To: Abusua ne Adamfo Nyinaa, All Family & Friends,
Every year, around this time, many of the ethnic groups of West Africa gather to observe a new harvest and a new year. The families all host reunions, bringing in extended family members from near and far. This causes small villages and even larger towns to swell with people returning to their home towns after a long absence. It is heart-warming to see, and inspirational to experience.
The ODWIRA (African New Year) ritual celebration initiated here in the U.S., in 1968 by Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I, is our observation of this ancient African tradition. As they gather together across the water, we participate here with the other descendants of our West African ancestors in this recognition of our common cultural heritage.
This year’s celebration was be held on Saturday, October 12, 2019, at Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center, in Jamaica, NY. Tickets were only $50.00 each. Entertainment was provided by the fabulous Akoko Nante Ensemble, and music by DJ Laurex.
In our unity, lies our strength. When we take an opportunity to unite, we re-affirm our connection with one another and with our history, our culture and our identity. By coming together, we acknowledge the value in cooperating with one another to identify challenges, set goals, and prepare for the coming year.
In West Africa this New Year observation can last for 2 weeks. During that time, we share tales of the joys and sorrows that have visited us in the past year. We take the time to say good-bye, together, to loved ones whom we have lost in the past year. We share a meal of the first yam, and we greet the new born family members. We recognize and make offerings to family and community shrines.
Life in America immerses us in a hybrid culture designed to invalidate our African identity. This process of acculturation can be subtle yet pervasive. We are often unaware of its effect on us, yet it injures our health and handicaps our development. Observing traditional events such as Odwira, can be an important step in your journey to reclaim parts of your cultural identity, and power that may have been lost or stolen.
Embrace your African Legacy.