Excerpt on Age-Grades in Africa and the African Blood Siblings

Listen Siblings, I come in peace,

“The age-grade or age-set (also called “class”) was the specific organizational structure through which the society functioned.” — Dr. Chancellor Williams

The ABS has its own age-grade system:

a – 6-12, Children
b – 13- 19, Teenagers
c – 20-28, Young Adults
d – 29-40, Adults
e – 40+, Elders

(From “The Units of Organization“)

You belong to an age-grade. In age-grade “a,” as Dr. Chancellor Williams has written (see below), it’s important to instill that all Africans are your Siblings. Today, we do not go through this socialization. But the day comes when all of our people will remember this. For we will to restore our grandeur as Siblings in the outfit of the African Blood Siblings.

I thank you for sharing this newsletter.

Below is an excerpt from “Destruction of Black Civilization” by Dr. Chancellor Williams. It describes the separate communal responsibilities accorded each age-grade. We will once again practice such socialization. But to get there please record your age-grade and look to gain the contact of 20 people in your sex within your age-grade. Advise them to read and subscribe to ABS and advise them to join you in being active in making your local economic center a Prosperous, Independent African Community.

Get the 20 contacts from your local thoroughfare. Do not turn away anyone based on supposed ‘consciousness,’ for all of us want to be free, we are all Siblings and we work so that all of us live in Prosperous, Independent African Communities. With the 20 I can interview each. We’ll whittle the team to 13, a Unit of Organization. From there, we will build. Please apply to the African Blood Siblings when you start or write us. We will connect Prosperous, Independent African Communities from Lagos to Los Angelas, from Johannesburg to London, from New York to where you are. We will be Prosperous, Independent Proud-to-be Africans.  Subscribe, share, love.

Here is the Excerpt from Chapter VI The African Constitution: Birth of Democracy
in “The Destruction of Black Civilizations”
by Dr. Chancellor Williams

Origin of African Democracy

The foregoing observations suggest that the Constitution of any people or nation, written or unwritten, derives from its customary rules of life; and that what we now call “democracy” was generally the earliest system among various peoples throughout the ancient world. What was a relatively new development was absolute monarchy.

. . .

The age-grade or age-set (also called “class”) was the specific organizational structure through which the society functioned.

Classification was determined by the period in which one was born. All persons born in the same year, or within a general but well-defined period before or after a given year, belonged in the same age-grade. Each grade covered a block of years: Age-grade one might include all children up to age twelve; grade two, from thirteen to eighteen; grade three, nineteen to twenty-eight; grade four, twenty-nine to forty; and grade five, forty and above. There was seniority within each grade according to age and intelligence. Intelligence and wisdom were supposed to match one’s age. Stated another way, the African philosophy that accorded so much deference to elders was based upon the assumption that, all other things being equal, those who were living in the world and experiencing life before others were born should know more than these others. This qualification is important because it was later applied in the election of chiefs and kings. Being an heir to the throne was not enough. One had to meet other qualifications or be passed over. Therefore, being older or the oldest in one’s group did not command the usual respect if one was lazy, a trouble-maker, or a fool.

Early Education

The interlocking responsibilities of the various grades accounted for the smooth functioning of the chiefless states. Each grade had its own social, economic and political role. The children’s set covered the years of game and play. Around the ages of six and seven, however, general training and some little jobs began to be mingled with play. Primary education included story-telling, mental arithmetic, community songs and dances, learning the names of various birds and animals, the identification of poisonous snakes, local plants and trees, and how to run and climb swiftly when pursued by dangerous animals. Child training also included knowing and associating with members of one’s age-group as brothers and sisters, and to regard them as brothers and sisters until death and beyond. Little chores around the house became routine, such as gathering sticks of wood for fuel, bringing water, tending the cattle, feeding the chickens or, if a girl, looking after baby or younger ones, imitating mother at cooking and trying to learn how to sew and knit. The nearest thing to the boys’ political role in childhood was when he carried his father’s or uncle’s stool to village council meetings and listened to the interminable debates.

The next grade above childhood was teenage through age eighteen. (These periods, of course, varied in different societies). Now both training and responsibilities were stepped-up. Play time was either over or very much limned. Education and training became more complex and extensive. Upon their performance at this age level the youths’ entire future depended. He or she was marked for success or failure in this second age-set that began at age 13. The boy was now required to learn his extended family history and that of his society, the geography of the region, names of neighboring states and the nature of the relations with them, the handling of weapons, hunting as a skilled art, rapid calculation, clearing the bush for planting, the nature of soils and which kinds grew what best, military tactics, care and breeding of cattle, the division of labor between males and females, bartering tactics, rules of good manners at home and abroad, competitive sports, leadership examples for the childhood age group below and responsibilities to the age-group above. The apprenticeship system in which one became a skilled craftsman was one of the most important of the Second level age-set activities. This is another reason why this age-grade was the most crucial of all. At its end one went through the initiation rites for the exalted level of manhood. The girls age-grade periods differed from those of the boys. Introduction to womanhood, roles, for example, was earlier. They had the same intellectual training as the boys: history, geography, rapid calculation, poetry, music and dance. The training in child care, housekeeping, gardening, cooking, marketing, social relations with particular stress on good manners—these were some of the essentials in the age-grade education and training of young people at this level. Housekeeping, mentioned above, does not reveal the important kind Of training that came under that heading, for its most important training aim was “how to be a successful wife”— an everlastingly desirable wife. In many societies, this training, by older women away from the community, included the art of exciting sexual intercourse, position variations, cleanliness in the relationship and, in short, the do’s and don’t’s in intimate relations. These early Black societies were in many ways far in advance of the modern.

The first two grades may be designated as A and B, the third as C, the fourth as D, and the final and highest as grade E. Grade C, ages 19 through 28, was the manhood and first-line-of-action group. Its members led in the hunting, community construction, preparing the fields for planting, forming the various industrial craft guilds (secret societies, each of which guarded the processes of its art), protecting the far-ranging grazing cattle, the upkeep of roads and paths between villages, policing areas when necessary, and forming the bulwark of the fighting force. The young women in grade C, were generally wives. They were responsible for the planting and care of the farms (the heavy work of bush clearing, etc., having been done by the men), the operations of the markets (hence the stress on mental arithmetic in their training), visiting and care of the sick and the aged, formation of women’s societies (the media for womens social, economic and indirect but very real political influence), and they were responsible for and in supreme control of all matters concerning the home. In those societies that had female fighting forces, the women’s armies were formed almost entirely form age-grade C.

In terms of constitutional rights and duties (the two were inseparable in early Africa), there was not much difference between age-group C and age-group D. Seniority was the significant difference, since D was from age 29 to 40. If otherwise qualified, members in this class upon reaching the age of 36 were eligible for election to the most highly honored body in the society, the Council of Elders—an honor and privilege specially reserved for those 40 years old and above, group E.

Read the whole of Chapter VI here: http://www.farcaribbean.org/index.php/2-uncategorised/2-the-african-constitution-birth-of-democracy

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3 thoughts on “Excerpt on Age-Grades in Africa and the African Blood Siblings

  1. Onitaset,Hotep! I’m so happy to be on your blogspot. Thank you for the video. I greatly appreciate your help. Maybe you can help better understand your culture and people. I want to learn about African culture and embrace our ancestors. Even though I’m American I still think American Black people and African Black peopleshould try to get along. As I stated I’ve had some negative experiences encountering African people in the past. rude taxi drivers, the hair braiders at the braiding salon, The Nigerian brother who Ireally liked alot. He had a gathering at his home. I was present I was trying to be congenial with everyone they were speaking in their native language and the men would’nt talk to me. The women were rude to me as well. when ever we went out he always said I needed to walk behind him. This really made me upset. Is this a custom? In social gatherings are women supposed to remain quiet and not talk to the men. I noticed the women were in a different area of the house. Onitaset help me understand>I understand their are different African countries with different dialects and customs. My Nigerian friend never wanted to share about the customs of African people. I will not judge a whole culture of people by the actions of these negative people I encountered. As a matter of fact on my job I have conversation with a really cool guy from Ghana at my job. This gives me hope that I want diversity in my social life. I want to know all people of different ethnicities. Thank youv for sharing Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop. Senagal seems really cool they speak beautiful french and look like beautiful black people.

    1. Sister mary burrell,

      I am very happy to hear from you. Your question is worthwhile and I emailed you.

      But to answer you, we are all African people. And we have common customs from days gone by: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/excerpts-pertaining-to-cultural-continuity-on-the-continent/

      Yet, what you refer to is Patriarchy and that’s an import from European people: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/diops-two-cradle-theory/

      In essence, however, it’s worth understanding that Africa was colonized in the 19th century. Therefore the “Sexism” you saw was a result of that early colonization sans the anti-sexist movements. So to say, it’s to be expected that a colonized people will take on the mores of their colonizers. However, it can not be expected that when the colonizer independently changes, the colonized change too.

      For instance, the housing arrangement you refer to is known as accommodating a Gynaeceum. This is a housing style of Europe from Ancient times.

      What’s important for us to understand is that the advancement of women comes as a result of the advancement of African thought. This I shall unveil on the 17th.

      But I want to advance to you that we’re not an “American” people; and the belief therein is “culturally oppressive” on us: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/dialogue-three-of-five-on-race-cultural-oppression-defined/

      Instead, we are an African people in America and we are globally in trouble.

      In essence, Sister, African people have an ideological core different from European people. The descriptions can be seen here: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/navigate/abs/lore/races/

      By the by, it’s from this recognition of an ideological core that you can connect with Africans all over the globe. The problem is that beyond the ABS, few understand this core, ergo few understand ‘race’ and this world. So I propagate truth at great personal cost for the sake of our entire race.

      Thank you for writing. If you prefer email, we can go there,

      Oh, but a great reading for you would be:
      https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/notes-on-marimba-anis-yurugu-lecture/

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