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Honor Thy Elders: Honor Thyself

By Dr. Gloria J. Latimore-Peace 

Presented by Omni-U Virtual University

Not so long ago, whenever we gathered, it was our practice to "pour libation" to the Ancestors  in remembrance of their vital roles in sustaining us throughout the "trials and tribulations" of life wherever  we may have been in the diaspora. We believe it is also incumbent upon us to pay homage to our Elders who serve us in a similar capacity on this side of the veil.

Among the many who come to mind are: Ancestors Dr. Martin Robison Delany; Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop; Priest Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers, Jr; Dr. Elkin T. Sithole; Dr. Ivan Van Sertima; Dr. Lerone Bennett, Jr.; Dr. John G. Jackson; Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Queen Mothers: Dr. Margaret T.G. Burroughs; Dr. Barbara Sizemore; and Nana Dr. Akosua Akyaa Patricia A. Newton 

By raising the fundamental question,in "What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black…?", Queen Mother Dr. Burroughs has commanded us to do likewise- to ask ourselves, what is the truth that our children need to know? 

In answer to that question, Mzee Jedi Shemsu Jehewty Carruthers has provided us with a profound definition of truth. He asserts that the "Truth" is "the knowledge we need." It is essential that we "drink  deeply... from the fountain of [our] black culture... sit at the knee of and learn from Mother Africa…" Thus, forearmed ourselves,we are prepared  to "arm them with the truth"... that has been so often obscured and omitted"- weapons that will make -and keep- us free.

To "honor our elders," in truth, we must  know who our elders are. First of all, the world's original elders - and, therefore, the world's first people-were African people. In fact, according  to the undisputed  research of L.S.B Leakey  and Ancestor  Cheikh Anta Diop, et al, human life originated on the African continent. And, because the African  Community  is made up of the Living, The Dead, and The Yet Unborn, our institutions are vested- not in buildings- but in our people. Hence, Our elders  are our living institutions.

The very last thing we-as an African people- can tolerate is a socially-engineered generation of "unruly" children who are "going around thinking that the world owes [them] something cause they're here"[1] Since, apparently, such youth have not yet realized  the fact that "rights and privileges require duties and responsibilities," we must return to the teachings of the African "Way", i.e., the Culture.

According to the African "Way" of looking  at the world, the primary responsibility of the young is to treat their elders with the love, dignity, respect and protection that they are due not only because of the essential roles they have and are playing   as custodians of the children and of the culture but, also because of the high probability that the young will reap the harvest that they have sown when they, themselves, become the elders . 

Concomitantly, the principal responsibilities of Elders are to nurture and to discipline the young by being, living, and doing the Way of life- practicing  the culture- of the kinship  group. By precept and example, the young are to be  taught (among other things):

  • The Source of their being, including the human ancestors from whom they descend(ed);

  • Who they are in relationship to  their  Elders, the members of their age-grade, the younger members of the kinship group, as well as to their neighbors in the community-at-large;

  • The nature of their custodial relationship vis a vis their community, their environment, the land, and all of the components thereof, i.e., the animal, plant, and mineral life, etc., and, equally important


  • Their relationship to and dependency on all of the above.

  • The manner in which "all of the above" - our Source, our Elders, our community, our earthly home, and the values that sustain us as a community- are to be honored, respected, and dignified. 

Undergirding, interwoven, and inextricably bound to our Way of Life, ie.,our CULTURE, is the value system that informs the Way we live.

This knowledge is vital to the well-being of the entire family/community: the Living, the Dead, and the Yet-Unborn, not just for today but for eternity. This "curriculum" must be taught to all of our young by our Elders, all of whom share the roles and responsibilities of mothers and fathers.


It is an Ancient African adage that, "Children are the reward of Life" for they are the conduits through which succeeding generations come into being. Hence, each Elder in the kinship group has a stake in the nurture and discipline and, thereby, the preservation of the young. The young must be made aware that they share this vital stake since it is they that will inherit the fruits of the labor of their elders if they are fortunate enough to join the elders before they join the Ancestors. 

The African family model provides us with an example of "the way we were" before we were dispossessed of our land, stolen from our kinship groups, and deprived of our language(s) and Culture. In fact, we have it on the impeccable authority of Ancestor Cheikh Anta Diop, in "The Cultural Unity of Black Africa" that, although not every African kinship group practiced everything in precisely the same as the others, they all shared certain corporate values which could be observed throughout the continent,- that is, before our Way of Life  was disrupted by the African Captive Trade, aka, the Atlantic "slave" trade. 

Africans who are American-born, i.e., African- Americans, continue to bear the brunt of a majority of the pathological, social, and psychological ills of this society: mass incarceration, serial homicides, addiction, etc.. However, the most lethal of these maladies is the unrecognized Ethnocide- the deliberate and systematic destruction of our African-centered Culture. Ethnocide is a "stealth bomb strategy" that has persisted for centuries but, unlike more visible forms of aggression, it is virtually impossible to detect - sometimes even after the damage is done. 

Our inalienable right "to be''- to live in this world as whole human beings- has long since been under assault. More and more members of our African familial body are being amputated, especially our men, many of whom are identified, in the news accounts of their murders, only as "unarmed" and "black". 

The "destruction of the Black family for profit" -to which Ta-Nahesi Coates referred in his " George E. Kent" lecture (May 27, 2021)- was  part and parcel of the early American economic enterprise known as "slave- trading". Our contemporary African American family system has been so decimated by this "slave-trading" enterprise- and its succeeding business practices- that our families increasingly run the risk of becoming what Ancestor Dr. Frances Cress Welsing referred to "survival units".

"Honoring our Elders" means that we must be grateful for- as well as respectful and protective of -all of our Elders:

Our Ancestral, Biological, Marital, and Communal Mothers and Fathers  including our aunts and uncles who are  the biological sisters and brothers of our biological fathers; our Godfathers and Godmothers; "friends of the family" and

 all other "parental figures who are and/or  have served in the capacity of Fathers or Mothers. In so doing, we acknowledge the innumerable Elders who have thwarted the efforts to "put asunder" the Family that "has been joined together" by the Most High.

May we always remember the clarion call  of our Revered Ancestor, The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey: "Forward forever! Backwards never!"

A Luta Continua / The Struggle Continues.

Hotep, Alafia, Shalom, As-salaam alaikum, Peace.


[1] From : 'Respect Yourself " Sung by The Staples Singers. 

Recommended Viewing

"Family Matters: The Role of the Parents" An H3O Art of Life Show, Featuring: Dr. Asantewaa Oppong Wadie and Wayne Sebamurti Gentry. 

"Honoring and Preserving Black Cultural  Institutions" An H3O Art of Life Show, Featuring: Ancestor Kwesi Ronald Harris and Mia Miles

"Caught in the ACT: The Atlantic Captive Trade," an H3O Art of Life Show, Featuring: Kamm Howard 

Africans were in America before Columbus - Hotep Jesus. The Joe Rogan  Experience #13181

Recommended Readings 

Ancestor Useni Eugene Perkins.  Harvesting New Generations: The Positive Development of Black Youth

Ancestor Dr. Martin Robison Delany. The Condition, Elevation Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States.

Ancestor Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs. ''What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black:..?" 

Ancestor Dr.Margaret T.G.Burroughs.  Life With Margaret: The Official Autobiography.

Ancestor Dr.Lerone Bennett, Jr. They Came Before the Mayflower.

Ancestor Dr. John G. Jackson. "Ancient America" in Man, God, and Civilization. 

Ta- Nahesi Coates. Between the World and Me.

Leo Weiner. Africa and the Discovery of America. 

Ancestor Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers. Essays in Ancient Egyptian Studies.

Ancestor Dr. Amos N. Wilson. The Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness.

Dr. Na'im Akbar. Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery" 

Dr. John S. Mbiti.African Religions and Philosopy

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