PART I: WHEN JOHN MET AYO.
I.m. not sure when we met or where we met, but, seems like John and I were a natural fit. John Davies 3 and me, Ayo Handy-Kendi, married in 2003 but we had been together since 1999. John is my 4th husband and I am is 2nd wife. We had a lot in common - both native Washingtonians, only 4 months apart in age, who grew up in D.C. when it was truly "chocolate city".. John went to the high school in N.W that was the rival to my high school in S.E., and our backgrounds were similar - we both grew up in 2 parent households, in which there was an entrepreneur parent present, and in both households, our parents really believed in spirituality, education and human rights for all, especially, Black people.
We both married quite early, right out of high school and at the time, I met John, we were married to someone else.. I remember seeing John at the "Community Warehouse", the local, hang-out, where you could get wholesome soup; your bulk organic vegetables, spices, herbs and other types of "herbs". At the "Warehouse", a tight-knit community bonded around the anti-war, civil rights music and slogans of the times, and this would be the foundation of D.C.'s "cultural community".
John was the tall, quiet, kinda "geeky" guy, who always looked stoned, rocking as he talked, with eyes filled with mischief like a "big boy" up to something.playful. I remembered I liked that he laughed easily. However, because he was so quiet and unassuming, I really paid little attention to this "really nice guy" and didn't connect.. But, I would continue to see him for the next several years, always in a position of helping me accomplish something, like a guardian Angel appearing just in time, when I needed him. .Then one day, a good girl-friend suggested that the guy she was dating was too "spiritual" for her, but would be just right for me". She described him, but I could think of no one who met her description. She said that she would introduce us and that his name was "John".
At that time, I was going through a horrible, abusive, tormenting marriage to husband #3. This brother's trauma was being played out in domestic violence and anger toward me, as we struggled for 6 years with his raging crack-cocaine addiction, and unwillingness to face his childhood abuse. After being dragged in the streets, and chocked, I could take it no longer. (This story is in my Black Love Book, too painful to repeat here). I bought that man a one-way ticket back to his home-state in Florida and sent him back to "face his demons".
Shortly after he left D.C., on a super bright day, I went to my local health food store, and there was this guy, that I seemed like I keep running into just when i needed support. He asked me why was I "beaming" and I said, "because I just sent my mad husband away, and I.m. about to get a divorce". John smiled at me and said, "great, I.ve been looking at you for years"........We went out on our first natural date that week.....to a movie.. That was in 1999 and we've been going to movies, and health food stores, ever since. It turned out that this man, was the very man that my friend had mentioned to me. John and I became one.
(To BE Continued).
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,
Unbelievable, but I.ve been back from my annual IBF - GIC conference for over 3 weeks now, but I.m. still adjusting. After jet lag, many adventures, and all kinds of challenges upon my return, I.ve just been rolling with the flow of things. It seems, I had a major attitude adjustment while away for the week of the International Breathwork Foundations, 25th Global Inspiration Conference (GIC). and my 3 day- after conference holiday in Paris.
As always, the GIC broadens my awareness of the world because it allows me to travel to unique places and at the same time, meet and grow from others who practice "breathwork". This year, the GIC was hosted in Les Jardins de l’Anjou, La Pommeraye, France, and was attended by over 300 persons, represented by over 31 countries.. It was an amazing conference, filled with many amazing people and experiences and during the time, I personally made many shifts of consciousness through the expanded educational and personal development workshops, the love and joy that was so graciously, shared. This being my 4th conference, I.ve attended as well as presented at, I expected adventures, but this year, I handled them with greater flow.
Just getting to this rural area of France, which was 4 hours away from Charles De Gauil airport, was adventure, no 2, after BIG adventure no 1, arriving to our flight in time, yet, to be told that our BWI flight had been cancelled due to rain, and that we only had an hour and 1/2 to go around the beltway to Dulles AP, in rush hour traffic. Traveling this time, with Dr. Arntrice Westbrook, one of my newest certified breathologists and her mother, Ms. Westbrook, was also an unique experience, cause most of my GIC trips, have so far, been by myself. I felt especially responsible that they would have a good experience, and what a way to start a trip off, I thought.
Well, we made the flight and from that point on, it was adventure after adventure, and with each adventure, a greater sense of knowing that "I" plan, but the Creator is truly, the best of planners. Letting go and letting God is not a saying, it's really a practice. Each time, what appeared like "a problem" turned out to be an opportunity for growth and "flow" - a knowingness that all would be alright.
Here's just a few highlights of what I.experienced. My Germain room-mate Uta had a near death experience, but I was at the right place at the right time to support her medical needs. And when I went to my designated area for my workshop presentation, nothing was available - no pillows, no mats - no wires for the sound system, but everyone pitched in, we got what was needed within the 20 minutes delay, and the PlayShop turned out fabulous. Because I was detoxing, my stomach would fill up with "gas" but, I would breathe through the "stress response", so this need offered me lots of opportunities for self-care, and I allowed others to take care of me, instead of "helping" so much, which is my usual "M.O". Then, I returned from the conference for my Paris journey, and when I arrived at the hotel, the confirmation had been cancelled, but I was able to get a better room, with a great room-mate, which reduced my cost. And i missed my flight upon returning, to the States due to the shuttle bus, but instead, got a non-stop flight, next to a delightful family of Mom and 2 toddlers, which allowed me to be supportive of them, but enabled me to be in a better seat with more expanded leg room. , And once I got home, the hotel had over-charged me, wiping out my bank account with all kinds of check charges,, yet, money has come, the bank has supported me, and even the hotel has corrected itself and apologized. FLOW through grace of "letting go".
Now, I.m. going to be truly authentic here - I .m. not saying, that my first reactions were always so great, but that attitude adjustment, I spoke of, really enabled me to use my tools - taking a "deep breath" to slow down the reactive mind, really works my family. And using O.L.B. techniques for breathing into a "gaseous" stomach, or holding a fussy baby close to your belly to calm them down, or speaking your truth, but "breathing through" the anger, so you stay calm and in control of what you are saying - all worked, and keeps working, if you work it. Since returning, I.m. lighter and less burdened by the "have-too's"
I.m. back from France and will always remember this trip, because of the growth, I gained and the many blessings I received. . Now, as soon as I get Google to cooperate and "flow" with me, I'll have pictures to share, so stay tuned.
With my deepest Breath, Sekou Ayo
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.