Blessed Day! Thank You for taking the time to share Ancestral Voices, a documentary about African Spirituality with us, and being willing to express your innermost feelings on this project.
If you could please state your name and any credentials that you have.
Verona Spence-Adofo Filmmaker and Researcher.
2nd BaDalian Adofo BA (Hons), PGCE, MA; Visual Artist, Author, Filmmaker and Teacher
Could you please give us some background history on how Ancestral Voices came to fruition and who or what was the driving force to do this project and see it through?
Ancestral Voices was conceptualised from discussions we had in the spring of 2010. We both had a keen interest in learning about African spirituality and one of the things that stood out for both of us was how different it was compared to the negative portrayals that we had been conditioned with. In fact, it was the total opposite. What we found was empowering wisdom that gave life a deeper meaning, enabling a deeper connection of self and the environment around us.
We were compelled to create a platform that opened up a necessary discourse about these teachings and why they have been largely stigmatised as opposed to being thoroughly explored and respected like other spiritual/religious faiths.
Where are some of the places this documentary has taken you and who are some of the contributors to this project?
Since embarking on this journey we have travelled to Ghana, Haiti, USA, South Africa and Brazil, largely at our own expense, with some support via donations.
The first film, Ancestral Voices: Esoteric African Knowledge, was fully self-funded and shot in Ghana and the United Kingdom. The film provides an overview of the structure surrounding these traditions and discusses issues such as the impact of colonialism and media representation. It uses comparative analysis to explore some of the values and ideologies across systems of faith to pose the question; if all these systems are quite similar, then on what basis is African Spirituality still held to be wholly ‘evil’ or ‘devil worship’ for that matter?
The second film Ancestral Voices: Spirit is Eternal is a systematic analysis of key philosophies and practices found across all African and derived systems since the times of the Ancient Kemetians (Egyptians) to contemporary times- both on the continent and in the Diaspora. Exploring areas such as the conception of the Creator, the Forces of Nature as well as African forms of prayer and veneration.
What audience is this Documentary geared towards?
The upcoming film is geared towards anyone seeking to gain a wider perspective of African spiritual philosophies and practice(s), particularly those who feel that they have been disconnected from these traditions. However, the wisdom is something that transcends any particular group and will further enlighten one on aspects of all existing faiths and religions. Those interested in comparative religious studies will find it useful as will anyone with a keen interest in Nature-centred Faiths will find the information beneficial.
For people who are newly awakening to their spirituality, what advise can you give them? Where should they begin their search and journey?
“I would give the same advice that I was given. Which is to call on your ancestors. I remember being at a cross roads in my life knowing that I internally I yearning for something but I did not know what exactly it was. I knew mainstream religions were not for me and found that I was naturally led to all things spiritual. So found great interest in ‘New Age’ books and teachings, eventually they led me to look into my own lineage and ancestral culture. It was then that I was advised by a friend that I should call on my ancestors, to literally call them by name, pray to and honour them. Initially I was apprehensive, but once I started doing this practice, I found that I started receiving signs and confirmation of their presence in my life and they have been guiding me ever since.”
“The Ancestors are really the best place to start, as they are our direct contact to the spirit world, as they now exist as Spiritual Beings and we are as a result of them. Creating an altar with their pictures where offerings of water and sweets are provided to nourish their souls and cherish our memories of them are key to opening a constant dialogue of communication. Staying aware to the signs and symbols that nature offers as well as messages in dreams written down and read over time are also good teachers of our spiritual development. Read widely across faith systems to broaden understandings of the interconnections and practices that can aid in growth.
What is the importance of connecting to our roots?
Connecting to your root is essential, as the ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) proverb says ‘Know thy self’. By understanding ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, lineage, emotions, potential etc, we gain mastery of Self. It begins the process of focusing internally rather than externally. By connecting to our roots, we connect back to the wisdom of the ancient ancestors, who reside in our DNA, by connecting with this wisdom we activate aspects within ourselves that awaken a deeper level of understanding.
This process is self-empowering and necessary for all to gain balance and knowledge of self. It is also necessary in aiding one to discover their personal destinies, the reason(s) for which we manifest on this plane of existence.
What knowledge does this film have for non-ethnic people, and how can they apply it to their lives?
The message within this film transcends race, as it is applicable to humanity as a whole. It explores teachings that take us back to the earliest spiritual philosophies of the first humans on the planet. This is invaluable information for anyone with an interest in indigenous spiritual teachings, ecological philosophies or wishing to learn more about rituals to use.
The Rituals covered are from various systems that will aid anyone who seeks to better understand or additionally practice an African Centred spiritual practice.
How can Non-ethnic people who want to tap into our spiritual systems make that connection?
The spiritual traditions are uniquely based on the concept of the Life Force, the animating spark or spirit that gives us Life. It is given of the Creator and is present in all things. It is not particular to a race, rather to a common mind, as it is derived, the Source. So first and foremost it is about trusting oneself, understanding its principles, particularly how we treat others in the way we live our lives.
Read widely across various traditions to better understand it to see it resonates. African systems are inclusive and ultimately, it is about how one feels, so observing any effects from rituals will be useful to developing the Spiritual Self of any person.
I would like to take the time to Sincerely Thank You for an indept behind the scenes look into Ancestral Voices. I enjoyed the Documentary and learned some key knowledge that I will hold dear as I apply it to my spiritual practice. I do look forward to the next film and I wish you the best of luck.
From top to bottom: Dalian Adofo & Verona Spence-Adofo; The Orisha; Haiti
Ancestral Voices: Spirit is Eternal is currently in post-production and seeking help for completion. Find out more about the film project below…
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