In my heart there burns a flame
Cosmic and radiant
The light seeps through my skin
Embellished and bronze.

I remember a time I was surrounded by a sea of people yet internally I felt like a hollow shell cast out of the ocean. I was prone to high levels of unending anxiety and depression and often felt completely disconnected to reality like Alice falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.

Desperate, I tried with every ounce of my being to define myself with whatever was outside of me, anything to me help appear normal and facilitate my ability to fit in and this was a cycle that went on for some time. Until uNkulunkulu said sekwanele Ndodakazi and offered me a time of solace and deep contemplation which arose as a consequence of friends, relationships and opportunities being plucked out of my life all at once.

As I hit this low, I believed that I would sink into another deep depression but beautifully and surprisingly, for the first time in a long time losing absolutely everything freed me and finally after years of walking around in the modern mask, I was able to breathe and remember who I am, umuNtu.

“AbaNtu baphila isiNtu. Ngaphandle kwalokho akukho ukuphila.”

UmuNtu ngokweSintu, is a person of African descent. Our ancestors called fellow African people (Black people) abaNtu. People of different descents such as Europeans were Abelungu or Indians were amaNdiya and so forth. Therefore, when we refer to “abaNtu,” it means a person of African descent and our way of life called isiNtu means the traditions, customs and spiritual beliefs lived by people of African descent. Even the widely used proverb of “UmuNtu ngumuNtu ngabaNtu” means that Africans become true Africans when they unite and work together.

I once read a passage by Malidoma Somè and he writes, “When we are born, we move away from the centre, when we are adults we walk further and further away from it. Without the centre we cannot tell who we are, where we are or where we are going. The centre is both within and without.”

As spiritual beings, abaNtu we understand that we are of spirit and of soul before we are of flesh – the human experience thus is a journey of reconnecting to our soul through many different paths so we may complete the work we have been called to do.

Our ancestors believed that we all are born with a life purpose. This purpose is not to simply go to school, work, pay taxes and to die as we have been programmed to believe. This purpose is aligned with healing yourself, your family, lineage, clan or nation. In our ancient traditions, it was known from birth and we spent our lives living according to our purpose. Continuous practice of realignment with our centre helps us to navigate this path and ultimately our lives here on earth. However, the world of today misaligns us with this truth. Instead, we spend a lifetime chasing after things outside of our centre; outside of isiNtu to find meaning.

I believe most people have a horrible misconception of isiNtu (ancient African tradition). Many believe that Africa was dark and barbaric prior to colonisation including most Black people. I have never accepted this message and as a result I always questioned it as a child and my soul was pleased to find out the opposite was true:

● AbaNtu (Africans) lived in alignment with nature, because we are of nature and we return to nature. Being in alignment with the sun, moon phases, seasons and animals helped us to survive that is why spending time in nature today is healing to us.
● AbaNtu honoured women, and women honoured themselves as our cultures were matrilineal because women have the divine responsibility of continuing the life cycle.
● AbaNtu believed that in the life we have been given; first we are to protect and second to take only what we need from Mother Earth.
● AbaNtu believed in one God, uMdali the creator who has seven different aspects.
● AbaNtu believed that we work in alignment with the spiritual realm using natural herbs, medicines and elements to help heal ourselves, our families and help us navigate ahead in the journey we call life.

An orange seed will never grow into an apple tree, so similarly the authentic version of yourself as umuNtu will never come from anything outside of you but rather he/she will arise from within you. The authentic version of yourself won’t be a copy of what you see on television or social media; it will never be someone you have been taught to be through imperialist institutions such as a classroom or a church hall.

The world of today would have us believe that everything purely African should be looked down upon and as a consequence of this we unknowingly look down upon ourselves and the true reason for this is because the deeper you collide with the teachings of Ntu ancestors, the deeper you move away from chasing the desires manufactured by the material world that destroy our mental, physical and spiritual well-being. As umuNtu the longer you exist in a world that does not resemble isiNtu, the more your soul will push you to recreate one that does and most of us a disconnected to this level of consciousness.

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