The Way of Ma’at


4 April Maat Poster“I found no place on which to stand… I made a foundation in my heart by means of my own will.”

~ King Ptah Hotep

Searching for the origins of the values and principles that uBuntu is known for one inevitably comes across the concept of Ma’at that forms part of our ancient Khemetic African Spirituality.

Ma’at was seen as the personification of truth, balance, law, order, justice, integrity, reciprocity, uprightness and the highest conception of physical and moral law known to the Egyptians. All of these views about Ma’at are encapsulated in the principles of ‘Divine Truth,’ the ‘Unity of All Things’ and ‘Eternal Life.’

Ma’at became known for the so-called Forty two Declarations of Ma’at that are associated with seven cardinal virtues that formed the guidelines for correct moral behavior dating back to at least 1 500 years before the discovery of the Ten Commandments.

In Nguni Kosmology, the primary creative principle that Ma’at represents is embodied in Nomkhubulwane – the ‘creative force’ who is sometimes referred to as the daughter of God and the goddess of balance.

The Story of Ma’at
Ma’at is typically illustrated sitting or standing, with a scale, wearing an ostrich feather in her head-band and carrying a ‘was’ scepter (symbol for power) in one hand and an ankh (symbol for eternal life) in the other. Given her connection with air/primordial breath she is sometimes depicted as a semi-avian deity with wings instead of arms. Often, the feather itself was taken to represent Ma’at in absentia. The role of Ma’at was to regulate the stars and the seasons; for maintaining balance in the universe and in society. It was also her duty to determine if a deceased person would have eternal life by placing the person’s heart on one side of a scale (scale of justice) and the feather (truth) on the other side of the scale. Through Ma’at/uBuntu we realize that to have eternal life (perfect balance and unity), we need to have a heart as light as a feather.

When we appreciate uBuntu and Ma’at in the fullest sense we realize that the two concepts are interchangeable. With Afrikan religion being based upon the theosophy (Divine Wisdom) and the Hermetic philosophy of sciences/the Science of Thought of Khem or ancient Ethiopia, Ma’at is seen as the Ancient Ethiopian/Egyptian explanation, symbol, or representative of uBuntu.