Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Honoring Our Enslaved Ancestors

On February 12, 2011, the Afro- American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Central Maryland Chapter in partnership with the St. John Baptist Church (SJBC) Heritage Cluster, hosted an African Libation Ceremony. Libation is a ritual pouring of a drink as an offering to a spirit or god or in memory of those who have died. In certain African cultures, the ritual of pouring libation is an essential ceremonial tradition and a way of giving homage to the ancestors. 

Joseph Ransom (1846-1916)
The ceremony was a tribute to our enslaved ancestors. In preparation, for the event members of the Central Maryland Chapter and SJBC Heritage Cluster were asked to submit the names, date and place of birth and death, slave owners names, and other significant information about their enslaved ancestors. The information was used to create a Slave Commemoration Scroll. The Scroll symbolized the struggles and significant sacrifice they made to their family, community and nation. In honoring them the hope is to focus the attention of the community on the importance of preserving African American heritage and on the role of slavery in American history. There were over 130 names on the scroll.
Henry Dorsey (1844-1943)

Omo Ama Safowah performed the libation ceremony in Twi and called out the names of the ancestors on the scroll as well as recognizing the names of those we will never know. She talked about their sacrifices, and achievement despite great obstacles. It was a very moving experience as the names of our ancestors were called out.

Following the libation ceremony, a pictorial tribute titled Tribute to Enslaved Ancestors which included pictures of individuals listed on the scroll, played. 

 The overall program was a wonderful tribute. I am sure that our ancestors were looking down on us.