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Mama Koko's New Year Wisdom: Honoring The Past Is The Way To A Better Future

I am the daughter of Marcelite Marie Landry, the granddaughter of George Esther Rabb, the great-granddaughter of Effie Gladys Webb, and the great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Agràs. I begin with the names of my maternal line because they are sacred scriptures of DNA, strands of strength that empower me. Although other names may be unknown to me, I know that despite their alleged anonymity, there’s a knowing, an epistemic remembrance made possible through making connections. This prevents me from being lured into amnesia and a cultural death. Calling their names is a libation of sound vibrations that reverberate, opening infinite possibilities of being. I continue to remember to remember. The Bantu people of West Central Africa express this connection in the proverbial phrase umuntu umuntu nagabuntu—meaning a person is a person because of people. This sacred imperative of collective being drives me to live with purpose and an unwavering commitment to community.

I come from ancestors who continue inspiring me to keep tapping in to unlock the self. I listen to their whisperings, urging me to allow the self to have free rein to explore the beauty of all God’s majesty. At the core of my being is the intention to be in service to others—but most expressly to be in service of my “self,” for whom I have primary custodial care. How do I cultivate this responsibility and maintain this commitment? Here, I share the strategies that have helped me chart a course toward unlimited possibilities, in hopes that you uncork your life.

Kokahvah Zauditu-Selassie, Ph.D., aka Mama Koko | Photo credit: Schaun Champion

Start by removing the barriers that keep you from journeying toward the best you and achieving that inner peace. These roadblocks hinder your progress and lead to imbalance. I refer to these imbalances as vibrational-frequency disorders. The medical field uses words like stress, depression, cancer and high blood pressure to describe the symptoms of this unevenness. Begin with an assessment. What are the barriers? Who erected them? How do you replace this unwellness with optimal health and wellness? How can you open your spiritual channels? In which areas do you need guidance, balance and support? What do you need to augment your life so you can work toward your goals in a meaningful way? Go within and answer these questions. Remember, any thoughts you might have about your life can be changed.

Once you have made the assessment, ask, What is holding me up or supporting me? Make a list of all
your assets and advocates, as well as areas where you need guidance. We must strive to balance our lives with reciprocity, the principle of life. African spirituality scholar K. Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau explores this notion of reciprocity through the Bantu concept Simba Simbi: “I hold up that which holds me up.” In all that you endeavor, honor your commitment to watch over and protect yourself by holding up that which holds you up.

This idea of Simba Simbi can be repeated ad infinitum—because like the ouroboros, the snake who swallows his tail, a symbol of eternity, the list of what you support and what supports you is unlimited in this universe of abundance, prosperity and possibility. No matter what it is you are doing, you can recenter the self by focusing on this principle and counting on joy. It is a way of praying and being grateful all day. Empower yourself with thoughts that reinforce your best life and your best self, in alignment with the full potential with which you were created. Narrate your life’s journey—reciting stories that hold you up, stories that affirm you, even as you reserve space in your self-awareness for growth.

In Ancient KMT (Egypt), the Goddess Ma’at represents balance. The deceased person’s heart had to be as light as her ostrich feather when weighed on her scales of truth, in order to earn a favorable place in eternity. Do not let your heart get too heavy. Unburden yourself as you declare your intention daily, and align your head and heart for optimal living. One of my prayers is, “May I be more like myself today than I was yesterday.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

Balance that loving investment in yourself with love and empathy for others. Follow your mind and the yearnings of your heart. Get close to nature. Deeply breathe in the air. Touch the earth. Walk on it with bare feet and feel its energy. Dip your feet in the sea or river. Be inspired by a tree, a bird, a bee. Connect to these forces. Gather their essences. You will gain strength, clarity and a healthy perspective.

Also learn to dream aloud. Dreams that occur during the day are necessary portals to conscious self-fashioning. Make vision boards to help you envision and manifest what your best life looks like. How are you showing up for yourself and your people? Expand your horizons, and revision the ways you are imagining your life. And find humor in as many things as possible. Laughter is a good medicine. Keep it light, and enjoy yourself every chance you get—because a deep laugh is soul-cleansing. You know what it sounds like. You know the harmony you feel when producing that sacred sound. It is powerful enough to shake the unbearable burdens from you.

Free your mind from limited, negative, pessimistic thinking. Cultivate positive vibrations, and attune your spirits to higher frequencies. Become a radiant light and an inspiration to yourself. Surround yourself with light-giving people, and make as many memories with them as you can. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” May we all achieve our possibilities. Ase and Amen.

Kokahvah Zauditu-Selassie, Ph.D., (@comptonauthor), is a retired professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities and author of the novel The Second Line.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of ESSENCE magazine, available on newsstands now.

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