Report by King Mohamed Kamara
In keeping with tradition, one unique thing about most diaspora African communities is the preservation of their cultural heritage. A tribe that has constantly been observed in the area of cultural preservation is the Mandingo tribe from Liberia, West Africa.
Cultural preservation is glaring among Mandingoes, especially during the observance of the holy month of Ramadan, during which they symbolize their cultural unity by having meal together, which has been a long standing trajectory.
According to Mr. Talata Yahaya Sheriff, a Mandingo, and also president of The Liberian Mandingo Association of Pennsylvania (LIMAP), “the eating and sharing of evening meal together reinforces the “we-feelings” among brothers and sisters of the community, most so during the month of Ramadan.
Every year, one of the lunar months, which is referred to as the month of Ramadan is observed by Muslims in every part of the world thereby symbolizing the monotheistic believe of Allah almighty.
In the case of the community in Philadelphia, Liberian Muslims feel the love and connection of one another with the spirit of oneness of the community. For some, it feels like a home away from home if, and only if one is to do a comparison of the distance between here and Africa, especially considering the tight schedules of each community member here in America.
In Philadelphia, there are different locations where community members assemble to share the evening meal together during Ramadan. In the South West Philly areas, Woodland Ave. is one of such venues where group of young men meet and carry on the tradition and legacies of the parents and grandparents.
Cultural values instilled in the Mandingo community back in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa serve as a constitution in saving the Mandingo tradition. Despite the distance away from home, this West African Mandingo community continues to beautify the tradition and culture by a practical demonstration of their value system in most gatherings.
If there’s nothing Mandingos are known for, the preservation of their tradition, religion and culture are among the most pressing things that have not been compromised since the days of Sundiata Keita and Mansa Kanga Musa of the then Malian Empire, which covered most parts of present days West Africa.
During one of his supplications and prayers (Duar), Iman Mohamed Fofana (Tata-Madee) asked the almighty Allah to forgive the sins of all Muslims and bless Liberia and every Liberian in the rebuilding process of their country. He sought the intervention of Allah in any potential problem that might lead to misunderstanding among Liberians. He prayed for Allah to accept their fast and continues to strengthen their faiths in moving forward with the revitalization of their community.