The Africana Institute of Essex County College, Newark, New Jersey, United States of America (USA) hosted the 5th Annual African Spirituality Conference on Saturday, April 1, 2023 with experts from different parts of the world participating in person or virtually.
The unique Conference focused on Mental Health, Healthy Bodies and Spiritual Wellbeing and featured Mary Brown, a Grammy Nominated Singer/Songwriter and Inspirational Speaker; Chief Aree Ago Ifakunle Adetutu, a Traditional African Orisa Practitioner, Professional Babalawo and Head of Egbe Parapo; Rev. Queen Mother Imakhu, an Artist, Activist, Motivational Speaker, Yoga Instructor and Spiritual Leader/Kemetic Priestess; Mrs. Nomsa Hawker, a Nurse and Sangoma/Diviner who presented from South Africa, and Luiz Fernando Martins da Silva, a Lawyer and Retired Professor of Law who spoke from Brazil.
Also featured were Dr. Rosalind Jeffries, an over 85-year-old renowned Professor and Art Historian; His Majesty Prince-Dah Tovomadjehoungi Dako Donou, Dr. Denis Atchade Assongba from Benin Republic; Rev. Dr. Elemi Gayle, a Renowned Spiritual Advisor, Diviner, Intuitive Healer; Sonjedi Ankh Ra, a Kemetic Scribe, and Bishop Pernell, the Senior Pastor and Founder of Bet HaShem YHWH Episkopos Worldwide Ministries.
Sia Khalfani, a Worksite Wellness Specialist, Yoga Instructor and Holistic Health Consultant also featured at intersessions to put participants onsite and online through some very well received and impactful wellness programs.
Chief Adetutu spoke on “Breath and Energy in African Spirituality”; Rev. Queen Mother Imakhu dwelt on “African-Khametic Approach to Healing from Trauma,” while Mrs. Hawker’s presentation from South Africa was on “Healing: From Nursing to African Spirituality.”
da Silva spoke on “Paths to Health, Mental and Spiritual Well-Being in Brazil: The Fight Against Religious Racism Committed Against Religions of African Origin in Brazil,” Dr. Jeffries lectured on “Kongo Connections” while the world acclaimed singer and songwriter, Mary Brown sang and spoke on “Music and the Voice as Healing Instruments.”
Dr. Assongba reflected on “African Spirituality in Benin,” Rev. Dr. Gayle spoke on the “Benefits of Spiritual Wellness on Your Life” with practical exercises, while Ra expounded on “Cyclical Restorations as an African Cultural Basis” and Bishop Pernell spoke passionately on “There’s a War Against Black History.”
Robert Taylor, Attorney at Law and major Art Patron, stirred the Conference with the well-received presentation of an Artwork, a Dogan door panel, to the Africana Institute, after briefly recalling the history of his family’s ties with Essex College.
The host of the Conference, Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani, the Director of the Africana Institute & Center for Global Education and Experiences, who welcome the participants, explained that the objective of Conference was to ” discover the continuing role the Spirit has played in the survival and thriving of African People around the world.”
He said that the Conference was out to find answers to how Africans as a People survived and are still surviving “colonialism, enslavement, torture, humiliation, rape, pillage, degradation, murder, discrimination, lynching, and all other sorts of unthinkable crimes against humanity.” He said the discussions were meant to “find solutions to the healing of the mind, body and spirit through African Spirituality.”
Besides the resource persons and the onsite participants, the Conference also attracted attendance online from different parts of the world.
Pictures here show some of the personalities that graced the program.