African Thought: Dreaming

The new children’s book “Tonight I Am: Affirmations for Early Readers,” follows a child through a dream of possibilities, as they visit worlds full of affirmations, fantasies and goal setting. But why a dream?  

Africans have been inspired by dreaming for centuries. Since Africa has been around for more than six thousand years, it is no surprise that they have learned to harness the power of dreaming. For centuries Africa has been captivated by those dreams that could not be explained; those mysterious and shadowy worlds that opened onto deeper realms of reality. Dreams afford adventure because as Africa found out, they were windows into other lands and times, different dimensions and parallel realities. Dreaming was how the community could communicate with deceased individuals and talk about wishes and desires. And through dreaming, communities chose their leaders or chose peace treaties after a long and devastating war.

Western culture tends to pay little attention to dreams. These are often interpreted as breakdowns of the waking consciousness. To dream is seen as meaning that one’s psychological defenses have broken down, thereby allowing the unconscious mind free reign in one’s thoughts. Dreams are believed to be reflections of repressed desires and fears within the individual psyche. Because Western society does not place great emphasis on dreams, individuals will typically go their entire life ignoring or suppressing any given dream they may experience unless it makes an impression so strong that action must be taken immediately by them either against themselves or someone else who has angered them enough for them act out violently (Freud, 1960).

A contrast can be made with African tribes that value dreams greatly, a more feminine perspective. Africans believe in dreaming and the ability of dreams to foresee future events. Dreaming can be practiced by sleep walking or through rituals that focus on engaging one’s spirit side, such as with divination practices in traditional African cultures where a person is induced into a “dream state.” They believe this dream-state activity can lead to their aké, spiritual power, which generates personal insight and wisdom granting insights about what the future might hold for them.

Westerners tend to view dreaming as a time at night when the mind rests after a long day. Dreams are not taken too seriously as they do not seem to have any future purpose or bearing on reality.  But history has taught us this is not the case. 

May you enjoy the book with your children, as I have with mine. 

Kimberly J. Gordon

Additional Information about ” Tonight I Am : Affirmations for Early Readers ” can be found here, on , and wherever books are sold.

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