By Gogo Thule Ngane
Guest writer for Wake Up World
My culture has nourished me in ways I could have never imagined. The wisdom that my family and ancestors carry has brought me to where I am today. When I look back at my life thus far as an African child growing and living in America, an array of emotions come to me, from laughter to tears. The more I journey into the wisdom that we hold from ancient times to modern day, the more empowered and strong I feel in my walk in this life.
I’d like to share some of the wisdom that continues to nourishes me.
“A man is taller than every mountain he climbs.”
You are greater than any problem that you will face. You hold the potential to meet all that challenges you. It is a matter of trusting yourself and all that you carry within and with you. You are tall because you are greater than this physical body and this personality you’ve created or known. You are tall because you walk on the the shoulders of many who have come before you. As Linda Hogan eloquently put it “you are the result of the love of thousands.” My culture teaches me that my ancestors are still alive and routing for me, guiding me in spirit.
There have been moments when wisdom has flown out from my mouth but seemingly not from me. When light bulbs in my mind bring solutions to the problems I’m faced with. When I acted in courage, standing up for others, instantly without a thought or fear of consequences. Warriors, healers, ancient grandmothers, kings, queens and many others walk with each and every one of us. There is infinite wisdom and strength accessible to us at any time, much greater than any mountain we will climb.
“To get lost is to learn the way.”
I have been lost at times in my life and unfortunately I can’t blame the GPS for all of it. I admit that I have felt bad for being lost because modern day life often makes it seem like we should have it all figured out or together. However it is through being very lost that I was open enough to gain and receive purpose, healing, and wisdom. If I had tried to fill the lost moments and wholes with just any ‘ol thing I could find, I would of missed out on many lessons and a whole lot of meaningful experiences that allowed me to walk strong and purposefully today.
Those that have dedicated their lives to following the wisdom within have appeared lost at times. They’re nomads, their non-conformists, at times they are 20-somethings, or Shepard boys enchanted by lost treasures. Being lost allows you to travel the unpaved road, its challenges you, and forces you to face your fears and deeply look at all that you are honestly. It’s okay to be lost, in fact it’s been my way to a meaningful life aligned with my highest self. I live free when I accept where I am now while not having it all figured out.
“I am because you are.”
What would a post about african proverbs be with out honoring community! “I am because you are” is my interpretation of the South African philosophy of ubuntu, which Desmond Tutu explains “Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself.”
It can be very easy for us to disconnect, separate, and dishonor our undeniable connection to one another when we make judgments about each others actions and/or choose to not understand one another. We say that we just can’t understand how someone could do what ever it is we’ve deemed bad, we don’t allow ourselves to relate, we deny that parts of ourselves that are fully capable of committing the same or very similar acts, but most importantly we can’t understand where they are and thus can’t see from what place they can heal or are healing.
Ubuntu is humbling. Ubuntu brings us back to earth, back to humanity, and allows us to know and express compassion.
I am living from a place of gratitude for being able to walk tall, supported, lost and humble as I journey deeper and live my life more authentically and creatively. I am slowly but surely living unafraid to be who I am and welcome all that life has for me as I co-create.