The Cross Has Another Origin Story, Rediscovered On Formerly Enslaved American Soil

We always assume the “cross” is a symbol meant to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice. But what if the cross has another origin story? One that started in Africa, survived slavery, and calls to us today?

The Cross Has Another Origin Story, Rediscovered On Formerly Enslaved American Soil
Via Wikimedia Commons

Historically the Bakongo people, of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, had a sacred symbol commonly known as “Dekenga” or “Yowa.” Yowa’s the oldest known symbol to map out cosmic understandings of the universe.

Yowa looks like  a circle with a cross inside it.

“The vertical line of [Yowa’s] cross is known as Makula and the horizontal line is known as Kalunga.” Makula represents  dedication to developing a deeper understanding of self over time. Kalunga marks the barrier between the living and spirit realms.

The circle surrounding the crossing of Makula and Kalunga represents the sun’s movement between the realms, implying that there’s possibility for reincarnation.

And now those symbols have been found in the U.S.

Almost half of the enslaved Africans brought to South Carolina were of the Bakongo people. Archeologists recently found Yowa etched into former belongings and dwellings of our people.

While we know there was little comfort for enslaved Africans, there is comfort in knowing Yowa survived with them. A reminder that even in a strange and terrifying land, their ancestors were with them and would be there to guide them whenever they crossed over to the spirit realm.

Yowa reminds us that our ancestors are always there to guide us to true freedom.  

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