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Episode 22: WOKE Spirituality with Chief Ewe Fayemi Akbani

March 02, 202228 min read


Let’s examine and rethink something outside the classroom that still affects our children greatly—spirituality! Please welcome Chief Ewe Fayemi Akbani a High Priest in Ifa, a Yoruba religion and system of divination. Last season we introduced Ifa, but today we’re going to explore more into that philosophy that WE are the masters of our destiny. FIND OUT WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO ON YOUR RE: WOKE JOURNEY


Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello there and welcome to rework rewriting our kids education podcast. My name is Michelle person and we are on a journey. We are rethinking re-examining and re-educating ourselves and our children. And not just on things that relate to the classroom, we examine and rethink everything. One of our most listened to episodes in season two, dealt with how we address religion. We spoke with Jimmy Macintosh, the new priest and the African spirituality system of . And he shared with us some of the empowering concepts that are taught in that system. I've heard it once said that religion requires blind faith, but spirituality removes the blindfold and dares you to see for yourself. I don't know about you, but I would like our children to be able to see the world for themselves. And oh yeah. Are you Speaker 0 00:01:19 Last season, we learned that and we have the power to divine. Our future for ourselves. All we need is competence and the proper tools today. We're going to explore how impactful that philosophy can be for young children. The idea that there is no need to live in fear because we have everything we need to live a happy and the built life. And we are the masters of our destiny. Our guest today is chief a way, and she is a high priestess in the African spiritual system. And she works specifically with children. Thank you so much for being here today, to talk to us about the African spirituality system of and how we can introduce it to our children. I am so excited for our conversation today about awesome. So I want, can you get the people at home who are listening, um, just your background and, um, about your journey and what led you to, um, to begin practicing IBA and how you got started and what you do now within, within the church? Speaker 0 00:02:25 Sure, sure. So, um, I, I started my journey a long time ago, about 30 years. So in 1,987, will you talk about something that long ago? I feel like you should say it the old fashioned way in 1987. Um, I had a good friend of mine who gave me a book about Santeria and started talking to me about things that were metaphysical and about, um, about God and understanding God in a way at the time. Um, I was Christian and brought up in the Protestant church, um, but always had a yearning to feel God, to feel my connection to God, and also to feel the connection to my ancestors, although I did not have the words for it, but I remember as a little kid asking a lot of questions about, so what's your mother's name and what's her mother's name and what's her mother's name and where did they live and how did they live? Speaker 0 00:03:32 And just asking a lot of ancestral questions, although I had no frame of reference for it. Um, I'd like to say that I've been around the world in search of God. Um, and some of that is I really love metaphysics. I love, um, spirituality. And so through the years I have tried different things, um, Buddhism and Hinduism and that wisdom and new thought and all different kinds of, uh, ways to experience God, Agni, the whole triad, chanting and metaphysics and all the different things. Right. But I always felt as if I was at my aunt's house and never at my mother's house. And so, um, at some point I ran into a friend who had a friend who was a priest and he fi and she said, uh, I have this wonderful person I'd like you to meet. And we ended up having kind of like tea together, getting all together. Speaker 0 00:04:33 And we really clicked immediately. And, um, she gave me a bone reading and that bone reading said that he filed was for me. And at that time I had just left new thought church because I was really interested in something that was culturally appropriate for myself and for my children. And I just did not feel new thought was that, um, and so that led me to a journey, any FA um, and what I love about he fought for myself is that for 30 years, I had been doing metaphysics and doing Reiki and looking at Taoism and looking at, um, Tai Chi and looking at all the different ways that we experienced God. And I felt like he fucked fits all of that within it. Um, because if I is the study of nature is the study of the wisdom of nature, the study of our nature and understanding ourselves. Speaker 0 00:05:36 And so it did not require me to, um, release parts of myself. It allowed me to bring all of me, uh, to the map, all of me, to, um, to this spiritual practice and tradition. And that, that is such an amazing journey. Um, I am floored. It's funny. I was, when we spoke last season to Jimmy, who was the one who brought this, um, this concept, this, um, this new way of thinking that I'm listening to you and I'm hearing the parallels in your story. Um, he also started off by searching, um, by researching Santeria and voodooism and things of that nature, which led him to being able to be introduced into, into EFI. Um, he was also searching for truth. He was questioning everything. Um, he had grown up similarly to you and, um, and a, um, an a, in a Christian household and, and began to ask questions and, and was, was looking for answers. Speaker 0 00:06:35 And he also felt that the answers that were provided to him through just made the most sense. It, it spoke to him. So it's, it's, um, it's, it's funny and interesting to me to listen to your journey because of there's so many parallels, um, between the two of you. Um, so one of the things that the reason we have you come on today is because one of the things that Jimmy and I talked about, um, is the idea of how powerful, um, you know, finding those answers, that truth, that cultural, centerness that finding a home, being at your house, not your aunt's house, uh, when you're on that search for God. And those in those answers, how powerful of, of a truth that this can be for children. Um, and we, we begin, we began talking, he and I, and he gave me your name and said that you definitely were someone who works, um, not exclusively, but very heavily with the, um, with the children in, in the church. So can you talk to me about your role and, and you know, what your role and how you help cultivate and grow this, this search for truth among young people, um, you know, how long you've been doing it, why you like it, like all of that. I want to know everything. Speaker 0 00:07:47 Yes, yes, yes, yes. So I am an educator by trade, a special educator by trade. And so I've been working with young children and their families professionally for about 30 years. Um, and so I like to say children are my business, uh, and my passion and my life's work. Um, I began to pray as I was on my journey, my personal journey for, for, for there to be one me in the world, not at, at work, I do one thing. And in my spare time, I do another thing, but I was looking for a synchronicity, any fi we call that alignment of the head and the heart when the head and the heart are aligned, we're moving forward in the array, in our destiny, on the, on the road of our destiny. And so I, um, so I've always loved working with children and always loved working with families, um, and began really this search for something, for my own children, uh, wherever we went, whatever church I was going to at the time, I always became the Sunday school teacher because I wanted something for my kids, right. Speaker 0 00:09:05 I have a 21 year old and 19 year old and a 15 year old. Um, and before that, my sister had children before me. And so I had my nephews and I were always looking for a way for them to be steeped in spirituality, because I knew how important it had been for me. And I knew if we could start it earlier, they could have an even more, um, powerful experience. What I know about children is they understand themselves spiritually. Um, we work with children each week. Uh, I have a business called for kids if I, for kids, LLC. And we have been meeting for the last two years during the pandemic on zoom once a week with, with a group of children from across the us. And we've also had kids in Canada and kids in number muda. So we also have had children in Bermuda. Speaker 0 00:10:01 And so what we know is that when we began to talk to the children about their spiritual experiences, they're having a lot of spiritual experiences. This was confirmation for me because I was brought, my children were brought into the fall when I came in 25. So when I got my hand to be fine, took my commitment to be on the path of my destiny and understand myself and search within myself. I immediately got my children, their hand to be far also. And, um, and we can talk more about what that means and how that works and all the things, but what it gave me as a parent was so much confirmation about what I was doing with my kids and why I was doing it. So I was doing things intuitively for my children, and then they get what's called a detox or a detonation in reading, and everything was confirmed for me about what they needed and why they needed it, and that they were each individual souls on their own path. Speaker 0 00:11:04 Um, but another thing you'll hear me say what I love about Yvonne, but what I love about it is that, um, it's, um, it's an individual path, right with that you do in community because each person gets their own ODU, or it's a pattern. Uh, that's a portal that gives you information about yourself. Um, in many ways we do assessments with ourselves and we look into look, um, look into different categories of things, to understand ourselves better through detonation. And this designation that I got from my children was so powerful because one, it confirmed what I knew about them and what I was doing. And then it gave me a lot of information that I use to raise individually on their individual paths. Um, and so that's been super powerful for me. And I always wanted to share, um, an understanding of spirituality with children. Speaker 0 00:12:10 But what is happening for me is that I'm learning so much from the children. They're having spiritual experiences. My children were having spiritual experiences, and I didn't have a cosmology at that time to understand it before you thought I was having spiritual experiences, a lot of spiritual experiences as a kid, but there was no one to talk to me about what that meant. So for example, my son went through a period where he kept hearing me call his name. And so he'd be upstairs. I'd be downstairs. And he'd yell down, says, yeah, mom. And I would say, I didn't call you. And he would say, mom, somebody's calling my name. I keep hearing somebody calling my name. And I knew to tell him, the ancestors are calling your name. It's your ancestors calling for you, right? Or he went through a period where he would see something out the side of his eye. Speaker 0 00:13:06 And it was scary. You would be like, mom, I keep seeing like a flash out the side of my eye. And I would say, it's your seat. You're beginning to see spirits, sweetie. And once he knew what it was, he didn't have to be afraid, right. He could say, oh, and what we have found in working with children weekly is if I say, okay, everybody who hears their name call, put your finger in your notes. Everybody puts their finger on the notes. Everybody who has seen something out of the flesh of their eye, raise your hand. Everybody raised their hand, everybody, anybody who has seen an aura around the bond, you know, put two hands up that two hands go up. I mean, they're having spiritual experiences and what's beautiful is to give them a community of other kids so that it's not weird. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:13:53 And put a name to it so that they can, they can articulate what it is like. So for me, what I'm hearing is this for about, for a parent, um, is, is powerful because it gives you the language and the, the, the, the, the BA to be able to speak to an N and connect with your children. So I can only imagine how powerful it must be for the child. Um, what talk more, if you can, about more of the benefits that you've seen for the children besides, so you, as a parent, it gives you a roadmap as a parent, it gives you, you know, the, the frameworks be able to talk to your kids as a parent. It gives you the ability to affirm, you know, that their experiences are real and give them a voice to be able to, to talk about it. Speaker 0 00:14:37 What, uh, the children that you work with, but maybe not your kids. They were a little bit older when it started, but the ones you work with two, every two weeks in the school for the children for EFI, what are you noticing about how it's benefiting them? What are they getting from being able to meet in this community while figuring out their individual journeys? How was it benefiting them? So we give them number one, a lot of tools, right? And so we have, um, a little girl who's five years old that we work with. And she, um, she has told us that when she comes to for kids on Sunday, she has a better week because she's learned how to calm her Ori. So you will raise your consciousness, right? It's what connects you to, to God, it it's with you everywhere you go. And we do a lot to calm our Ori, to meditate, to quiet the mind. Speaker 0 00:15:42 And so she was kind of having like tantrums kind of at school. And this gave her a way to settle herself down. She says, now I just take a little cool water, a little only two, two, and I just put it on my worry and it just settles my worry down. Or I know to take my breasts. I take my five breaths. I sit quiet and I calm myself. I tell you the, one of the grades I taught for a very long time. And I avoided kindergarten like the plague. I love to go in and visit kindergarten. I love the hugs. They give you when you're in it. But kindergartners, I avoided kindergarten. And first grade actually, because they do not know how to self-regulate. And so when they get overwhelmed, when they get overstimulated, try, you cannot reason with the five-year-old. You cannot reason with a six year old seven, when they're about second grade or higher, you can begin to have rational conversations. Speaker 0 00:16:42 I avoided kindergarten for that reason because they do not. You can't, you can't, there is no calming them down. It is. It can be very, very frustrating. So to hear you say that this five-year-old has figured out tools within herself to be able to calm herself. I am floored. Um, you know, yeah, because we work on this, we work on site on mindful self-regulation every week. Okay. We open with talking about how are we feeling? We're giving words and vocabulary to boost their emotional intelligence every week. And we do the same thing, the same way to open up our circle every week so that they begin to have a spiritual discipline. You learn spiritual discipline by doing it right? So we start the same way. Every time we greet out or read, we give libation to the ancestors. We give honor to those who come before us, right? Speaker 0 00:17:40 We say are only two twos. May our road be cool? May our head be cool? May we cast away confusion? And our life, we do this every time at the end of our surplus, at the end of our session, we close our circle with what have you learned? What are you taking with you so that they're integrating what they are learning. Right? And what we're finding is what the children give to each other is so powerful. They're saying, I know how you feel, or when this happened to me, this is what I did. You guys are developing empathy. Yes, yes. Empathy, compassion. Right? And we call it , we're always working on character development. How do we wait? How do we develop patience? How do we develop humility? What does it mean to be respectful? How do we show respect? Right. And our whole premise is to do it in a developmentally appropriate strength based child centered fun way. Speaker 0 00:18:58 I love that. That one more time. I think that those are, that was, that was perfectly said. Say that again. So we're always working to do this in a strength-based way. That's developmentally appropriate. That's child centered and fun, fun. And it's, it's fun because nobody wants to do things that are not fun. Kids want to have fun, right? They want to have fun and they want to be able to participate fully. So what we've learned is that once we teach them, once we taught them the basic building of circle, the basic opening of the circle. Now they, they open the circle. Somebody does the OMI, tutus, somebody does libation. Somebody asks everyone how they're feeling today. Somebody does the closing. What did you learn today? The children all do that. And we work with children from four to 17. So it's kind of a one room, school house concept. Speaker 0 00:20:03 We have, five-year-olds working with 17 year olds, right? Because we're a community. Now, there are times when we're working with content and we may break into groups. So that for difficult concepts, we can be developmentally appropriate for the younger children and go deeper, um, for the older children. But we always start together and we always end together because we're a community. So I think one of the things that he gives to children is a sense of community, right? That's what I was looking for. All my spiritual journey. I wanted a spiritual system that reflected me. I wanted to look at it and not have to code switch. Yes. Not had not, no code switching. Right. I didn't want to have to. Um, in my mind changed the way the images looked when you're dealing with the fog tradition is black people hearing me, you know, God looks black, the Arisha looks black. Speaker 0 00:21:11 And it's about understanding nature, understanding everything around us is giving us information. That we're a part of the whole literally. Um, I think the other thing that he gives to children that's particular to our cosmology is there's we don't have sin. So you're not born in sin. That's not a concept for us. There is, there's no salvation nobody's coming to save you. Nobody gave up so that you don't have to do it. I was, I was the, I was so glad you said that, because that was one of the things that I had spoken. Um, I was going to ask you, I had spoken with Jimmy about that and the, and the idea that we teach our right now, we teach our children that, um, had he, the we're waiting for someone to give us permission to live our best life. We're waiting for it to, you know, to go through, to be practice, patience and faith, to be able to be given, um, what we need to be able to be successful. And one of the things that really intrigued me was the idea that no, that is all within you. Like that is all, all of that power, all of that, um, that knowledge, all of that, that is all within you. And it's always within your grasp. So yes. Please continue to talk more about that for me. Speaker 0 00:22:30 So we are taught about consequence, right? Our actions have a reaction, um, but we're not. So you have to take personal responsibility for your behavior. And it's, it's about you have, you're empowered to change things, right? So we believe the day you're born and the day you die is set, but everything else can be maneuvered. If you know how to maneuver, it can be changed if you need to change it through, um, through sacrifice and through offering and through changing behavior and through Devin nation. Right? So we have so many tools and we're teaching our children those tools from the very start, right? And so we're giving them empowerment and saying that this is yours, this belongs to people of African descent. For me, one of the things that finally took me all the way, um, out of Amy kind of church was I just got to the point where I was like, for me personally, I know that Christianity was used by, by enslavers to enslave. Speaker 0 00:24:03 So why am I expecting my in slaver to give me a God that would free me? It doesn't make, it doesn't really work that way. Right. And so I just could want it something very culturally relevant. And so I feel like that is also, um, a beautiful part of ephah that it is African centered. Yes. Now in our eval, they we're very aware that we're Africans in America. And so the black experience, the black American experience is highlighted, but it's always, we have a direct lineage to Africa, right? So it's not, it's very, we talking to children very early. This is where Africa is. We have people there, we have family there. We have a last name that comes from there. We know where the village is. We have been there, we have elders there. So we give children like roots, right? Because oftentimes for children, African American children will say, where are you from? Speaker 0 00:25:20 Well, New Jersey. No, no, no. Where are you from? Well, my, my people were in the south before they came to New Jersey. So North Carolina, no, no, no, no. And so it's very empowering to have an African centered spiritual practice. So I love that. I love that, you know, that, that, that gives them definitely a sense of self, definitely a sense of affirmation. Um, everything that we do, uh, just like me, um, you know, the curriculum that I create, um, you know, the, our, our reading curriculum, our, um, our social studies curriculum, all those things are created with the goal. One of the goals being not just to teach math, not just to teach social studies, but to also self affirm and, and, and build and empower and, and make, and have them see reflections of themselves. What does it look like in everyday practice? So after class is over and they garnered these great lessons, and they've learned all of this, this awesome information, and we've taught them how to self-regulate and we've poured into them and let them see, um, you know, what, um, at what, bigger out and empower themselves and figure out what, how they should move in life. Speaker 0 00:26:34 What does it look like in everyday practice? Like, as they move forward after they leave your class, that's a great question. So something doesn't have utility then what is it for? Right. If it doesn't help us be self efficacious then. So what, right. And so there are so many examples of how we use the fi every day, when we wake up in the morning, we grab our Ori and we pray well for our feet, touch the ground. We are connecting with that, which connects us to , which is our word for God or the creator, right. Kids know the, or resewn at four years old, I have four year olds that know the or reason and do it. When they wake up in the morning, they connect with themselves. The first thing they do in the morning is pray how powerful they set their intention for the day, right. Speaker 0 00:27:31 Upon waking, that's powerful, that's powerful. Right. And then if I can be used all through the day, so when we eat, we set aside food for our ancestors. So there is respect that's happening whenever you eat, you're giving of what you have to, those who have come before you. Right? So just even a little bike. I started with my kids when they eat something, everybody put a fry, you know, on the ancestor, play a PC burger, you know, give to the ancestors. Right? So you're remembering where you came from, who sacrifice for you, who was born. So you could be born add that as a natural part of the day as a natural part of that. I love that. I love like you, you actually were a part of the day you're building in self-awareness, you're building in self care. You're building in empathy. You're building in reflection all throughout the every day. Speaker 0 00:28:26 I absolutely love natural part of the day. I go ahead. I'm sorry. So when you're moving in your day, the day is talking to you and we teach children early to understand signs and symbols, right? So it may be that you're going on the school bus and you see a Hawk out the window. Do you look out? And you're like, Ooh, that's a big bird. That's a Hawk. Or, Ooh, there was a vulture on the side of the road. That's a message. Kids begin to know. What does it mean when you see a vulture? What does it mean when you see a Hawk? Right. When my children, just this weekend, my son went, uh, went out, um, to a party, oh, at a long distance, like when, how with his friends. And he knew to take 21 cents with him two times and a penny. And when he crossed that crossroad to get on that highway, he knows I'm a pray. Speaker 0 00:29:30 And I'm going to give to SU I'm going to give to the crossroads for my safe travel, just as a natural part of what he's doing. yeah. Right. So there's so many things that incorporate prayer throughout the day that incorporate giving back and remembering throughout the day that we just naturally do. And it's so easy to teach children. Awesome. I love every part about that. I'm sure that there are parents right now who are listening, who like me, which is why we had the second conversation. Um, we're, we're wanting to learn more. Are there any tips or resources that you can recommend or share for parents to check out for those who are interested in learning more about, um, the African spiritual system of EFI and how it can possibly benefit them and their children? Sure, sure. So the first one is EFI for Speaker 0 00:30:26 So we'll be launching our website and, uh, it is for I S a F O R E K I D If I, for and we will have resources there we'll have, um, information about what is an Orisha, what does he find? You know, um, what are resources that you can, um, use? I love to take resources that already exist and talk about what does that mean? Any fun? Right. So I love Disney movies and Disney movies are so like tie to we fall all the time. There's they have messages in them, you know, so many of them talk about ancestors in particular, a lot of them talk about, and then I love using books, right? And so for bigger kids, this is one of my favorite African MIS. Um, this is really popular with, um, boys who like comic strips because it's comics. Speaker 0 00:31:31 Um, and it's called African missed by, uh, Gary Jeffrey. Um, there are really great books out right now about ephah oceans. Mirrors is a new book that's out, um, that you can get right on Amazon. If you put in evolve books for kids in Amazon, they'll come up, or if you could, or Resha O R I S H a or Resha, uh, for kids into the, um, into your Google search stuff is going to come up now, which is awesome. What I recommend is when you're learning about, um, African spirituality, that you do it through a lineage that you do it with an elder, because there's a lot of conflicting information and that's because it's a very localized practice. So what, how my lineage does it is different from how another lineage does it, how, what the village that I come from does it is different than the village nearby. Speaker 0 00:32:33 And so sometimes for us as Americans, that's confusing and you'll say, well, how am I supposed to know which one is right, right. Well, they're due to, to the people that are saying it. Um, and there's a lot of, um, there's a lot of, um, it seems conflicting, but it's not. It's just like, if I go to New York, I'm going to say soda, but if you go out west, you're going to say pop, right. If I go to Pennsylvania, I might say a hoagie. But if I'm in New York, I say a sub is both a sandwich that has meat in it with cheese. Right. Speaker 0 00:33:14 Right. It's really the same thing. But if you go to Pittsburgh, your hoagies going to look real different than if you go to long island, New York. Correct. Right. Cause it's different regionally. It's the same with different regions. Um, so sometimes that can be confusing. So I would say it's really important to find a reputable elder to work with. Awesome. All right. Well, we're going to have, uh, links to all of this information in the show notes. Um, and I'm sure people can reach out directly to me if I have any questions, do you have, uh, the I'm assuming the ethos for kids is where they can reach out directly to you. Yes. So I have an email [email protected] is my, uh, that's an email that will get to me directly [email protected]. Awesome. I want to thank you so much. She'd a way that this was, this was, this was informational. Speaker 0 00:34:12 This was, um, it showed a lot of light. I I'm loving what I'm learning. And I think that a lot of people are gonna get a lot from this conversation. So thank you so much for, for coming today and telling us all of this great information. Thank you so much. I hope you'll have me again. That was so fast. I want to talk for like two hours. There's so much to learn. Yeah, definitely. We will definitely have to have you come back. Thank you so much for your time. Community cultural reflection and representation, personal responsibility, empowerment, and self-regulation wow. Those are all things that I know I want for my children. What about you? I want to thank my guests chief, a way again for stopping by to speak with us and thank you for listening. Show notes and resources to the things we discussed are available on our website at www just like me,, share this podcast with other parents and educators in your circle and be sure to subscribe. So you never miss an episode. If you liked what you heard, leave us a review reviews, help others discover our show and help them begin their journey. Have a great week. And remember if our children can see it, they can achieve it.

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