Introducing Pattigift Therapy
Davy Hay introduces the African centred community interest company Pattigift Therapy.
‘How come you say you want to be free, when the one you’ll be is the one thing you don’t want to be…. African” (James Small)
In a way, this quote sheds some light on who and what Pattigift Therapy is about. It presents a challenge to us, and the African heritage people we come into contact with.
Pattigift Therapy in an earlier version was the brainchild of our Clinical Director Rameri Moukam as a vehicle to address the over representation of African heritage people incarcerated in mental illness hospitals. It sought to utilize African psychological concepts developed in the US by such eminent thinkers as Na’im Akbar and Linda James Myers.
The work culminated in the establishment in 2006 of the first (and only) registered mental ‘health’ unit in the UK, solely for African heritage persons and which sought to work from an African centred perspective.
Most people reading this will be unaware that something like this had occurred. It speaks volumes as to the difficulties in engaging the African heritage communities in their own mental health wellbeing. But in hindsight it also speaks to how we came up short in not bringing the community with us on our journey, (a lesson well learned).
As it was, the project subsequently failed, primarily because agreements that had been given by funders prior to registration were taken back once we were registered. They hadn’t expected us to succeed!.
The financial scars were deep (it will be next year before we’re debt free). However the psychological scars have been much more prolonged. For a long time we were in a state of somnambulism.
We have survived and thrived for a number of reasons but for sake of brevity I’ll mention two. Firstly, and I think most importantly,; our willingness to tap into an African self-consciousness frame of reference. Our ancestral wise men and women taught us that life challenges are not problems to be consumed by, but lessons to help promote your self as a child of God (your divinity).
Secondly, our total and unwavering belief that African heritage people are to great extent the creators of this limited reality we call Black British society. And that through a willingness to increase one’s self knowledge a person can positively impact their reality and can start to imagine a vision of themselves beyond what they thought (or were taught) was possible; and by so doing impact those around them.
That leads me on quite well to our current project. We will be challenging the African heritage community in Birmingham to engage in a series of psycho-educational groups and forums over the next few weeks and months. With the express purpose of looking at how we think, understanding the reasons behind our behaviours, which make us despair at our presumed impotence. Challenge each and every person who considers themselves part of this group to become a catalyst for change.
I believe it was Franz Fanon who stated that liberation only becomes a mass movement when individuals begin to engage in liberating their own minds.
I will leave you with an African proverb:
‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito.