“Mojuba” Event Honoring African Ancestors Will Feature Discussion Of Amherst’s Reparations Efforts
Bridge4Unity, a grass-roots organization devoted to interracial and intercultural dialogues, will host an event honoring African Ancestors and a discussion of Amherst Reparations efforts on Sunday, November 6 at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, 121 North Pleasant Street in Amherst. The event is free and the public is welcome. An opening “Mojuba” ceremony will honor African ancestors in the tradition of the Yoruba people. Included in those ancestors are the 78 Black residents of Amherst in 1860 as well as Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. B4U members Rose Sackey-Milligan and Trevor Baptiste will lead reverential libations and prayers, at an improvised altar, accompanied by drumming, dancing and ending with songs from the Amherst Area Gospel Choir.
This ceremony will be followed by a brief history of the efforts to establish Black reparations in the US, by B4U member Dr. Amilcar Shabazz. He will then moderate a panel of Amherst’s African Heritage Reparations Assembly, who will review and discuss current efforts to study and develop reparations proposals for the town. Members of Bridge4Unity will then lead small groups of the audience in facilitated dialogue about reparations to explore ideas and answer questions.
Shabazz says he hopes the event will leave a footprint on the path to a genuine shrine to Black ancestors in Amherst. He points out this is likely the first public event in Amherst that incorporates honoring Black ancestors.
Rose Sackey-Milligan, who is overseeing the ancestor-honoring ceremony, has been studying and practicing the Afro-Cuban Yoruba-derived Lukumi faith since 1992 and received full priesthood ordination in 1997. She states “The dead are not dead, the spirit does not die. The Eternal Cycle of Life is an underlying ethos and worldview of people of African origin. “It is believed that death of the body is not evidence that human life comes to an end. Rather, the spirit survives physical death and travels to a space that transcends the ordinary boundaries of time and space, what the Yoruba people call Ikole Orun, the Invisible Realm of the Ancestors. From there these ancestral spirits constantly watch over the affairs of their lineage on earth. “They bless and protect them and may join other lineages to ensure the well being, productivity and prosperity of the communities from which they departed. Likewise, the living use ritual to reciprocate their loyalty, create intimate connection, express gratitude, and call for support when facing challenging issues, those requiring increased determination or effort.”
The “Mojuba” event producer Bridge4Unity, is a multi-racial bridging group, centered in the Pioneer Valley, founded in 2017 by Deborah Snow and friends, along with Paula Green.
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Please allow me to clarify that Ancestral Bridges has held public events in Amherst that honor Black ancestors. This Mojuba is perhaps the first to do so through a West African derived spiritual practice. We support all efforts to salute those brought to this country in chains, against their will, whose names, culture and dignity were taken from them by the evil system of slavery that was law in Amherst and throughout this English colony and the United States of America. We call for remembering our African forebears in the name of this town, its streets and public spaces, with historical markers, and in other ways that keeps them alive in our hearts and minds.