Our African tradition, those who have lived among us are the keepers of the ancestral voice. They connect our past with the present. And in our tradition, ancestors are always given places of honor at ceremonies. They should always be the first informed and consulted, and it is with their permission that we are blessed to have this family reunion.
At this reunion and always, we must give honor and pay tribute to our ancestors. This is required of us for they are the repositories of knowledge and the springs of wisdom. They are called the beloved ones and we are always fascinated as we recall with great interest their stories about their parents, grandparents, childhood and the life they lived. We live with our ancestors in a mutual regard, as they speak to us from the spirit world, in a wisdom that has been passed on to them from one generation to another. It is our duty then, out of our respect for our ancestors, to listen to their teachings and in doing so, to be wise and heed their counsel. Ancestors are the link between the generations and the wisdom they pass on to us is their greatest gift of all. Our ancestors bring the teachings and memories that can only come with time, because these are based on knowledge and experience. And the older the ancestor is, the deeper the wisdom.
At this reunion, we pay a very special tribute to all of our ancestors and thank them for all that they have given to us. The memory of their lives will never ever be forgotten, for each time we gather, we will remember them. We will honor them. We will recognize them through the rituals of our culture and ask that as they rest eternally, may their souls be peaceful, well and happy. For becoming an ancestor makes each one of them the great equalizer and healer. In saluting them, this restores humility and honor to our own lives. So let us embrace and bless our ancestors as we thank them for giving us a very special and natural relationship with them. Praise be their souls forever.
BECAUSE we have forgotten our ancestors, our children no longer give us honor.
BECAUSE we have lost the path our ancestors cleared
kneeling in perilous undergrowth, our children cannot find their way.
BECAUSE we have banished the God of our ancestors,
our children cannot pray.
BECAUSE the old wails of our ancestors have faded beyond our hearing, our children cannot hear us crying.
BECAUSE we have abandoned our wisdom of mothering and fathering, our befuddled children give birth to children they neither want nor understand.
BECAUSE we have forgotten how to love, the adversary is within our gates, an holds us up to the mirror of the world shouting, "Regard the loveless"
Therefore we pledge to bind ourselves to one another, to embrace our
lowliest, to keep company with our loneliest, to educate our illiterate, to feed our starving, to clothe our ragged, to do all good things, knowing that we are more than keepers of our brothers and sisters.
We ARE our brothers and sisters.
IN HONOR of those who toiled and implored God with golden tongues, and in gratitude to the same God who brought us out of hopeless desolation, we make this pledge.
Dr. Maya Angelou