This week I attended the Maafa Sunday service at Amistad United Church of Christ. Amistad is a Black church in Hartford led by Bishop John Selders. (John and I have begun creating a new two-person play that explores race relations, father/son relationships, the Arab/Israeli conflict and the story of Abraham)
Maafa, derived from Kiswahili word meaning “disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy.” has been used to refer to the African Holocaust also known as the Holocaust of Enslavement. According to Wikipedia
The term collectively refers to the 500 years of suffering (including present times) of people of African heritage through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, invasions, oppression, and exploitation.
The Amistad Church commemorates Maafa every year because, as Bishop Selder’s reminded the congregation on Sunday, To forget is the same as to throw away. In speaking about the 50-100 million people stolen from Africa, he encouraged the congregation commune with ancestors, the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.
He stated we can free our hearts and spirits as we check in with the trauma of the psychotic disconnect of an unvisited past. As we confront the ghosts and demons of our pasts, we find healing. When we return to our Past, we heal ourselves.