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The Living Legacy of the Mkunga with Sankofa Ra

Happy Black History Month to the BWB Community

This month is a occasion for celebration, study, and deep reflection on our ancestors' freedom works. We are able to do what we do today through wisdom inherited from our foremothers, who, in times of upheaval, created new avenues of survival and possibility - oftentimes with nothing other than their own tenacity. Today, we find ourselves in a moment that is weighted with potential. Just as we did in the past, we are feverishly building towards the promise of a Black feminist future - and we are leaning on the radical imaginings of those who came before us in order to get there. Thus, as part of our mission to bring our shared hopes to fulfillment, we are offering our readers this meditation on resilience, healing work in times of crisis, and what it means to stay grounded during a pandemic with womb priestess Sankofa Ra. Sankofa Ra is a born and raised New Yorker whose practice is guided by healing and birthing traditions of Afrakan midwifery, passed down to her by her paternal grandmother. She is the host of Kulture Reclamation, a podcast that honors Black women's birthing traditions by reclaiming the cultural heritage of the mkunga (traditional Black midwife). Kulture Reclamation Pod is updated biweekly with informed episodes that detail the origins, rituals, and living legacy of the mkunga, and is dedicated to returning her to her proper position at the center of the Black community.

Listen to Kulture Reclamation Pod Here

In our previous discussion, Sankofa Ra recalled that the women in her life always held place for a kind of spirituality that for some seemed alien or even threatening - but in reality allowed for a profound soul evolution to take place that eventually led her to her true calling. Along the road, Sankofa Ra has picked up valuable lessons in life, struggle, and rebirth - lessons that have proven to be essential this past year and a half. The following interview is a look into the magnitude of heritage, community, and the unbroken ancestral bonds that for centuries have carried us through tumult, and towards transformation.

What does it mean to sustain community now that community has become digital? What do you think are the possibilities of a community that lives online? Community isn't just a location - it's an interdependent shared culture of spirituality, thoughts, visions, ancestry, social behaviors and rituals that grounds, nurtures and elevates its members. The digital platform is simply a platform for communication. Now that we are universally forced to take a back seat to business as usual, this is the time to transparently assess our individual needs, and the collective's needs for the survival of both. Strategically form virtual meetings that will awaken you to your own purpose in this dimension and time. In addition to realizing your purpose, you can attend virtual classes and workshops on how to cultivate hydroponic foods, create your own clothes, first-aid, build sustainable green homes, build an ancestor altar, and re-connect with family. This pandemic is a lesson to the human race to live with purpose and be healthy contributors to their community (that includes the ecosystem of animals, nature, ether, water, fire and earth) so that we may leave behind a legacy for at least future seven generations to build upon.

Our greatest wealth is each other and the land. The digital realm is another venue for us to speak our narrative but it cannot replace in-person human relationships with self, others, ancestors and nature. This is the time to mind our business of building and healing our communities and eliminate relationships with thoughts, organizations and actions that don't serve our highest good individually and collectively. The Amish people are a prime example of sustainable, interdependent culture that we should closely examine and see as real freedom. It's their ability to do for self and live independently without relying on outside forces to survive. If someone needs a home, they have the skills, tools and land to build a house - no waiting on a bank or a FICO score or cash money. If someone in the community is hungry, everyone knows how to grow food, has access to fresh food, and knows how and where it was grown - no reliance on a job or government assistance to eat. If someone in the community needs furniture, there are skilled artisans in the family or community to build furniture for each other.

This is the time to learn useful, practical skills that will always be needed to serve self, the community and future generations. Money is a value and currency system that can easily be created and agreed upon within the community but the resources of human beings and land is the true, infinite wealth - our ancestors understood this truth. When the time comes that we can come back together and exist face to face with one another again, we will be able to start building progressive, stable communities that will clothe, feed, nurture and provide shelter for everyone on their own terms. At that point we will be in harmony with mother earth, the ancestors, and all elements of life. A repeat of a question from the last interview but one that is still relevant: how are you staying grounded during this time? I've remained grounded in daily communicating with my ancestors, rarely looking at the news and social media, writing short stories, writing poems and producing the podcast. I also attend Zoom meetings with friends for emotional support and virtual nature walks. And an optional/follow up question: Do you also engage in moments of "lift off" - moments of time spent in a place not as firmly tethered to the here-and-now? If so, what purpose do these moments serve for you? Since childhood, I've always engaged in "lift off" via astral projection in my dreams. My new moments of "lift off" are occurring in the art of short story manifestation this year that are aligned with the eight legs of intelligence of the mkunga in the ancestral system of Alkebulan (African) medicine. I become transported into another world of consciousness to tell the scope of intelligence the mkunga has possessed to heal and birth the ones she serves in her community. These moments serve incremental steps of fulfilling my purpose as a mkunga and communion with my ancestors. How has your practice evolved during this time? My practice has evolved to the platform of storytelling and spiritual tools. Most of what is known about Alkebulan healers and birthers communally, nationally and globally has been through the eyes and comprehension of someone outside of our community - despite the intentions. Healing and birthing takes many forms and one of it's oldest and most effective methods is via telling your story on your terms in your own way. The short stories and poems will be included in an oracle blueprint cosmogram card deck set that will teach anyone how to unveil her/his earthly purpose, heroic childhood strides, legacy and aiming life goals that propels one through childhood to master one's purpose and a legacy for others to build upon. In your own words, can you describe for the readers the Kulture Radio project and your goals for this series.

I birthed Kulture Reclamation podcast to begin the rich journey of reclaiming the cultural heritage of the American mkunga by connecting callings, knowledge, experiences, healers, narratives and literary authors to paint a vivid knowing, being and doing of who the mkunga was, why she is no longer a visible authority figure in the USA today, where she came from, the rituals she practiced, how she continued her legacy and when she will return from the shadows to the front lines to heal and birth the black community locally, nationally and globally.

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