And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today. (Deuteronomy 15:12–15)
Ta-Nehisi Coates uses this Old Testament biblical quote at the beginning of his article, The Case for Reparations, in which he contends that America will never be whole until it has settled its moral debts.
Kevin D. Williamson counters in The Case against Reparations where he explains why the remedy proposed by Coates “would not satisfy the criterion of justice.” Williamson also strikes against the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act originally introduced to Congress in January of 1989 by John Conyers Jr., suggesting that this bill (H.R. 40) “is not so much to construct a program of economic compensation as it is to have another verse of that Democratic hymn, an honest conversation about race.”
In the Caribbean a ten-point plan for reparations against slavery is being championed under the chairmanship of Sir Hilary Beckles, with the help of a law firm which was successful in its reparations claim for Kenyans who were tortured by the British government during the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule in the 1950s. While the financial amends awarded by Britain may represent a token settlement of its moral debt towards Kenya, the fact that the sacred Great Lake and equatorial Source of the Nile River is still named after “Victoria” – the British queen the Mau Mau fought against who presided (1837-1901) over her country’s role in occupying and obtaining African land and treasure – is evidence of the depth of the “repairs” that are yet needed in order to restore an authentic balance through returning the Divine Feminine to Her standing in human affairs.
The following gem from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple comes to mind both as a metaphor and preface: “I curse you, I say. What that mean? he say. I say, Until you do right by me, everything you touch will crumble. He laugh. Who do you think you is? he say. You can’t curse nobody. Look at you. You black, you poor, you ugly, you a woman. God-damn, he say, you nothing at all. Until you do right by me, I say, everything you even dream about will fail. I give it to him straight, just like it come to me. And it seem to come from the trees.”
“I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” (Song of Songs 1:5)
The daughters of Jerusalem refer to the African Shulamite as “thou fairest among women,” as she assumes her role in repairing the sacred relationship She shares with Her true Beloved, who represents a contrasting order than that embodied by the character of Solomon in the Song of Songs. King Solomon (famed for wisdom, wealth, and possessing 700 wives and 300 concubines) represents the unease of one who has come by his power and excess of creature comforts through gross objectification of the feminine, capitalist exploitation (in forms such as share-cropping), occupation, and the guardianship of its military war machine. As the Shulamite points out to the daughters:
“Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it… They all hold swords, being expert at war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.” (Song of Songs 3:7-8) “Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.” (Song of Songs 8:11-12)
By prioritizing reconciliation with the sleeping giant who is Her true beloved, and playing the culturally-based funerary role She is uniquely qualified for, the Shulamite establishes throughout the Song of Songs that heaven and eternity come through reparations with Her: “Draw me, we will run after thee…we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee” (Song of Songs 1:4) The two lovers interrelate as Neteru (God/dess), divine immortals whose complementary energies explain and necessitate each other while informing the structure and harmonious functioning of the universe. Truth, heavenly order, justice, reciprocity and balance are recognized in ancient and eternal African sacred wisdom as MA’AT ~ Divine Feminine and Consort of the Heavenly Scribe, DJEHUTI (AKA Thoth & Hermes Trismegistus in later Greek versions).
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth… (Song of Songs 1:2) He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love… (2:4) My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away… (2:16-17) Awake, O north wind: and come, thou south: blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden… (4:16) I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me… (7:10) His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please… (8:3-4) For love is strong as death… (8:6)”
Known as the Principles of Ma’at, the oldest written sources of moral and spiritual instruction honor the Divine Feminine. These principles were recorded in the Book of Going Forth By Day – the Kemetic funerary text – in 42 confessions of one having lived a righteous life such as, “I have not done iniquity; I have not stolen; I have not made any to suffer pain; I have done no murder nor bid anyone to slay on my behalf; I have not spoken lies; I have not caused the shedding of tears; I have not dealt deceitfully; I have not acted guilefully; I have not been angry or wrathful without a just cause; I have not lusted nor defiled the wife of any man; I have not polluted myself; I have not caused terror; I have not done that which is abominable; I have not judged hastily; I have not stopped my ears against the words of Right and Truth; I have not worked grief; I have not stirred up strife; I have not wronged the people; I have done no harm nor have I done evil; I have not worked treason; I have never fouled the water; I have not spoken scornfully; I have not behaved with arrogance; I have not envied or craved for that which belongs to another; I have never magnified my condition beyond what was fitting…
Over 2000 years later, a distilled and revised version came about, purportedly through Moses, with an infantilizing patriarchal posture in each “Thou shalt not…!” of the abstracted so-called Ten Commandments. When the sacred role of the Divine Feminine was thus usurped in the male-centric project of myth-building and global domination, it signaled a take-down of MA’AT, creating vulnerability against humanity through this breach in the masculine-feminine balance of the universe revered in the African sacred consciousness. The ANKH (key of life) that is carried faithfully by each Neteru, is the sacred symbol of this Africa-centered, gender-complementary world-view – the circle above the crucifix representing the feminine. In the twin enterprises of slavery and colonialism the bible had become an effective weapon of the adversary, and it was used to target the dominions of the Divine Feminine in particular:
“When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” (Jomo Kenyatta ~ Mau-Mau warrior and first President of post-colonial Kenya)
The Great Lake in Eden (Cradle of Humanity) which still bears the designation of its colonial oppressor – Victoria, AKA “grand-mother of Europe” – is humanity’s equatorial Source in the call for Reparations… and Source of the Nile which is central to the sacred wisdom developed in Kemet. Expropriated and reiterated in its altered formats with recurring insistence by biblical scribes in versions such as “King James…” “New Jerusalem…” “New English…” “New American…” and “New International…” this wisdom has been rescripted to serve an imperialist mission that infantilizes and disenfranchises through colonization of the African and Divine Feminine. Perhaps this is why, through an Africa-centered reading of the Song of Songs, it is of no small significance that She would portentously announce Her “black [but] comely” identity whilst eloquently articulating and diligently carrying out Her role as keeper of Her vineyard (garden of reparation) …as the One who presides over birth and “sleep” …as co-Creator and co-Anchor of Heaven-in-Earth…
Djehuti asks, “Art thou not aware that Egypt is the image of heaven, or rather, that it is the projection below of the order of things above?” Her “Milky Way” flows northward from its equatorial Great Lake Source or Cradle in Eden as the River Nile, which matured and bore the great spiritual fruit of the Neteru in ancient Kemet back in the day… before the African giant fell asleep under the adversary’s powerful anesthetic, which is analogous to the “milk” of the shadow-queen “Victoria.” However, under the watch and care of His sistah-spouse, Africa’s God-of-gods is awakening: “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk (Song of Songs 5:1). Now is the prophetic time for Reparations as a restoration of Ma’at: a conscious return to Source and the re-pair of the Divine Feminine and Mother of Humanity in order for all else to evolve organically, credibly and successfully in the collective human project. UBUNTU says “I am because we are…”
“Return, return, O Shulamite; return return, that we may look upon thee…” (Song of Songs 6:13)