Of the many things that were instilled within me during my years in Rites of Passage, one of the most important
was the understanding of sound character. Webster defines character as, "moral excellence and firmness". In Western society many have COMPLETELY taken leave of their senses, and not only do they no longer show honor and respect to the elders, in their quest to acquire material things the intrinsic value of integrity has been all but forgotten.
In Rites, we were taught in the forming of the Unity Circle the order and value of the resources of our people. In the very center of the circle were the babies, the "watoto". Children are our blessing, and they come to bring infinite possibility to our futures. In the Yoruba tradition, it is believed that they are our ancestors returned to bestow blessing upon us, but also to teach us. Outside of them were our elders. These individuals have lived, loved, lost, fought, bled and sacrificed so that we could be here. Our elders stand to fortify us with the strength of their age, experience, and wisdom. Outside of them, and lastly were the adults and the young adults. We represented the power and the strength of our community. Ours are the strong backs and hands to work with and for our elders and our babies. We are the ones that will carry on the wisdom of our elder's experience and hopefully add some of our own.
The "Sifa" has always been near and dear to my heart because it speaks directly to what guiding principles in our relationships to our world and our human family are most important. We MUST honor our dead, those who lived, loved, and struggled for us. We MUST continue their work, sacrifice, and dedication, for if we fail, not only do we invalidate our own lives to meaningless waste, the lives of our ancestors and elders allike become a legacy of struggle in vain. Lastly, we MUST realign ourselves with what is most important. Our principles and our character are the fabric of who we are as a people, who are children will become, a what kind of world they will inherit. The Sifa is a glowing reminder of what is most important and how we can continue to grow and evolve in a legacy of greatness.
May we always remember those who have gone before us.
May we be inspired by their vision and valor.
May their lives continuously remind us:
that people are more important than possessions;
that principle is more important than power;
and that service is more important than success.
May whatever we do be shaped and molded by honesty, competence, and commitment.
May our children and our children's children carry forth with pride the nobility of our history and traditions.
To the Creator of us all, we dedicate our lives to make this world better and more beautiful for the generations to come.