PhD Journey: Sankofa – My Work in the World

To do that which is of value is eternity. And (a person) called forth by his (or her) works does not die –Seti I” (Karenga, 1984)

Many years ago, I began searching to understand who I am and what I am to contribute to the world, known as the “fundamental Fanonian [Franz Fanon] questions…’who am I; am I really who I am and am I all I ought to be’”(Karenga, 2004, pp. 268 – 269) My search began as a result of emotional and physical abuse in my first marriage and postpartum depression. After we separated, I was set adrift in the world unsure of my identity and without the skills to financial take care of myself. It was the lost of self that prompted me to begin studying psychology. My study of psychology was unique in that during that 80s and early 90s it was quite easy to take courses in a variety of subjects from a “black perspective” – including sociology, psychology, economics and literature. I also studied every self-help book I could get my hands on; I made affirmation tapes, and wrote volumes of journals.

The struggle to stabilize my financial life is what led to me to develop a tool that would reconnect me with my emotional-self and its relationship to how I express in the world in my personal relationships and my professional identity. Over time, I created a workshop initially called the ‘VisionBook” workshop, which is now known as the Asuwa[1] workshop.

My journey reflects of the concept “Sankofa” from the Akan people of Ghana, “there is no shame in going back to fetch that which has been forgotten”. It is literally through Sankofa that I do my work, as I am the co-founder and Executive Director of Sankofa Cultural Institute (SCI). Through our organization (which my second husband I started in 1997) I am able to offer wellness programs to the black community in Oakland. The main objective in doing my doctorate in transpersonal psychology is to develop my theory healing that will serve as the guiding principles of the Sankofa Wellness Programs. I am particularly interested in the intersection of cultural identity and the self-actualization.To find my way as an Ubuntu[2] psychologist, that in both my life and my work I: (1) recognize Spirit in all aspects of life, (2) appreciate people’s spiritual journey, (3) facilitate movement towards becoming one with the Creator, (4) help increase people’s strength from their experiences, (5) keep people aligned with their purpose and (6) acknowledge that people have purpose. (Washington, p. 37)

References

Karenga, M. (1984). Selections from the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt. Los Angeles: The Univerity of Sankore Press.

Karenga, M. (2004). Maat: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics: Routledge New York & London.

Washington, K. Zulu traditional healing, Afrikan worldview and the practice of Ubuntu: Deep thought for Afrikan/Black psychology.


[1] Asuwa is a Yoruba terms which means to fully actualize your essence in contribution to helping others realize their destiny

[2] Ubuntu concept is expressed in the African proverb ‘I am because we are”

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