Life is a journey with many beginnings and endings as one travels from one stage to the next. A rite of passage celebrates that entry, marked by a successful journey from one era and entering another. In African societies, there were often rites of passage for young adults, formal processes and in some cases trials, that after successfully accomplished, would herald a young adult into adulthood. Even now, in American society, we celebrate 18th birthdays or high school graduations and each of them has a symbolic inference to transition into adulthood. One thing that is consistent among any rite of passage is learning. One must come out of the other side with a lesson learned.
In the spirit of learning, Griots Republic explored some literary gems that we believe will support the transition of young black men to adulthood, each was chosen for its subject matter, the lifelong lessons they provide, and spiritual enlightenment.
Where there is no movement or growth, there is only stagnation and stillness.
A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest Gaines
In a fictional town in Louisiana, a young man named Jefferson faces the death penalty for a crime he vehemently denies committing and while the evidence suggests the same, his attorney does little to validate it but instead pursues a defense which attempts to convince the jury that he is just too stupid to have committed the crime and possesses little if any redeeming social value. In essence, it’s a waste of time and resources to kill him. Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma enlists the aid of one of her dear friends whose son is a school teacher. She requests that he simply teach him, help him walk with dignity in the direst of circumstances.
The Celestine Prophecy
by James Redfield
While considered flawed in its literary structure and overall writing, the Celestine Prophecy has many lessons between its covers as it focuses on the ongoing battle waged between spiritualism/enlightenment and science/technology and their impact on society. It also discusses western society’s shift from Abrahamic religion to eastern belief systems such as Buddhism.
Based on a core of 9 insights, the narrator of the Celestine Prophecy reveals them as he travels through South America in search of truth and enlightenment, painting a clear picture that the older paths to truth and self-actualization are still open and relevant.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives
by Dan Millman
Ultimately, the journey of life is a quest for happiness and contentment. The story of Dan Millman, a world-class athlete, takes the reader along on his journeys guided by an ancient warrior by the name of Socrates. Dan is faced with many choices and his destiny leads him toward a battle the likes of which he has never experienced, of life and death and the reader witnesses his journey to become a peaceful warrior. There are universal truths abound.
The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community
by Malidoma Patrice Somé
The experience of reading The Healing Wisdom of Africa allows a person to understand the value of traditional African life and its relationship with the natural world. Rituals are as natural as breathing to the continent and ultimately, this book assists readers to understand that these rituals have a place in modern life today, on and off the continent of Africa. Touted as a guidebook to discovering (and for some reclaiming) the true meaning of life’s purpose, The Healing Wisdom of Africa helps us discover and explore rituals that are meaningful, healing and deeply valuable even in a world moving at the speed of light.
Kmt: In The House Of Life
by Ayi Kwei Armah
Often not even considered as part of the African continent, Egypt (KMT) provides the backdrop for this work of historical fiction. Lindela is mourning the loss of her dear friend and perhaps by universal design, death sends her on a journey for the meaning of life. She is exposed to age-old Egyptian texts and she begins the arduous task of translating them. The knowledge propels her to seek answers to all her unanswered questions.
The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient Teachings In
The Ways Of Relationships
by Sobonfu E. Somé
Teacher and mentor, Sobonfu Somé helps us improve intimacy in our lives by providing the blueprint to making our relationships stronger, more powerful and fulfilling. She helps the reader understand the need to be intentional, even ritualistic about preparing and initiating intimacy and its direct correlation to sexuality and spirituality. The reader is taught to remove ego and relinquish control from relationships and allow them to be ruled by the spirit instead. There is a stark difference between the western views of intimacy and relationship than those of the Motherland. After reading The Spirit of Intimacy, there is no going back. What is old has become new.
Mutant Message Down Under
by Marlo Morgan
Arguably the most controversial of all the books on this list, the veracity of the claims that Mutant Message Down Under is a work of non-fiction continues to be a long-standing subject of debate. It tells the story of an American woman’s journey through the Australian outback with a group of indigenous aboriginal people. Fact or fiction, the story is the author’s way of presenting eternal, even universal truths that some of us in this generation either have forgotten or simply have chosen to ignore, although they are still woven in many cultures today. The reader is encouraged to seek the message. There is an opportunity for your view on life to be changed.
Two Thousand Seasons
by Ayi Kwei Armah
This is a hauntingly vivid and thought-provoking account of a group of friends who become captives of European slavers, and with the aid of an African King during their voyage across the Atlantic, successfully overthrow their captors in a full out slave revolt. The revolt is not the end of the story. In fact, the former captives return home to restart their lives and start a campaign to end the European invasion and the practice of human trafficking. Two Thousand Seasons is not an easy read for two reasons: the subject matter and the style of writing, however, upon completing it, the reader is educated and forever changed.
Amusingly enough, this age of slave raiding is known by Europeans as The Enlightenment. Enlightenment indeed.
by Dr. Daniel Black
When one imagines the horrors of the slave trade across the middle passage, it is hard to conceive that there is a way to make the story artful and compelling without diluting the truth of the content, however, it is accomplished by Dr. Black in this work. The Coming forces the reader to bear witness, with amazingly vivid detail to the travesties inflicted on those abducted from Africa and their will to persevere and to preserve their heritage and identity in a strange and hostile land.
Carried on reverent, even poetic language, it is as if the ancestors themselves are telling their story.