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Opening the Way Through Rites of Passage

by Kumasi Johnson
Special to

The African view of life reveals a journey with many passages and challenges along the way, including a time when you'll have to face your greatest fears. A boy must one day become a man. A girl must one day become a woman. This "coming of age," and the marking of the transition from one stage of life to the next, is called "rites of passage." It is a time for one to begin working toward developing harmony with his/her inner self.

Life is viewed as a series of hills that one has to climb in order to reach the mountain top. Passage over these hills requires preparation, dedication and discipline. The passage is also a covenant between an individual and the Creator. We believe you and your maker determined your destiny before you entered the physical world.

During rites of passage, one begins to "clear the way" and open a path to remember his/her personal destiny. A "rite" is a ritual that helps us reconnect and commune with our ancestors, especially since we've been disconnected from them and their knowledge for too long. It's time to restore our memory of ancient traditions by practicing "rites of passage."

A proverb from the Akan people of Ghana says, "It is not taboo to go back and fetch it if you forget."

More information and links about rites of passage, including organizations in the U.S. and throughout the diaspora, can be found at:

-- April 9, 2001

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