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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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Principles, Powers, and Obedience: An African -Centered Perspective

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

By Dr. Heru Khepera Bullard

Presented by Omni-University

The purpose of this writing is to provide a cultural perspective and personal interpretation of obedience by viewing the concept of obedience through an African-Centered lens and frame. Merriam-Webster gives us a standard definition for the meaning of obedience, by qualifying it as an act of being responsive, submissive, respectful or compliant to an authority or Power/ presence. Actions that emanate from our responses to an authority, whether parental, political, religious or personal, conscious and/or unconscious, become guiding principles that command our obedience.

Cultural obedience, however, can manifest itself through additional layers of obedience, based upon adherence to external cultural influences that may be in conflict with our orientations, worldview, ethos, mores, and so on. Enlightened Ancestor, Dr. Bobby Wright (1974) noted that obedience, in some circumstances, poses a threat to the cultural norms of African- American identity and unity. Internalized agents of thought can become destructive to the social-cultural well-being of a cultural group and , in fact, operate as anti-self pathogens that culminate in Self-hate.

Dr. Wade Nobles (2002) asserts that “obedience to power” is not the same for African- American interests as it is for other, more powerful, groups. The ability of the "powerful" to control and define the perceptions of the "less powerful", enables the obedience of the "less powerful", to be used against them- to maintain, preserve, and perpetuate the power interests of the "powerful".

The African- Centered Community, preserves obedience through adherence to an African Principle, “The greatest good for the greatest number of people" (Thompson, 1996). According to Ancestor Dr. Anderson Thompson, this African principle is the value by which collective rules, laws and customs guide the behaviors and actions of people of African descent. Hence, “When a people lose their culture, i.e. the knowledge of who they are, they lose the very foundation upon which their existence, as individuals and as a society, is based" .[2] The commitment to being obedient to cultural principles must always be at the forefront of our conscious and unconscious actions, lest we forget that we are a people who are obedient to principles rather than to powers and principalities.[1]

As an African People within a non-African society, our collective value and identity is always threatened by the undermining of our cultural principles. When we are united, our obedience provides the potential for a nation within a nation. When divided, our lost commitment to cultural unity creates a vacuum, forcing us into a defenseless, fall- back position. Thus, we are seen as commodities, i.e., as objects to be sold to the highest bidder.

Cultural obedience requires cultural unity, reciprocity, spiritual resiliency, and collective self-determination as well as knowing, believing and understanding that there is something for us on the other side. Cultural obedience provides the certainty that we are One, i.e, “I am because you are.” Cultural obedience assures that our relationships are symbiotic, rather than parasitic. Cultural obedience strengthens the “circle of life” and assures that it will never be broken.

Enlightened Ancestor, Baba Asa Hilliard asks, “What is the meaning of life without memory?; Cultural life is the obligation for maintaining the cultural library of memory, balancing the scales of Truth/ [the principles of] Maat[2], by doing right/truth and properly instructing those in the way of [obedience] to the Divine.


[1]Ephesians 6:12 KJV For we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

[2]The Goddess, Maat, is the embodiment of the Seven Principles of Maat which are:








Sources Cited

Merriam Webster Dictionary (2021). Obedience.

Nobles, Wade (2002). Notes from Lecture on, African Centered Character and Cultural Precepts. Nsaka Sunsum Teacher Professional Development Session, Kansas City, MO.

Thompson, Anderson, editor (1995). The African Principle. African World Community Press, Chicago, Il. Essay Series, Vol.1; No 2. (i).

Thompson, Anderson (1996). Classroom notes from lecture on African Principle. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, Chicago, IL.

Wright, Bobby (1974). Mentacide: The Ultimate Threat to the Black Race. Retrieved from PDF, URL.

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