Saturday, August 21, 2010
I did not think my last blog of my trip to Egypt would be so difficult to write, but it is. First, I would like to say how blessed, grateful, and thankful I feel to have experienced such a magnificent place. If someone would have told me this time last year, I would have gone to Egypt I would have simply laughed. I am so thankful to have people in my life who care enough to push me and that want to see me succeed. Thank you! In my very first blog, I wrote that I was anticipating a life-changing experience. I can honestly say I have acquired that life-changing experience. I have learned so much about myself, my ancestors, and how I want to make a difference in this world. I really on this trip was able to look at the woman in the mirror. I am empowered and truly even more equipped to make a change. Everyone on the trip, from the students from Miles, Chicago State, Northeastern Illinois, and my beloved Howard were wonderful. We were able to learn from each other, share powerful testimonies, and engage in intellectual conversations. I feel that the friendships that we developed on the trip will continue for years to come. I was always treated like the baby of the group, being the youngest, but everyone especially Sarah, Kirin, Michelle, Debra, and even James all were like my big sisters and brothers. They took really good care of me. I am truly appreciative for them and their patience. lol I am really excited to take what I have learned to my community and to let them know the power we hold in our hands as descendants of kings and queens. As I left Egypt, I gained a sense of peace. I have a sense of peace about myself, my past, and am eager for the future. Thank you Egypt, Dr. Carr, Dr. Batey, Dr. Agee, and Dr. Welch for such a wonderful once in a lifetime educational experience. To my new family, the Egypt Study Abroad trip 2010, much peace, love, and happiness to you all. This is definitely not the end, but so long, farewell, until we meet again. : )
Friday, August 20, 2010
"Ancient Egpytians saw the divine manifest himself in all creation. New or different religious denominations would not have mattered to Egyptians because God is always expressing himself or creating himself in a new or different way. African people don't care what religion you are, its about how you live your life."
Dr Greg Carr
"To the Ancient Egyptians, good speech wasn't about what you said or proclaimed. To have good speech, one must perform ma'at in their actions."
Dr Mario Beatty
We are all back to the rigid temporal space that bind us to our oppressor. When I say oppressor I don't mean the quintessential White man, I mean ourselves. The nature of the oppressor isn't external, the true nature of the oppressor is that thing that looks to force everyone to a standard. So I thought about what Doc and Doc B said and I asked God for understanding of those paraphrased quotes. As it was the onset of Ramadan, I began to fast to understand some things about myself and my relationship to those ideas.
I remember on our full lecture day when I got up and I began to share what this trip meant to my life. As I began to share, I could see people's eyes start to water. I could see the divine moment of a new creation taking place. The Kemetic people must understood things about the Creator that we long have forgotten. The biggest thing being that religious affiliation does warrant a safe passage into the Afterlife, just actions and a good heart will.
To this day, that's how African persons see the world. To this day, the tradition of good speech or having a good heart ensures victory in the end. To this day, "God knows my heart" is something that transcends religious dogma. The Christian Church is seen as the moral compass of the Western world but there was a time when you had to pay to get out of purgatory. There was time when the Church allowed and justified the presence of European slave traders to steal humanity to the means of bolstering capital. When I stood up, at that moment of creation, I realized that the African worldview that allows for the creation or the expression of the modern world's 3 biggest religions is the key to reconciling their differences. What I'm saying might seem a little cryptic or a little far fetched but the idea that we must take a step back to create again is what the Akan call "sankofa" and now I understand that.
Upon our return to the States, one thing became clear to me. The progeny of the Arab invaders who now occupy the space also wish to stifle the worldview of those Ancient African people. They do it but proclaiming the Egyptian phenotype to be "North African Caucasoid". They do it by not allowing us to photograph the monuments. They do it by not allowing Dr Beatty nor Dr Carr to explain the cultural context of the glyphs in the temples and tombs. They do it by not allowing us to fully engage the Ancestors in their language. Most importantly, they do it by exploiting the African memory for profit.
As African people it is our responsibility to re-claim that space. It is our responsibility to tell the stories of those have heard, those who know what we have forgotten. I could go on for days but I'll end here. You guys will never know what you mean to me. You all beared witness to a personal weheme mesu and I will never forget you. None of you.
Howard University Student Association
Director of Student Advocacy for 2010 - 2011
Thursday, August 19, 2010
After two long weeks that seem to not have been long enough, I sit here wishing to still be in Egypt-the place all of us who embarked on this trip call home. Speaking as someone who marks this experience as her first study abroad trip, I can honestly say with no question that I am beyond ecstatic and overwhelmingly overjoyed that my first experience was Egypt. When asked how my trip was, my only response with the biggest smile on my face is: "THE BEST TRIP OF MY LIFE!" As many times as I have traveled far away from home, this trip was definitely incomparable to the rest. Everything that you see in pictures in reference to Egypt, in addition to anything else you could possibly think of or have read about-we saw and touched. From the pyramids, to the sphinx, to the temples and the tombs-we did it all.....including swimming in the Nile. WHO DOES THAT?!
Although the site seeing was remarkably incredulous, I think what made the trip so preeminent was the people I met and was able to enjoy the experience with. In two weeks we became our own family. I honestly do not believe that I would have had the type of time I had without the once in a lifetime friends I made. Moreover, the greatest part is that we can continue our friendship when we return to school!
Despite my return to the familiar things I enjoy most such as being able to use and drink my tap water, eating ALL different types of fruits and meats without second guessing and worrying if I will regret it later, being able to drive throughout my town during the day and night without the fear of someone jumping out of a van or just walking in the middle of a busy highway, or being able to walk in my neighborhood without being harassed by vendors or guys who call me "cousin" or "sister" or "like my skin color because it is the same as theirs", or who want to know "how many camels" or if I have a husband; I will miss some Egyptian customs I have now gotten used to such as bargaining. I never paid the price they asked for for anything while I was there. You love it when you get good at it...and I got good at it.
However, it was imperative that I return "home". Not only was I surprisingly missed more than expected, I have knowledge to disperse and stories to share. Furthermore, I cannot wait to continue enhancing my scribal skills when I return to school by working with Dr. Carr. He really is my staff and I appreciate him beyond measure. The expectation that I am going to increase my knowledge of the world and he is going to help me despite the fact that I am not taking on his department as another major makes me even more anxious to return to Howard.
Although we have come to the end of the road, and I sill cannot let go of everything I learned, the people I met, and the experience I had...this is just the beginning.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I cannot believe it. I am sitting on a plane back to the America I thought I missed. It was only when walking down the breezeway to the plane that I realized: I’m not ready.
Of course, I miss EVERYBODY at home and it was hard not being able to freely pick up a phone or use Internet, but then again, it was nice to be away.
This was my first time abroad and I am so glad I started here. Egypt, as I said in my first post, has been a lifelong dream. Now, I can say, that dream has been fulfilled…more than I ever thought it would be. It seems like we have done EVERYTHING here that there is to do. I am so glad that I went with the Howard University tour group. There is no way that I could have gone to every site and stayed as long as we did by myself.
Along with the wonderful itinerary, and excellent lectures, I met some great people that I doubt I would have met any other way. And the best part is, we all go to the same school! Although we were only here for 2 weeks, it feels like a month (IN A GOOD WAY! LOL). All of us have had such a great time and there was honestly not a second that I regretted coming or wanted to go home.
I will admit, I am ready to get back to American food and some other comfort things, but those things are so minor in comparison to the experience. Like I said, I feel like I wanted to stay— I cant believe that. But even though we’re on our way back, I’m already making plans on where to go next. Hopefully I will be able to tag along on the South Africa trip next year with this same group. Wherever I go though, I have been primed for a lifetime of travel. The whole process was exciting..
Before I left home, I tweeted, “I can’t believe I’m going to Egypt and I probably wont believe it until I’m back home or at school.” I must say— I just might be prophetic lol.
I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT I JUST SPENT 2 WEEKS/ HALF A MONTH IN EGYPT!!!!!!
Several times throughout this trip, I would stop and say….”HEY! We’re in Egypt!”. Now, I’m going to change it…
HEY!!! I was in Egypt!!!! Amazing.
Salute! ::raises glass::
Monday, August 16, 2010
Our bags, heavy with new books and keepsakes, are being loaded onto the busses that will spirit us to Cairo International Airport and a flight back to New York. The students, their minds and tongues awash with concepts, figures and language from the world's parent civilization, hurtle back toward Howard with renewed intellectual vigor, reinforced as has been the case with the cohort of our two previous Kemet study abroad groups by a deep sense of purpose and mission. This year's initiative allowed two of the students of the world's foremost African scholar of Egyptian language and culture, Theophile Obenga, to bring together students from two Black universities and to initiate another university in its first study abroad in over a century of its existence. We have drunk once again from what Jacob Carruthers called "the deep well of African thought," this time in the company of students and faculty from three other universities in yet another unique undertaking. While here, the Presidential Commission on Academic Renewal completed its final recommendations. While reviewing them and reflecting on the past year of detailed discourse and exchange among our faculty, staff and students regarding the past, present and future uniqueness and direction of our beloved Howard, I lay our work here in Kemet alongside the work of this past year, looking and listening for lessons. A clear and familiar one emerged: our hope and aspirations are firmly rooted in the long view memory, genealogy and instruction left to us along the evidentiary pathways created by our Ancestors. There is no more credible, useful and, ultimately, fruitful intellectual work to be attempted and achieved. We return to Howard renewed, refocused and expectant that the fruits of this academic labor will continue to ripen and fortify the development of scholarship unique to the American and global academy. It is our duty. It is our charge. It is the mantra first set to language in the writings of PtahHotep in the late 25th century BCE, when he wrote "May this servant be instructed to make a staff of old age, that he might speak to him the words of those who have heard (sedjemew)." Our staffs will ripen under our instruction this Fall and in subsequent semesters and years. We must be prepared to invest them with the words of our Ancestors, literally "those who have heard."
A scribe is one who hears what is said but one who loves what one hears does what is said. Therefore, in order to be the best scribe I can be, I might as well keep writing.
Right now, we are starting the journey back “home”. We are leaving Luxor and heading back to Cairo where we will unfortunately spend our last night and begin our journey to New York tomorrow morning. Personally, I think my peers as well as myself would prefer to head back to Aswan and never go back “home”. On the other hand, I have this feeling that although we have become so close, it just maybe time to put some distance between ourselves. When certain people start snapping on you, it is definitely time to say goodbye.
Now you may be wondering why I refer to America as “home”. This is because in reality we are already home. “Home” is the place of residence created for you by our ancestors who fought and struggled for this place of residence after they were kidnapped from their place of comfort. However, we must return in order to share what we have learned with those who did not have the opportunity to join us this time around. Hopefully, we will be able to bring them in the future and personally share with them first hand because no story of our experience will hold a torch to an actual first hand one.
"The Ancient Egyptians had one word for truth, order, reciprocity and that word is Ma'at. The Western concept of truth does not need to have justice. If that's not the case then why do they have separate words for it?"
-Dr Greg Carr
While being in this place, it is very easy to see how the African people who built Kemet could see a new day as being the repetition of birth, or weheme mesu. If I didn't have a watch or a computer to remind me, I would have no sense of time at all. The worldview of these people is deeply entrenched in the concept of Ma'at. Ma'at is cosmic order, justice, righteousness. Ma'at has no beginning nor end, the goddess just is. She is the order that the laws of the universe must obey. It's as Dr Carr said, the Ancient Egyptians had a concept that encompasses all of those concepts. They are indistinguishable from each other.
A Miles College student, Brandon Young, and I were in conversation about the topic. He paraphrased Plato saying that the truth can be found without justice. I was immediately reminded of Napoleon, who more or less said, that historical truth is written by the winners of war. At that simple interchange between students, it became clear that ingenuity of African civilizations could not be conceptually understood by the West. It was true in antiquity and stands valid until today.
In closing, I'll add this. Ancient Kemet marries the idea of truth, order and justice to eternity. The West makes the truth relative to the moment and limits the concept of justice to mortality. We have been doing better a lot longer than the whole world has been. Why not continue in that tradition?
Howard University Student Association
Director of Student Advocacy for 2010 - 2011
In the words of James Baldwin, “My memory stammers but my soul is a witness.” These words represent my experience with Kemet. There is still so much knowledge I need to gain about the place around me but yet, I feel connected to every place I’ve visited. We are socialized and trained to learn a false history of the cradle of civilization. Our History. Growing up I always felt that the way the black community was portrayed was wrong but I was never able to articulate my feelings and thoughts in ways so that other people could understand. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Howard University where I was able to be the student of many great teachers. One of these teachers, and the one with the most influence on me, is Dr.Carr. He always says such profound things with such great ease. I often feel that he’s saying things I’ve always somehow known or things that seem so obvious but that I couldn’t figure out how to put into words. He is the person that has helped me learn that I am African, and that my history, and the history of my ancestors did not start with slavery. This idea was so foreign to me four years ago and now I can’t imagine not knowing it.
My first trip to Kemet was in 2008. During these past two weeks, memories from my first trip have come back, flooding my mind. I am no less amazed now than on my first visit, at the genius and majesty of the civilization that stood all around me over 4,000 years ago. I am so grateful that the ancient Egyptians built with such purpose and with the intentions that their masterpieces would last forever, so that I can marvel at them and learn from them and the culture that they represent. This year’s trip is very similar to my first trip because the same emotions have come rushing back. Pride, because my ancestors did these things. Hope, because what we have done we can do. Anger, because such extreme efforts are made on the daily to steal our legacy from us, and because people who have no claim to all the sites we visit, think that they have the right to profit from them. These feelings, along with many others are part of my daily experience here. This trip is also very different from my first one. I have been able to do things that I didn’t get to do the first time. For example, I saw the unfinished obelisk, went to the Nubian Museum in Aswan and the Luxor Museum in Luxor, and I got to wade in the Nile River. As a learning experience it is also very different. Dr.Beatty and students from Chicago State University have come along with us on this journey so I have had the opportunity to learn from them. Dr. Beatty’s passion is so overwhelming that I can’t help but to absorb it. His complete mastery of the ancient Egyptian language and understanding of ancient Egypt, coupled with his willingness to teach and answer questions has allowed me to gain a completely new and advanced understanding of Kemet. Being able to learn from Dr.Carr and Dr. Beatty has given me such a well-rounded learning experience.
This trip has been a refreshing spiritual journey, helping to further discover who I am. As well as that, it has continually helped me realize why and how I have to live my life according to ma’at. One of the lessons of Ptah Hotep that we have learned is that if ma’at stands firm then our children will live. With this journey we have all been given the charge of bringing this experience and our lessons learned back to our families, friends, and communities so that they can grow, develop, and live up to their true potential. A couple of days ago in lecture, Dr.Carr said that we have to learn who we are so that we can take the good from people without privileging their humanity over our own. This is the struggle we all face, learning who we are despite the forces that constantly try to prevent it, so that we can move through the world the way we were meant to and live up to our divine purpose.
Ancient Egypt has so many lessons to teach, and they are in every structure, temple, hieroglyph, painting, and text. Some of the lessons that are really staying with me are that to be fully committed to something you must do it with excellence and strive for perfection and that patience is a virtue. The pyramids, temples, and monuments are images of the cosmos on the ground. The Temple of Amun at Karnak is a result of over 2,000 years of building. The ancient Egyptians had “hour-watchers” that would pay attention to the movement of the heavens. They would rotate this duty for thousands of years so that they could map out the stars and as a result were able to plan their temples. Every other monument and structure is a testament to this way of life. Every glyph is a piece of art and every idea and blueprint for a monument was planned out and understood down to the last nanometer. If their work wasn’t perfect, they didn’t use it. We saw this first hand with the unfinished obelisk. It would have been the largest obelisk ever completed but while the Egyptians were working, a crack split down the center and they stopped working on it. Their work was perfection and designed to last forever and I hope to embody these principles when working on things that I’m passionate about.
In lecture, Dr.Carr talked about how “people fight to create identities based on what their objectives are. The truth, really, is of no consequence.” We are a witness to this everyday when we view the images that modern society presents to us, claiming they are representations of ancient Egypt despite all evidence, text, and testimony to the contrary. During one lecture here, we spoke about the National Geographic Magazine that featured King Tutankhamun. Zawi Hawass had the final say on the image that would be released on the cover. He solicited three teams of scholars to do facial reconstruction and chose the image with the white phenotype. This action fell in line with Hawass’ theory that the ancient Egyptians were “Caucasoid North Africans.” The term itself is absurd, yet it has become an accepted theory. Zawi Hawass uses his power and authority to push his theory. He uses no research or evidence to back it up. By using euphemisms like “Caucasoid North African” he is able to call the ancient Egyptians white without actually engaging in a conversation about race. It is left to us to combat things like this because people readily accept incorrect theories and assumptions. While here, we have been faced with a critical question: why? Why would he and scholars like him do this? Why must they perpetrate lies? Why are they so unable to face the truth staring back at them? The only answer I can think of is that they are in such awe of a culture and people they have no claim to that they will do anything to be able to have these master pieces somehow belong to them. If they were to accept and proclaim the truth, they would be going back on everything their society represents.
The Greeks themselves gave testimony about their visits to Kemet in the Late Period and gave descriptions of the ancient Egyptians as Black Africans. Modern Westerners say that this testimony is “unreliable” and they ignore the education the Greeks went to Egypt to get. Egyptian priests trained the first philosophers of Greece. “Greek” and “Roman” columns are imitations of flowers and plants grown in Egypt. The head of Djehuty is a bird from Africa that we got to see while we were in Aswan. The dress of Seshet is from a jungle cat inside Africa. The skin of Seti I is black as night and the extra flesh around the mouths and noses give evidence to a black phenotype—as do the monuments which display broad noses and thick lips. The wigs in the Cairo Museum have braids and afros. The table of races inside one of the tombs we visited showed the Egyptians as belonging to the same group as the Nubians. The wood figures of the Egyptian and Nubian armies, both have dark brown skin. This evidence, and so much more, shows us that the ancient Egyptians were black Africans. My job is to make sure that my community knows these things so that they can claim and know about the excellence of their ancestors and can have the confidence to go through life feeling proud and complete.
Our legacy is grounded in so many different things. Our ancestors were responsible for the development and creation of so many disciplines. Africa is the cradle of philosophy, art, science, mathematics, medicine, architecture, music, writing, and countless other areas. The creation of writing is one of the most important things we are responsible for. Evidence of Sumerian Cuneiform dates back to 3200 B.C.. The earliest evidence of a writing system in world history proceeds Mesopotamia, and happened prior to Sumerian Cuneiform. Prior to this knowledge, when the question of which writing form came first, Sumerian or Egyptian, there was a debate about independent invention versus diffusion: if the Sumerian Cuneiform was first, how could the Egyptians borrow the idea of writing without using Sumerian signs? Who influenced whom? Signs were found on early Mesopotamia pottery that are not “readable” from the vantage point of the Sumerian language, but they are “readable” from the vantage point of the Egyptian language.
Today in lecture, when Dr. Beatty was speaking he said that, “if you are truly African, you should have the confidence to stand on your past, your ancestors, your legacy, and to use that legacy to build your reality—unapologetically.” This is what I plan to do. Coming to Egypt has allowed me to gain such a greater understanding of my past, ancestors, and my legacy so that I know who I am and who the people in my community are. Together we can change the future for our children and our descendants for years to come, increasing their understanding and love of themselves. If we can do this then we will know that we have lived up to our purpose.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
According to Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the dismemberment of Africa was “simultaneously the foundation, fuel, and consequence of Europe’s capitalist modernity.” The two stages of its dismemberment are: the separation of the continent of Africa and its diaspora and the individual African from his memory. It is through this dismemberment that the wholeness of the African subject is destroyed and its double cultural decapitation influences and shapes our perspectives on Africa. The process of re-membering is restoring memory and relinking.
In the mid 19th century, when Europe began to lose control of its former colonies it turned to Africa for resources due to their development of a culture of scarcity. This is when Europeans began to systematically dispossess Africans of natural resources in Africa. This was called African colonialism. Colonialism is another attempt at controlling a peoples memory. “The colonizing presence sought to induce a historical amnesia on the colonized by mutilating the memory of the colonized; and where that failed, it dismembered it, and then tried to re-member it to the colonizer’s definition of the world. Therefore in retrospect, Europe technically does not exist.
When I first met Dr. Carr, he introduced me to the term "Being Present" Being Present is being aware of one’s immediate genealogy, which is “the basis of human identity and, according to Kemetic and subsequent African cultural edict, the trace evidence of the genetic relationship between the Creator and the living person.” “A people without a consciousness of their Being in the World, can easily be guided by another to wherever the guide wants to take him, even to his own extinction”, according to the Heideggerian phrase. With this in mind, one must realize that racial self-assertion is the necessary first step in the reclamation of a positive self-awareness. Racism was a conscious class ideology of imperialism, colonialism, and colonial relations & it is race that was, is, and could be used as a means of diminishing the self-evaluation of the dominated. This is clearly delineated by the creation of whiteness. Ethnicity literally means “other” from the Greek word heathen. Non black ethnicity, whiteness, is a social category created for black ethnicity to be the opposite. “Black” is not race, it is culture. This is how Europeans began to dismember the memory of Africans.
“Language is a communication system and carrier of culture by virtue of being simultaneously the means and carrier of memory…To starve or kill a language is to starve and kill a people’s memory bank.” This is how the Europeans imposed their ideologies on African people-they tried to erase every strength of the African, socially, mentally, physically and replace it with that of their own. Europeans claimed their ways to be better than that of Africans and systematically dismembered them by imposing the psychological idea that Europeans were of the superior class and in order to survive or make it in the world Africans would have to conform to Europeans ideas in every way. This is delineated by institutions in the very beginning of a child’s education. American schools institute fundaments of European imperial rule in which they socialize African children to identify with European values. The educational institutions aim at getting students to modify their memories to appreciate European superiority especially through literature and history, to the point of inevitably acquiring the reflex to think that the vast topic of Literature was English literature and there was no other being in existence until the Europeans creating history where they began. Literature, like all other subjects focused on the English versions and was used to express racial superiority by the Europeans.
Memory resides in language and is clarified by language. Language is a mutual form of communication. Every society may have one main language but different classes of people may create their own type of language, a form of slang for example, giving their society multiple forms of language. Some African governments have a problem with the multiple languages. They have a fear of intensifying the divisions created by different languages. As a result, most governments tend to pretend that African languages do not exist or try to force monolingualism. However, the solution is not to bury the languages and the means of African memory under European ideologies, but rather the solution lies in translation. “Translation is the language of languages, a language through which all languages can speak to one another.” It is through the translation of works directly written in African languages that a shared modernized heritage will emerge. Ultimately, the re-membering of memory can only be successful only if the keepers of memory, ie. African writers, musicians, and artists, share their memory.
When first signing up for the Kemet 2010 trip, the thought of lecture every night sounded awful! And I’ll admit, even the first couple days here, I still wasn’t in love with the idea. Thankfully, these weren’t just regular lectures. Every night, I have found myself questioning myself, what I have been taught, and what I am doing/going to do with my life. First, let me say that Dr. Carr and Dr. Beatty are two of the BEST teachers that I have ever had. Their dedication to the topic of African Studies and their unending knowledge in the area are extremely inspiring.
While sitting in lecture on Saturday, I sat back and looked at my past two years as a PASSIVE Howard University student. I felt like an honest failure. And the bad part is, there is no one to blame but me. Of course on paper, I’m doing fine at Howard, my grades are good and my scholarship is still intact after 2 years. However, I think that I am taking this time in college for granted. I feel that I have yet to really take on any true scholarship. By this I mean, reading a lot of books, questioning things, and just studying overall philosophy in and on life.
With Dr. Carr and Dr. Beatty going through slides, I felt bad that I had very little previous knowledge on topics that we were speaking on. In that moment, I made a promise to myself to do better. MUCH BETTER. I now believe that this is the renaissance of my personal scholarship. I am going to start reading and writing outside of class. In addition, I am going to seriously look at what I am doing in college. What do I REALLY want to do when I get out.
I think that too many people go through college and life passively. I refuse to be like that any longer. After this Kemet experience, I really feel a responsibility to educate others and persuade them to make the same promise. When I was first introduced to the concept of a scribe last week, I took it at face value —a person that writes things down for preservation. But after delving into the occupation over this trip, I have truly come to understand and appreciate the importance of this position. Now, I too want to be a person to pass down knowledge to others. I want to continue the legacy and preserve the wisdom of our people.
As a result, I am applying for the position of scribe. This is my letter of intent.
Written August 5, 2010 (my born day!)
Earlier today, at the Cairo Museum Dr. Greg Carr poured libations before we entered the museum. He spoke of those that came before all of us. It was such a powerful moment it’s hard to describe. I know I cannot convey the power of his words, but I’ll. After a few ashe’s Dr. Carr came to the part where it was necessary to honor those of our family that were taken and those forced into a system that would rob them of much of themselves. He spoke of those who returned to their native land only to steal those still living in that space. At that moment, a spirit of understanding, pain and compassion came over me; I immediately began to cry, as were others.
I felt like I wish I could have been there to help or show compassion to those who made a conscious decision to capture their extended family members. And I felt sorry that they even had to contemplate that decision. I’m almost ashamed to stay that I, in the past, have felt betrayed and angry with those that aided the devils in the demise of our great lands and dishevelment of people. It’s such a complicated web of emotions and thoughts and feelings that are brought up at the mere mention of my people who were in this travesty.
The final part of the libation, Dr. Carr spoke of our children’s children’s children, and how they will be speaking our names soon enough. Wow. I was filled with so much love, hope and concern at that possibility not only for my great-great- grandchildren, also, for me, a person that has many, vast responsibilities to our children’s children’s children.
Now after getting to our hotel in Aswan I thought I would shower, take Benadryl (because I’m breaking out from what? Who knows?) and scribble a few notes about the past few days on this beautiful balcony (with an amazing view of the Nile) and listen to music- but soon after rearranging the chairs so I could prop my feet up I stopped and stood still, and listened.
I hear the constant humming of the hotel’s air conditioner, the quick pitter-patter of children running with an occasional scream or two. Far in the distance, I seldom hear music that I at first had mistaken for horns. The air is like a warm blanket that covers every part of me. Not too hot, and definitely not cool at nearly midnight. To think that I would have missed all this if I had put my IPod on my “Feel Good Music” playlist instead of just feeling.
If I take nothing else away from this trip, I want to become an active contributor to this place, whichever place I am. There is something different here in Aswan than in Cairo. As soon as I got off the bus from the airport the majestic lights took me over. I no longer am concerned with my latest allergic reaction or that 23 years ago I was born because today I actually felt reborn. Aswan just feels good inside. It’s really indescribable how great it feels to be in Aswan. I wouldn't have wanted to spend my born day any other way, than with my Howard family in our home away from home.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Climbing the Rock Tombs of Elephantine Island . Sam, James Robinson, and Breyiana Moody.
Playing rope with the children of the nubian villiage. - Breyiana Moody
In awe - Breyiana Moody
The way in which the Ancient Egyptians used natural light within the temples is absolutely amazing. -Breyiana Moody
..................................*sigh and deep breaths* I apologize for beginning this entry so unusually but after the class we just had....at this current moment that is all I can do. In fact, I do not apologize because that would give the implication that something wrong has been done ensuing a feeling of possible regret, which is not the case. There are so many words to describe today’s full day class session, but at the same time there are no words sufficiently expressive enough to describe it.
For almost two weeks now, we have traveled together, taught and learned from one another, lived together, and experienced something most of our people may never get to experience first hand together. With all this time that we have spent together getting to know one another, we probably know each other better than our closest friends; but at the same time you can know everything about a person and still know nothing about them. This was discovered today as my various peers and elders reflected about the trip and the connections and impacts it has made to and in their personal lives. As many people shared their thoughts and reflections, it was obvious that a certain feeling of familial trust had been established amongst us. It was this connectedness of such where if the person cried, you cried; the person laughed, you laughed; the person got angry, you got angry. The entire situation reminds me of the song “I Cry” by Ja Rule featuring Lil Mo. “When I cry, you cry, we cry together.” I was humbled by the entire class because it was finally clear that everyone understands why we came here. Everyone if not completely cognizant is at least aware of our memory dismemberment and can now work towards re-membering it.
Today’s class let you know that there were other people [there] with you. There are other people who have/are going through what you have/are going through or worse. This entire trip if nothing else has established this fact: there are people like you. There are countless times on this trip that people looked at the sculptures and figures on the walls of temples and had the epiphany: “That’s me. I look like that. Those are my lips and my nose.” For any black person who felt as if they did not belong or were not good enough to accomplish greatness or exceed such, that theory was and should have been completely decimated and shot to hell with whatever/whoever made you feel as such when you are re-minded of what your ancestors, the Africans, the Egyptians accomplished. They created EVERYTHING from NOTHING; as we will when we go back “home” to share with our family and friends what we have learned. They think they know.....but they have no idea.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Today’s wake up call is 5:30am for our three hour drive to Abydos. By now, I think everyone is used to the earlier wake up calls and driving long distances for hours. This just means one thing to us: NAP TIME!!
Abydos, although mostly buried, spreads over five square miles and is composed of archaeological remains from all phases of Kemetic civilization. It is the original center for Wosir (Osiris) and is most famous for its seven Holy of Holies dedicated to Sety I, Ptah, Re-Horakhty, Amun-Re, Wosir (Osiris), Auset (Isis), and Heru (Horus). There is a back gateway oriented to the site of the old royal cemetery at Umm el-Gaab. The most distinctive and memorable pictures on the wall were the ones illustrating the myth of Osiris. In this myth, Isis and her sister, Nephthys find Osiris after he was killed by Seth. His death is not erased nor undone, but integrated into Maat (the divine order of the world). Osiris is awakened from his slumber and through transfiguration, Isis is able to impregnate herself by him, in order to conceive a son, who will avenge his father’s death. The beauty of Abydos is seen through its imagery, which depicts more intimacy and affection between humanity than previously seen at other sites. We also got to see the archaeological site of where it is thought Osiris to be buried.
The second stop of the day was to Dendera. Dendera is the temple for Het Heru, also known as Hathor, the personification of love, motherhood, fertility, music, and dance. She is represented with cow ears. The thirty-four columns of the temple are headed with four sided heads of the cow goddess adding the spectacularity of the already amazing art on the walls and ceilings, which show off the extreme extent of the Egyptians knowledge of the sun, stars, and universe. The ceilings illustrated their discovery of what we know today as horoscopes and how they measured time based on just studying the stars. AMAZING? INCREDIBLE? UNFATHOMABLE? UNBELIEVABLE? I know. I gave up trying to find words to describe the works of the Egyptians a long time ago..........last week.
The whole time we have been in Egypt a real bond has grown between all of us. We have come a long way from the first day in JFK airport when we hardly knew anyone. Through our daily lectures, I have really gained so much insight on African civilizations and also the lives that African Americans are living right now through testimonies that were given.
During lectures, I don’t speak out like some others. I prefer to sit back and absorb everything that is said. The room sometimes gets filled with so much emotion. On Friday in particular, we opened the session with a brief talk by Mr. Clarence Jones on his blog entry. After he spoke, the floor was opened for reflections. It seemed that after about 30 seconds of looking around to see who would say something, the floodgates opened. Several people started to get up and share their experience and reflections on this trip.
To give a more well rounded expression, many people drew from their past life experiences. Moments like that really give you insight into people’s lives and what they have been through. I applaud all of my classmates who have been through storms in their lives and are still making great things happen everyday. I was shocked by the struggles they described and I struggled to place myself in their shoes. In that moment, I gained a new appreciation for everyone in the room. I can honestly say, you can never judge a book by the cover.