Nya Akoma is the greeting on Black Love Day. It is pronounced N-yah
Ah-coma". It means "get a heart, be patient". The Akoma is an ancient African symbol. It is NOT a Valentine.
The history of Valentine's day includes the the co-opting of this symbol to represent romance.
For the true confusing history of Valentine's Day, read The Black Love Book - an anthology on Love and Guide to the wholyday - Feb. 13th - Black Love Day".
The Black Love Book 3rd Ed (E-Book) by Ayo Handy-Kendi
by Ayo Handy Kendi
NOTE: Original essay was written in 1995. Ironic, here in 2019, as much as things have changed, they still remain.
In the climate in which many were working on the destructiveness of Black on Black
crime and the sad reality that Black youth had a 1 in 4 chance of being killed or
incarcerated before age 21, Black Love Day was born. During a time in humanity in
which many people were struggling with spirituality and inter-personal issues of identity
and roles, prompting many relationships and marriages to fall apart, Black Love Day
was born. At a period in history, in which the fast pace of American life produced high
levels of stress and achievement pressure, causing many to struggle with substance
abuse, food, sex, gambling or some other addiction just to cope, Black Love Day was
born. At a time in the world in which “intimacy” diseases were taking out people in large
numbers in their early 20.s and 30.s, Black Love Day was born.
Within this critical time period, where many adults didn.t know if they.d have a job
from week to week to be able to take care of their families; with poverty rampant in a
land of plenty, with a widening gap growing between the haves. and have-nots, Black
Love Day was born. In a frightening period of time, in which we read of children being
abused by adults in frightening ways; where alienated, White youth were killing their
classmates, committing suicide at alarming rates, and carrying out racial hate crimes
like their parents, Black Love Day was born. At the dawning of the new millennium
which promised “Age of Aquarius”, humanitarian behavior, yet still faced with Klan
rallies, church burnings, continued brutal lynchings of Blacks by Whites, noose hanging
threats and news reminders of the existence of fear and racial polarization in the
Nation, Black Love Day was born .
Many of the relationship issues, today, are similar to those that were seen at the
beginning of Black Love Day ( BLD) envisioned and proclaimed in 1993 by Sister Ayo
Handy Kendi, a community organizer in Washington, D.C. She is the Founder /
director of the African American Holiday Association (AAHA), a non-profit, tax-
exempt, 501 (c)(3) membership organization. A spiritual message, from the Creator, was
given to Sister Ayo inspiring her to develop BLD. The concept has been gaining greater
acceptance each year.
Black Love Day (BLD) is a commemorative holiday or "wholyday” of observance,
celebration, reconciliation, atonement, and demonstration of love, showing at least 5
specific acts (tenets) of love – towards the Creator, for self, for the family, for the Black
community and for the Black race. Whites show “love in action” for Blacks and inspect
their own racial attitudes.
The objective of BLD is to encourage Blacks to take a day to actively raise themselves
up through Black self-love instead of self-hatred, by demonstrating love through service,
celebration, forgiveness, apology, public and private rituals of reconciliation and for
Whites to take the same day to raise themselves up, by being more reflective of their
racial attitudes of fear, guilt, denial and negative behaviors of white privilege, white
supremacy, prejudice, segregation and bigotry . BLD offers a chance to use the
transformational, spiritual power of love, as a healing tool on the day of Feb. 13.
February 13 was chosen by the founder of BLD because February is the month for
the observance of Black History Month and the number 13, in astrology and
metaphysics, is the number of spiritual transformation. As Black people put love in
action and involve themselves in the love rituals of BLD, and as Whites take personal
inventory of their attitudes and be more mindful in their demonstration of loving acts of
service and kindness towards Blacks, this will help all people grow more spiritual. As
one grows spiritually, this increases the ability to love. The return to love is a healing
force and can be used as a tool to address many of the destructive behaviors,
disrespectful attitudes, abusiveness and self-hatred which fuels much of today's family
disruption, violence, racism, crime, anger and race polarity. BLD offers just one solution
to make a difference to increase the peace and stop the violence for all people.
BLD offers a cultural and wholistic alternative to Valentine's Day whose primary
focus on romantic love between couples, is based on pagan European culture and rituals,
and encourages Blacks to be mere consumers, buying the customary Valentine tokens of
affection. Instead, BLD offers each individual or family member, every neighbor, co-
worker, or gang member; any organization, group and all citizens of the world-wide
community -- a chance to make a difference by giving of themselves, through loving acts
and by being more mindful of love for a day to actively, rejuvenate relationships.
The rituals and symbols of BLD are a synthesis of spiritual, metaphysical, African
and African America customs which aid in heightening Black cultural pride and self-
esteem. Gifts can be given if one desires to express their love, however, gifts must be
purchased only from Black merchants, in the spirit of Ujamaa (cooperative economics) to
recycle money within the Black community. It is recommended that gifts be made or
chosen to enhance the spirit, mind and body or chosen to reflect the love of African
Diaspora culture and heritage, instead of the impractical trinkets and unhealthy, sugar-
laden gifts traditionally given for Valentine's Day.
BLD gives both Black and White communities one day to rejuvenate their
relationships; a day of harmony in the Black community and a day of honesty in the
White community. Hopefully, this one day of reconciliation will feel so good in both
communities, that they will want to re-create these feelings again and again. Just
possibly, this chain reaction of love will transform the nation as never before.
We know of the heart as a symbol for Valentine.s Day. Yet, long before Europeans
used decorative, lace hearts to symbolize romance, this ancient African, Adinkra
(pronounced Ah-dink-rah) symbol was called The Akoma (pronounced Ah co mah). The
Akoma means literally “the heart” and symbolizes love, patience, goodwill, faithfulness
and endurance, with its origin traced to the Asante people of Ghana and the Gyaman
people of Cote' d'Ivoire. This symbol, as well as other Adinkra symbols, have been re-
discovered and re-popularized, in modern times, by African-Americans in search of their
stolen, African cultural legacy. Thus, the Akoma was adopted as the symbol for BLD.
The greeting on BLD is Nya Akoma (pronounced N-yah Ah-coma) which means “be
patient, get a heart”. On the day of February 13th, take 24 hours to be more mindful of
love, be patient, get a heart and return to love. In the Spirit of the Akoma,
Ayo Handy-Kendi is reknown as the Breath Sekou, which means in the Guinea language "a master teacher". She has worked with breath techniques for over 40 years and loves teaching "the power of the breath". She has created a system called Optimum Life Breathology (O.L.B.) which teaches 10 best practice breath techniques with 5 breath practices. As a Wholistic Practitioner she incorporates sound healing, laughter yoga, Aroma-therapy, Reiki, healing touch, movement, water hydrotherapy, nutrition, behavior modification and stress management into her trainings.She is creating a "breath movement" to wake people up to their joy and positivenergy with the belief that when you breathe better, you live better. She is also known as Mama Ayo, when sharing cultural presentations or performing as a storyteller, actor, author or speaker. She is the founder of Black Love Day, Feb. 13, the Ritual of Reconciliation, founder/director, African American Holiday Association (AAHA) and founder/CEO, PositivEnergyWorks.