African Cultural Calendar

Time in Our Image

Songhai 29, 505 otd

Africalendar Similarities to the Ancestors' Calendars

African Cultural Calendar is similar to the calendars our ancestors, who built societies along the Nile Valley from Axum to Kemet, created. The same calendars were also used across our homeland in Ghana and Mali and south through Zimbabwe. The African Cultural Calendar is based on the history and culture of our people. The calendars that our ancestor created are at its foundation. In the Nile Valley, calendars had twelve months. Each of the month had 30 days. The African Cultural Calendar is similar; it has 12 months and eleven of those months have 30 days each. Another similarity between the calendars of our ancestors and the African Cultural Calendar is that the ancestors’ calendar had a five-day period at the end of the year for the celebration of the gods’ birthday. The ancestors didn’t work on those days. The African Cultural Calendar has a similar period of seven days. Those seven days are a renewal period for the transitions from the old year to the new year. It is named after the Africans in America holiday: Kwanzaa but it is meant to be a period when the old year transitions into a new year. This, in the African Cultural Calendar, is envisioned to be a time for celebration, for family and for community.

In the Nile Valley, the year had twelve months with 365 1/4 days and it was divided into three seasons of four months each. This is a feature that the African Cultural Calendar emulated. The African Diaspora is worldwide, and we are in areas that have just two seasons like the Caribbean and areas which claim to have four seasons. Our ancestors based their calendars on their environment, recognizing only three seasons. Akhet was the first season in the year, and it included the first four months of the year.

It was the season of the inundation and could be thought of as the wet season except instead of having six months it only had four. The four months were Thoth, Paophi, Hather and Choiak. Those four months were replaced in the African Cultural Calendar with Kemet, Nubia, Meroe and Axum. The names of these afrimonths were taken from the societies that our ancestors built in the Nile Valley. These societies are at the foundation of every African, no matter where in the diaspora he or she is.

The year in the Nile Valley did not start on what would be considered January 1st, it was closer to the middle of July. The year in African Cultural Calendar is similar. It does not start on January 1st; it starts after the renewal period on what would be considered January 2nd. The African Cultural Calendar also thinks of the year as having three seasons. Although this is similar to what the ancestors had done, the initial reason for dividing the afriyear into three season was to try and represent the entire diaspora. Some parts of the diaspora have two seasons and other parts have four seasons. The average is three. This is the reason for three seasons in the African Cultural Calendar. This allows us to further stand with the ancestors by using the names that the ancestors used for the seasons in the African Cultural Calendar. The first season in the African Cultural Calendar is also called Akhet.

Each month in the ancestors’ calendars had 30 days, so each season had 120 days. Following Akhet was Peret, spring or as the ancestors said, time when crops appear. Peret included the months: Tybi, Mechir, Phamenoth and Pharmouthi. It was the period after the inundation and included part of what would be considered summer in northern hemisphere. The African Cultural Calendar defined Peret as the period covered by the afrimonths: Ghana, Mali, Songhai and Nzinga. The third season was Shenu, which for our ancestors was summertime. Shenu also had four months: Pachons, Payni, Epiphi and Mesore. Shenu in the African Cultural Calendar includes the afrimonths: Quilombo, Tubman, Yaa and Garvey. These three seasons for the ancestors had 360 days, the remaining five days were used for celebration. In the African Cultural Calendar, the three seasons: Akhet, Peret and Shenu have 358 days, the remaining seven days is the renewal period during which Kwanzaa is celebrated.

The renewal period in not considered a month. It is similar to the five-day period in the ancestors’ calendar for celebrating the gods. The year in the African Cultural Calendar ends on the last day of Garvey and then the old year transitions through the renewal period and the new year starts seven days later. In the ancestors’ calendars, days in the five-day period were named for the god whose birthday was being celebrated or the day took on the name of the festival. The African Cultural Calendar also has a similar feature. The days in the seven-day renewal period are named after that days’ Kwanzaa principle. The first day in the renewal period is called Umoja, the second day is called Kujichagulia, etc. instead of Monday, Tuesday, etc. The African Cultural Calendar is not like the calendars that are used today but it is very much like the calendars of our ancestors.