The African Origins of the Queen Mother
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With the recent turn of events from actress Lisa Raye having been presented with a Queen Mother title during an enstoolment ceremony in a Los Angeles restaurant, there is a strong need to reaffirm the cultural validity and seriousness of the Queen Mother title and role in Africa, African American, and Caribbean culture.
Lisa Raye was offered to rule as Queen Mother over a small province in Ghana. There seemed to be a great deal of confusion over how and why she was offered the title, and if she was Queen Mother of the entire country of Ghana, as some had erroneously announced. Lisa Raye herself seemed a bit confused about what was expected of her, and about what the enstoolment ceremony would entail.
For those who are unfamiliar with African cultural practices, enstoolments are ceremonies that officially declare a person to be positioned as a regent upon his or her royal throne. It involves actually helping the person sit down upon the throne. Enstoolments do not take generally take place in restaurants - especially not in Los Angeles. Also, residents of Ghana found much amusement in the story. It is impossible to offer Queen Mother enstoolment representing their entire country, nor are they so desperate for representation that they would need to reach outside of their own if they did truly need to fill a vacated "Queen Mother of Ghana" position.
There have, unfortunately, been stories from African American women about Nigerian and Ghanaian hucksters who seek out thick-pocketed Sistas who are touristing their way through the Motherland, and preyed upon at hotels, or on tourist stops, given offers to be enstooled as Queen Mothers, or initiated as priestesses. It's a fast buck. For African Americans who suffer from melanin-security-complex, or are desperate to reclaim their stolen legacy, or who need to prove they are Blacker-Than-Thou, they take the bait. They're usually naive, not as culturally savvy, are new to Black consciousness, or are hoping that nobody will ask too many questions about how they got the title. Why? Because Sistas who are familiar with the Queen Mother history is, and what the title really entails aren't going for that okie doke.
Contemporary society is familiar with the term, "Queen Mother" because of the Royal Family of the United Kingdom. Historically, the tradition and title of Queen Mother originated in ancient Khamet (Egypt), when Black Africans ruled. In Khametic language, Queen Mother is Mwt Nswt. Traditionally in ancient Khamet (Egypt), the all powerful Queen Mother appointed the king, ruled beside him, and had a strong interest youth empowerment and community activism. Succinctly, the African Queen Mother is the Positive Pot Stirrer; the Keeper of the Culture, the Spiritual Warrior; the Nurturing Navigator to the Community's Future.
Nubian born and famously known Queen Tiye was the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Amenhotep IV (later known as Akenhaton), and mother-in-law of the also famously known Nefertiti. She was also the grandmother to King Tutankhamun. Queen Tiye was a Queen Mother who held influence over Khamet for a fifty year reign. She served as First Lady and the first female Secretary of State (long before Hillary Rodham Clinton) when her husband became physically and mentally incapacitated due to age, and when her son became known as a traitor to his people for employing monotheism, and the people ignored his authority. By the way, Queen Tiye was also influential as a fashionista! And she had the devotion of her husband, who created great outdoor shrines to his beloved.
Other African cultures honor the Queen Mother tradition. The role has never been a dowager position, nor taken lightly. Queen Mothers have always been shown great respect from their communities because of their wisdom, power, devotion to their people, and the serious conviction and dignity with which they dedicate their roles as community role models, healers, and activists.
In the U.S., Queen Mother Moore (1898-1996) was a modern day freedom fighter. Inspired by the Marcus Garvey United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Movement as a young woman, Queen Mother Audley Moore became a force to be reckoned with in Harlem, NYC, fearlessly speaking out for reparations, and all noteworthy civil rights causes for Black people. She also served as President-General of the World Federation of African People, and as President and founder of the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women and the founder of the Committee for Reparations for Descendants of U.S. Slaves.
After Queen Mother Moore made her transition, her faithful aide, Queen Mother Delois Blakely, filled her role, taking it to a new height, now serving as Community Mayor of Harlem. She is highly regarded as a Stateswoman and Educator across Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S., and works tirelessly with the United Nations.
A longtime devoted community activist and educator, Elder High Priestess Queen Mother Imakhu Mu Nefer-t was initiated into the Nubian Handmaiden's lineage in 2003, and as a Queen Mother in 2005 in through the Shrine of Khpra of Brooklyn, NY. Her last initiation was into the Bantu/Khametic water spiritual tradition in 2006. Queen Mother Imakhu heads her own global Khametic ministry, and privately coaches and counsels people. She coined the term, "Khametic Life Coach." Her contributions to the reclamation of Khametic art and culture include the Tep Ra Renu Oracle (where European Runes came from), research which produced the articles, "The Kemetic Origin of the Word 'Witch' " and "The African Origins of Global Fae Traditions." She has also created a wholly comprehensive, extensive Khametic Yoga program. As an ordained minister, she counsels many in urban neighborhoods. After hearing the voices of so many in her travels, Queen Mother has created outreach programming to address the needs of the multigenerational populations who have sought her help. She set up Internet classes teaching women and families the principles of education, community involvement, and family unity. Author, poet, storyteller, musician, and vocalist. Queen Mother Imakhu started Shenu Art & Yoga Sanctuary, devoted to teaching African Khametic culture through art, and addressing the health, physical, and financial needs of artists.
General Khametic Protocol Questions for Addressing an African Queen Mother
Is it alright or appropriate to call a Queen Mother by her first name if I don't feel like calling her by her title? If it is not my belief system or culture, then why should I honor the title?
No. Would you call the Queen Mother of England by her first name? Some people seem to think that a Queen Mother of African descent does not deserve the same respect. The Queen Mother system began in Africa. Also consider this: Would you call the Pope by his name just because you are not Catholic? Would Bishop Desmond Tutu just be Desmond to you? Would Mother Theresa just have been Theresa? Respect the title. Allow your mind to make the adjustment. The effects of slavery have diminished the power of the Motherland as the Cradle of Civilization in the minds of many. This is a time of healing and reclamation for us all.
Is it appropriate to call a Queen Mother, "Sweetie, Hon, Dear," or "Darling" as casual terms of endearment?
No. Highly inappropriate. Refer to the above response. Can a person declare herself to be a Queen Mother? No. It is an appointed or initiation title conferred in an official ceremony. It is not the same as the popular trend that many Black women have followed in calling themselves, "Queen," which started to reaffirm self respect and dignity.
How should the community regard the Queen Mother?
Queen Mothers are generally held in high regard. As such, the community should protective of her, and her well being. She is the Mother of the community; the wisdom keeper who has the welfare of the community at heart. Today's U.S. society, however, having lost touch with its African history, is not educated about the role of the Queen Mother. The Queen Mother within today's African Traditional Spiritual Societies is generally recognized and given her proper due. Unfortunately, some of our contemporary U.S. Queen Mothers have had to fend for themselves after a lifetime of community service, struggling alone financially, in public housing, yet paraded out during local African-centered ceremonies as status symbols, then quickly shuttled back home. This reflects the lingering affects of Western influence upon the African mind, in terms of forgetting to care for community Elders, Sages, and Queen Mothers. Also, many people in Black Consciousness circles simply are not aware of these protocols. It is imperative to pass this education on to the youth, for whom the Queen Mother has always had a protective interest.It is time for the community to reciprocate to ALL the activist Queen Mothers who are warriors, spiritual Keepers of the Culture, putting themselves on the line for the healing of their people.