The community is speaking! Here are the first nominees for the South Florida Council of African Elders. Do you know someone 62 years or greater in age, who has lived a life of focus and service, and who can assist in guiding us to our greater good? Nominate them below! Check back often to learn more about the nominees, their upcoming work, and opportunities to meet them.
“People participation is the highest evolved form of governance, but it has one stringent condition: That the people be fully educated and informed, and mature to be productive participants. In traditional African context some sort of rites of Passage existed to assess people's viability to contribute to different areas of the society.
Elders are responsible for continually contemplating the good and the right. Because of their Eldership status, they are not-- or should not be—driven by personal interests or individual rewards. They cannot be tempted or influenced by appeals to favoritism or personal desires. The status of Eldership places them above the needs of manipulating, of “getting over” or “what's in it for me personally?” Although male and female Elders have distinct responsibilities in traditional life, in general, as Elders, they share in the responsibility of correcting imbalances, maintaining peace, and revitalizing community life. Their singular goal is to guide and guarantee the cooperative good and collective advancement. The judgments and decisions of the Elders are always consistent with their community's cultural integrity and directed toward Truth and Justice.
Elders were and are the guardians of the culture, traditions, and history of the people. Integrity, generosity, wisdom, articulateness, subtlety, patience, tactfulness, gratefulness, and being listened to and respected by others are all qualities of an Elder. Understandably, with Eldership, one's status and value in the community rises. Although the primary work of the Elder is to advise, guide, and oversee the living in community, their fundamental value and purpose lies in teaching the young what it means to be human. The Elder knows the traditions, history, values, beliefs and cultural laws that are inviolate. Accordingly, the experience and wisdom of the Elder is readily sought and freely shared with others. Elders are charged with the task of understanding both the material and spiritual requisites of life. In fact, to have Elders live with you, and for you to have available their daily guidance, is considered a great blessing and advantage. It is thought to be an honor to even be in the presence of an Elder. They serve as a link between the past and the present while guaranteeing that our way of life is extended into the future.
As Elders, both men and women devote themselves to the higher responsibility of utilizing the collective to guide and direct the permanent ascension of the community and to channel it's vital life force (spirit). The utilization and understanding of the natural spiritual power of the community is, in fact, perceived as the “wisdom of Eldership”. This is an all-consuming task. To do this, Elders are generally not involved in the survival struggles of life. They devote themselves to the full-time pursuit of wisdom—the understanding and application of high values and traditions of the community and the spiritual meaning of being human. In effect, the Elders “work” was and is to synthesize wisdom from long life experiences, to connect the visible (material) and invisible (spiritual) realms, and to formulate all into a legacy of the good life for future generations.
Elders, like young people, are considered to be a full part of African communities. Although they may be physically weak, they are considered in Bậntu and Akan societies, for example, to be a powerful social force. They are spiritually strong and wise enough to maintain the cohesion of the community, but they are also able to build the moral foundation of the community's youth and the generations to come.”
1. I am not from Africa. Does this Council have anything to do with me?
In the Cultural Wellness movement, we use the term ‘African’ to refer to all people whose families originated on the continent of Africa, including those whose ancestors were trafficked to other parts of the world during the atrocity of enslavement.
The purpose of using the term African to collectively refer to these descendants is to eliminate all the artificial and needless divisions between us that arise when we refer to ourselves by geographic or other sub-groupings (African American, Jamaican/Jamaican American, Bohemian, Haitian/Haitian American, etc.) Referring to us as African is not designed to ignore or remove our other cultural affiliations and pride and is intended only to help us find strength in unity.
2. What is this South Florida Council of African Elders?
The South Florida Council of African Elders is a new governance group for our area, born of feedback from the community during local Community Think Tank meetings where the needs of people of African Descent are discussed. During the meetings, people of all ages acknowledged and expressed great longing for a restoration of the role of Elder in our communities.
African communities on the continent historically and in the present-day count on the wisdom and lived experience of the people who have thrived through times good and bad. These elders share knowledge with people who are traveling through life and encountering various opportunities and concerns. Our work here and now is to capture the historical strengths and leadership of our Elders, and blend in the power and resilience we have developed in our survival and thriving through enslavement, for use as tools for tomorrow.
3. What will the Council do?
The Council’s purpose is to harvest the lifelong skills and wisdom of African American Elders for the good of the community. The Council will interact with our communities, local and eventually, national, leadership in faith, government, or other areas on behalf of the people of African Descent in Broward, Miami-Dade, and West Palm Beach counties.
According to African American History Professor Manu Ampim, “Every 'Black' community should establish a council of elders to help guide that particular community. There are a number of examples of African societies governed by elders (gerontocracy) because of their collective and accumulative wisdom. This is an important philosophy that should be adopted because a council of elders could be consulted in a variety of matters, ranging from family or marriage disputes, community-wide issues, naming of buildings and community centers, and directing resources to supporting important projects. Without a council of elders most Black communities will remain disorganized and lacking direction and effective leadership.”
4. Will the council follow ancient African religious or spiritual practices that I might not be able to support due to my own faith, religion, or cultural practices? Will it adhere to ancient practices that might have excluded the role or involvement of some community members?
The community and council members need not worry that the activities of its governance will conflict with personal, spiritual, or religious beliefs. The Council’s composition will include men and women who have lived a quality life of service and who have achieved the esteemed status of Elder as they have advanced in years.
Restoring the necessary and healthy relationship with the Elder phase of life and status retrieves the humanity of all, setting our worldview back in proper balance. The council returns power to communities and decreases involvement with law enforcement or governmental units to regulate environments and hold norms for safety. People of African descent will have role models much more powerful than mentors, who will afford us a new vision of what is possible for our lives.
5. How will the council be selected and installed?
Nominees must meet these criteria:
· The Elder must be of African descent.
· The Elder must be one who embraces leadership and growth, not defined as an Elder merely by age but rather by good repute and service to the community.
· The Elder must be greater than 62 years of age.
· The Elder must complete an Elder's Rite of Passage.
· The Elder must be nominated by one or more members of the South Florida African (descent) community.
· The Elder must attend council meetings and be available to provide guidance to the diverse local African community, including individuals, organizations, government, and faith leaders.
The Elder’s service to the community will be reviewed by the Nominating Committee. This review includes an interview of the Elder and his or her references. After completing the Elder’s Rite, the Nominees will be installed in a public ceremony, and this will establish the first South Florida Council of African Elders.
Do you have more questions?
Please contact us at (754) 777-0806 or email email@example.com.
Thank you for your participation in the process of helping our culture heal.
Need a printed or electronic copy of the FAQ or nomination forms? Want to find out more about what the Elder does?
Download imformtion here.
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