Shalom, everyone! The following is a lecture by renown educator Rabbi Akwetey Amaah on the importance of studying one’s origins. Because of the the Church’s influence, both West Africans and their Diaspora from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas have been largely mis-educated into thinking that anything and everything in their original cultures is pagan, primitive and should be discarded. What if these cultures we have been taught to look down upon and despise were actually of Israelite origin? Too often, Black/African claims of Israelite heritage are dismissed as “erroneous,” “fantasy,” “desire to raise one’s status,” “wishful thinking” or being from the “influence of Christian missionaries” – these dismissals are nothing more than ignorance, misinformation and even racism at work. West Africa had a long and noble history long before the arrival of the European conqueror. Until recently, we, as people of Black African descent, have never really been allowed to tell our history, and the lack of written history makes it that much harder. This is changing today with research, and one may just find that the vast majority of Israelites are still in West Africa and the Americas. The evidence of this is growing more each day.
Rabbi Akwetey discusses the Israelite origins of the Ga-Dangme people of Ghana, descendants of the tribes of Gad and Dan, sons of the Hebrew patriarch Ya’akov (Jacob). He discusses the history of their migration from ancient Israel into Egypt, south along the Nile River to Ethiopia, then west to the Sudan and into their current locations in the West African nations of Ghana and Togo. Rabbi Akwetey also discusses Ga-Dangme culture and customs and their similarities to Israelite culture including, circumcision of male children, naming and outdooring of newborns on the eighth of life; and the three annual Ga pilgrimage festivals Homowo, Nmaayeli and Nmaatoo and their similarities to Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot respectively.
It is important to note that not all West Africans are of Israelite origin, in fact, the majority of West Africans have no Israelite connections at all. There are, however, a number of tribes in West Africa that appear to be of Israelite origin due to their cultural and historical similarities to the ancient Israelites. Another truth is these tribes, including the Igbos of Nigeria and Ga-Dangmes of Ghana, were largely targeted by European slave traders for capture, transportation, and enslavement in North America and the Caribbean. This means that their descendants, the modern day African-American and African-Caribbean are most likely of Israelite origin also.
In the words of the late great Marcus Garvey, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” Knowing our history is a cultural obligation and essential for survival:
How Important Is Studying One’s Origins – Akwetey Amaah
Video from Akwetey Amaah/YouTube