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The right to remember.....When it is truly alive, memory doesn't contemplate history, it invites us to make it.
                                          Edouardo Galeano,  Upside Down

Matrilineal Succession

African culture has long believed that the Mother and child relationship is the foundation of all society. Most of human society, to very recent historical times, also clung to this moral and spiritual precept.  Thus, in ancient times, motherhood was a source of great celebration, honor and authority. It is motherhood that guards the morality of the community. In ancient cultures, motherhood is the core of communal organization. It is the mother who was responsible for transmitting political rights and confirming social position. The etymology of the word "matricarchy" is arch, which means principle and matri, which means mother. Thus, the word matriarchy means mother principle. It does not imply woman domination or the systematic abuse of men and boys. The communities of the matriarchal Amazons and the Gorgons of Libya are a decided formation of beliefs and culture that stand outside the great epoch of classical civilization. These societies formed after the ancient ones collapsed. 
Nurturence, compassion, altruism and peacefulness in this context are  communal concerns. This is the great wisdom of ancient civilizations that seem to maintain a sense of order and balance, which is unimaginable among modern peoples. Among ancient Africans, a woman's place derived from her overall ability to create and sustain culture. Her powers were spiritual, mental and physical and her true place was in the home or Great House of the known and unknown universe. Motherhood, among the ancients, is the Great Mountain, the ancestors (the Neteru), the Great River, the Great Cycle and the Great Law.

The oldest known system of humanity is matrilineal succession.  Matrilineal culture has long believed that the mother and child relationship is the center of communal life.  For all communities, to very recent times clung also to this moral and spiritual precept.  Thus in ancient times, motherhood itself was a source of great celebration, honor and authority.  It is with motherhood that the moral life of society is protected and encouraged.  In ancient cultures, motherhood is the core of societal, political and spiritual organization.  The woman was responsible for transmitting political rights, name and social position.

The emergence of patriarchal societies came with the many waves of violent invaders and forced and deceptive conversions of aboriginal 
peoples to religion.  The new religion accompanied enslavement and 
colonization, which was presented as social caste.  This is ironic since 
many major religions emerged from the efforts of the Mothers and paternal heads that were not dualistic and warlike in their temperament.  The roots of many major religions are traced back to Africa.   The new "church" intiated and maintained thorough patriarchal consciousness in social organization, politics and theology. 

Some estimate that the matrilineal epoch of humanity lasted for up to 25,000 years or more.  The maternal clan system is as old as humanity itself.  This is the prefamily period. Certain aspects characterize many matrilineal civilizations.  This does not only express its feminization, but it is well known that most, if not all of these cultures were African.  Matrilineal patterns of social organization are strong in ancient and even modern African communities.  Some suggest it is this very idea that has essentially defined proto-African culture from more modern populations.  This is the assertion of Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop in his book, The Cultural Unity of Africa, 1990.  Correctly, what characterizes matrilineal culture also reveals traditional African currents and concerns.

Matrilineal communities are known to participate in and or manifest 
certain communal aspects.

  • Maternal systems space their children fo health and weaning.
  • Maternal systems supports equal growth for women and men.
  • Maternal systems supports communal sharing of resources and land.
  • Maternal systems respects a woman's right to choose and decide her future.

These are some of the general traits. These traits definitely pertains to the more notorious matrilineal, African civilizations like Cush, Khemet, Indus Valley, Crete, Troy, Babylon, Sumer, Canaan among others.

Modern people tend to view matrilineal societies with fear.  Their legacy and level of accomplishments cannot be disputed or overlooked.  For they are responsible for all manners of science, art, philosophy, religion and culture.  Their enduring legacy is so great that  they are remembered as the golden city, the original paradise, the one heaven on earth and the land of milk and honey.

by Matomah Alesha

Black Goddess Forum