How thrilling! There is at least one part of the world where, for at least one day of the year, imagination decrees that space be set aside to make noise. The louder the better, truth be told—and for good reason.
In the Igbo (aka Ibo) tradition of southeastern Nigeria, New Year’s Day, Onwa Izizi, isn't January 1, it's the vernal equinox.
But, before the new year begins: Happy Ibu Afo! Today is the day to chase last year's grief away.
Early in the day, people will break into a cacophony of strange noises, filling the air with the sounds of old-year griefs taking their symbolic flight. Later, at an appointed time, they will go home and shut their doors on grief; making as much noise as they can. But, they must be at home or inside at this time. If caught outside, grief might take them up in its swirl, as it flies off with the old year.
Finally, as sounds wane and grief is spent, it’s time to celebrate a new year of hope and happiness. The Ibu Afo Festival clears the way for the coming of spring rains and the planting season—season of new life.
In upstate New York, too, where I am, there are signs of spring. The crocuses have decided to bloom; pushing their way up through beds of lingering snow. Vision of indomitability, they come bearing proof of resilience, renewal, possibility. Nature knows best.
What a gift it’s been to me—and I hope to you—to discover this parallel universe of expectations; to open my sights to the perspectives of other cultures and expand my options. Whatever the time of year, the place, the faith and imagination, we can always declare a new (and better) day to come—and devise myriad ways to welcome it.
How exciting! Sharing the Ibu Afo Festival of our Igbo cousins today, we can start our old new year anew; dare new thoughts unburdened by the past. We can make of this day of unfamiliar rites and rituals, an opportunity to relish untold options for our lives, dreams, and idea-making.
And then tomorrow: Happy Onwa Izizi! Happy New Year! Happy Spring!—season of new hope, perched on the horizon; awaiting us just around the bend.
Did you know that African American women founded the Women’s Movement? Launching the first known book club, the Female Literary Association of Philadelphia on September 17, 1831, these Founding Mothers wrote their constitution, published it in the December 3, 1831 edition of The Liberator (pictured here), and the rest is herstory.
Order a signed FIRST EDITION HARDCOVER of SISTER DAYS and download a digital copy of that original "founding document" in the actual historic newspaper.
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The Spirit of Harriet Tubman Guest: Spring Washam
Rounding out Women’s History Month, we honor the most revered Underground Railroad conductor of them all. Harriet Tubman made her way out of no way from enslavement to freedom; circled back to rescue her parents; liberated more than 300 other enslaved men, women, and children; enlisted as Civil War spy for Union forces; was the first woman to lead American troops in battle; and remains—110 years after her death—an international human rights icon.
Join me for a conversation across history, herstory, and belief systems when visionary meditation and dharma teacher, Spring Washam, raises The Spirit of Harriet Tubman to help us confront the demons of our day and make real our own escape to freedom.
THE JANUS ADAMS SHOW airs and streams live Saturdays at Noon eastern time on WJFF Radio Catskill, www.WJFFRadio.org. For show notes, VISIT my website: JanusAdams.com/show
Available Friday, March 24, 2023: Visit the show page here.
Download the podcast on Apple here.
I first happened upon pianist, singer, composer René Marie on YouTube. I watched, awed, as she performed her signature song, “Many Years Ago.” Hearing her powerfully quiet, soulful, wistful, haunting elegy, I’ve been a fan ever since. Watch here to know why—to feel why—for yourself. Her album, The Sound of Red, featuring “my” song is a treasure. Read more about her here.
* Harambee is a Ki-Swahili term popularized by the Kenyan Independence Movement meaning "let's all pull together!"
Emmy Award-winning journalist, author, historian, keynote speaker, Dr. Janus Adams is publisher of BackPaxKids.com and host of public radio’s
“The Janus Adams Show” and podcast.