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Maat wearing feather of truth

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 Maatic Discourse: AN OBSERVATION

[Originally posted Dec 19, 2010 8:33 PM]

Maatic discourse is important to humanity and to the African world. Scholars have studied this African truth-seeking principle and most recently (within the past two decades) have intently applied the concept to the research orientation field of Africana Studies, and it has been presented culturally as a paradigmatic moral-ethical dialogue for Africana people. Maat, as a multifaceted concept, is defined as the ancient Egyptian philosophy and observance of “the Seven Cardinal Virtues of truth, justice, propriety, harmony, balance, reciprocity and order” in the work of Maulana Karenga.[1] Karenga who has produced the most comprehensive scholarly work on the subject of Maat from the ancient texts has also advanced as an important part of the discourse, the need for Africans to “constantly dialogue with African culture.” This not only addresses the Africanization of culture, but also the direct challenges to Black development, and the amelioration of racial themes that manage and regulate society. To accomplish this, Theophile Obenga, who found the concept throughout the continent of Africa, notes at Maat, “calls upon humans as social beings to behave and speak, to think and act, to live and die, in accordance with what is true, what measures up to the optimal standard, what does not violate a just balance, to live a virtuous life as understood by the black Egyptian mind, with its commitment to hieratic, traditional, transcendent, imperative and absolute norms.”[2] For the challenges facing African people, Asante asserts that, at its most fundamental nature, Maat is “the heroic attempt to hold back chaos and to retain a sense of balance in human society.”[3] Maat is important in the discussion of black culture because it confronts the concerns about the assertion of universal truth and justice in in the Black experience; and the eternal ideal of morality and ethical laws among individuals and groups. Currently, given the new structure of open media, people can engage Maat as an honest form of public communication.  As a personal ethical concept Maat offers the highest standards of gathering goodwill.  It is a large idea, but not unwieldy. Maat offers the potential for substantive reinvention for the history-makers. People create memory and are responsible for the initiation and perpetuation of the past. Not only can we choose to live up to the standards of Maat, which are compatible across faith-based systems, the principles of Maatic discourse are also in alignment with our enduring quest to preserve and present the best of African diaspora culture.  

 Dr. Katherine Bankole-Medina

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