Alice Walker (born February 9, 1944) is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. In 1982, she wrote the novel The Color Purple, for which she won the National Book Award for hardcover fiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She also wrote the novels Meridian (1976) and The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970). An avowed feminist, Walker coined the term womanist to mean "A black feminist or feminist of color" in 1983.
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To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves, that the line stretches all the way back, perhaps, to God; or to Gods. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love, and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrows, is always a measure of what has gone before.
In the Baemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person . . . has done in his lifetime. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. The tribal ceremony often lasts several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.