|Rites of passage is a timeless African tradition
that intentionally guides a person's holistic development through
life's transitions using cultural learning, rituals and ceremonies
for the discovery of their purpose and responsibility to build
healthy and just communities.
Rites of passage is culture specific, not universal. It is based
on the multi-cultural premise that a group must recognize and
affirm itself before it is able to share and appreciate the
differences of others. Rites of passage also recognizes that
entry into adult life involves the realization of social obligations
and the assumption of responsibility for meeting those obligations.
| Initiation brings individuals into formal and explicit relations
with their fellows. It also reaffirms basic social ties. Rites of
passage provides self-development and cultural awareness, as well
as a sense of belonging; adolescents and adults will become part of
community life - not persons alone, lacking support, sanction, and
The Youth Resiliency Institute partners with The National Rites
of Passage Institute - an international
Institute that offers multiple programs in diverse setting and venues.
NROPI has had success in developing and implementing programs in
communities, schools, churches and prisons. All of its programs
have clear commonalities.
• Important criteria for rites of passage:
• Culture and identity development is central
• Importance of place (place-based)
• Use of ritual and ceremony
• Intergenerational and coed
• Connection to the natural world (nature -based)
• Value-driven (Nguzo Saba)
• Self-Determination/Decision-Making/Locus of Control - People
have the power to make decisions that are in the best interest of
their group (centricity).
Passages provide participants experiences based
on the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles, of Kwanzaa. These experiences
will make the "passage" from childhood to adulthood applicable
and open to participants in all cultures.
Participants internalize the seven principles:
3. COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY
4. COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS
|• Know their history
who they are
• Respect elders
responsibility as a member of a family, a school, and a community
• Improve their environment
What are the benefits of rites of passage?
Nana Anthony Mensah/Photo courtesy of Antoinette Mensah
Rite of passage is a process of regeneration and rebirth. It is
necessary for regenerating and replacing ourselves at the various
stages of the circle of life. Every life transition includes the
death of the previous stage and the birth of the next. This is true
for birth and death. Every passage begins with an ending and ends
with the beginning.
The process for rites of passage reflects three phases, which are
pre-liminal (separation), liminal (transition) and post- liminal
Birth, as a rite of passage, reflects the three phases: Separation
or severance, commences with the onset of labor, the process of
separating from the womb. The journey through the birth canal constitutes
the transition. Delivery, the first breath, and the cutting of the
umbilical cord literally embodies the incorporation into independent
Rites of passage is a process for becoming whole, human and a productive
and contributing member of the family and community. It is a developmental
process that incorporates transitional ritual at the end of each
preceding life stage.
The Youth Resiliency Institute’s
Rites of Passage Process
Youth grow up in communities not just programs. Rites of
Passage frameworks that aim to develop the total person
must address the young person’s ecology, which encompasses
their social and physical environment. YRI immediately meets
youth where they are and is grounded in the concept of what
it means to be a human being who can make sense of the world
in relation to hegemonic power.
The Youth Resiliency Institute’s Rites of
Passage (ROP) process provides youth with the conceptual tools
to give voice to political demands concerning community, cultural
rights, racial/gender inequality, governance, belonging and citizenship,
while helping participants develop the prerequisite cognitive-behavioral
skills to foster stress management, empathy, and negotiate intrapersonal
|All children and youth who participate in YRI core offerings complete
“Ujima cultural organizing projects” that prepare them
for their rites of passage. YRI cultural organizers learn to collaboratively
work, to take responsibility for their own actions, to take different
approaches to complex problem solving, to develop African “susu
economics” business plans, and to evaluate their own performance
with an understanding of the need for life-long emancipatory learning
and civic participation. Once the YRI cultural organizer completes
all of the cultural organizing requirements, he or she is then invited
to become a YRI Rites of Passage candidate.
Recognizing the importance of continuity of adult support over time,
YRI’s Rites of Passage process is designed to keep a young man
or woman involved until at least their 21st birthday.
Please send an email to
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