Can’t get the warrior without spirituality, Can’t get spirituality without the warrior!
For six years, from 12 May 1825 to February 1831, the outcast prophet remained silent about his insurrectionary visions. He prayed and fasted, but he did not tell the blacks of Southampton about his premonitions of war. According to The Confessions, he told no one of his visions until an eclipse of the sun in February of 1831: Turner envisioned this as a black man’s hand reaching over the sun. He initially planned the rebellion to begin on July 4, Independence Day. Turner postponed it because of illness and to use the delay for additional planning with his co-conspirators. ” [T]he first sign appeared and immediately on the sign appearing in the heavens, the seal was removed from my lips & I communicated the great work laid out for me to do, to four in whom I had the greatest confidence” – Nat Turner
Nat Turner Afrikan/New Afrikan Indigenous Spiritual Science/Sky Watching/Astronomy
Palaeolithic Africans began a process of continuous star gazing as far back as 40,000 years ago. Sometime between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago star gazing was transformed * into a systematic observational science in the Nilotic lands of Africa. The most important outcome of Nilotic stargazing was the invention of the calendar of which there were several types. *
*The *Fang of West-Central Africa (Cameroon and Gabon) possess a 12-month calendar and have identified several asterisms known to modern astronomy. *The Mbochi of Congo also have one of the more well-defined astronomies of the region.
Astronomy is one of the oldest science disciplines.
Modern astronomy is a term used to refer to the scientific discipline in which we collect, correlate and interpret data pertinent to our entire observable universe from our galaxy to the farthest reaches of extragalactic space.
Modern astronomy came into West Africa about five decades back.
One of the first major modern astronomy/space science activities in West Africa was the setting up of NASA’s space tracking facility in Kano, Nigeria, in the early 1960s for monitoring the missions of Gemini, Apollo and Skylab spacecraft.
Currently, there is no functional astronomical observatory/facility in this region!
So, while modern astronomy may be quite new and unpopular in Nigeria, ancient architecture, folklore, myths, religion, calendar, etc. are quite rich in astronomy.
Indigenous, endogenous, traditional, or cultural astronomy focuses on the many ways that people and cultures interact with celestial bodies.
African cultural astronomy is an inter-disciplinary field with intersections in the fields of anthropology, history, religion, African studies, science studies, art, folklore, mathematics and astronomy.
Africa is home to many long-standing cultural traditions that include beliefs, practices, and observations relating to the sky.
African cultural astronomy is rich with mythic figures, cosmology and cosmogony, divination methods that utilize observations of celestial bodies, and many other sky-related beliefs and traditions.
Like ancient people everywhere, Africans wondered at the sky and struggled to make sense of it.
As far back as 5000 years ago, Egyptians were already using the knowledge of astronomical events (sirius star) to time their farming.
Another good example is the Ng’amoritung’a on the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya where the logic of a 2000 year old calendar predates any European influence.
The cultural astronomy of the West African sub-region is among the least investigated in the African continent.
Ancient astronomical practices of parts of Southern and Northern Africa have been relatively well studied.
Some of these had names for star constellations as well as some exciting star lore.
Cultural astronomy of Nigeria
An estimated population of 130 million
Huge size of 923,768 sq km(an estimated 1200km from east to west and about 1050km from north to south)
Over 300 ethno-linguistic groups; the most populous being Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo 18% and Ijaw 10%.
Source: Sky & Telescope, 2005, vol.109, no 1, p. 58.
Pleiades (Seven Sisters) is one of the most distinctive objects beyond our solar system.
It is remarkable among the Hausas as the constellation which appears at the commencement of the rains.
Known as Kaza Maiyaya, the Hen with Chickens.
The morning-star in harvest time (probably α-Aquila) is known as the eagle star.
Cultural astronomy of Ghana
GYE NYAME – EXCEPT GOD
From the Akan aphorism: Abode santann yi firi tete; obi nte ase a onim ne ahyease, na obi ntena ase nkosi ne awie, GYE NYAME.
Literal translation: This great panorama of creation dates back to time immemorial; no one lives who saw its beginning and no one will live to see its end, EXCEPT GOD.
The symbol reflects the Akan belief of a SUPREME BEING, the CREATOR who they refer to by various names – e.g., OBOADEE, NYAME, ONYANKOPON TWEREAMPON.
ABODE SANTAAN – TOTALITY OF THE UNIVERSE
Symbol of the TOTALITY OF THE UNIVERSE – NATURAL AND SOCIAL CREATION
The symbol incorporates the eye, the rays of the sun, the double crescent moon, and the stool. The sun, the moon, and the eyes depict natural creation by a supreme being. While the stool depicts the socially created institutions and the creativity of human beings.
The Milky Way
It is to the Akwapim people (Twi speakers in Ghana) as Osaman-ne-quang “the road of spirits.”
Cultural astronomy of Togo and Benin
Among the Batammaliba of Togo & Benin, the Sirius star is known as Okwata – rich man or chief.
1973 stamps of Togo.
The African Cultural Astronomy Project
Cultural Astronomy is one of the best ways of popularising modern astronomy and space sciences in this region.
On March 29, 2006, a total solar eclipse was visible from West Africa. My colleagues and I used this celestial event as the center point of a conference on African Cultural Astronomy.
Following the conference, the African Cultural Astronomy Project was born; (more information at (www.africastronomy.org).
The main objectives of the project are:
- To unearth the body of traditional knowledge of astronomy by peoples of the different ethnic groups in Africa;
- To re-interpret this body of knowledge in the light of modern/western astronomy;
- To understand the ways and degrees through which this knowledge and beliefs shaped the lived realities of the people of Africa;
- To add to our understanding of African scientific practices, and this can be used to augment science education.
It has been argued that, “as the science that provides the framework knowledge of where we, and the planet on which we live, fit into the environment of the universe, astronomy is a vital part of the culture of all mankind. A person deprived of the broad outlines of astronomical knowledge is as culturally handicapped as one never exposed to history, literature, music or art.”
In West Africa, and other parts of Africa, there are hundreds of ethnic cosmogonies and mythologies that need to be studied systematically.
Cultural astronomy is an interdisciplinary research field and provides a good opportunity for interaction and collaboration on astronomy; anthropology; African art, history, religion, geography, culture, etc.
It also a powerful tool for creating awareness and interest in modern astronomy and space science.
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