Excerpts from “Forgiveness – The Greatest Healer of All” by Gerald Jampolsky

Here is another story about forgiveness that comes from Africa. When a person acts unjustly or irresponsibly in the Baremba tribe of South Africa, he or she is placed alone in the center of the village but is not prevented from running off.

Everyone in the village stops working and gathers in a circle around the person who has been accused. Then each person, regardless of age, begins telling the person in the center about all the good things he or she has done during his or her life.

Everything that can be remembered about this person is described in great detail. All the accused’s positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are verbalized for their benefit.

All the stories about this person are told with the utmost sincerity and love. Nobody is insincere or sarcastic as they speak. No one is allowed to exaggerate events, and everyone knows that they cannot make the stories up.

This ceremony continues until everyone in the village has had his or her say about how they value this person as a respected member of the community. This process can go on for several days. In the end, the tribe breaks the circle, and a joyous celebration occurs as the person is welcomed back into the tribe.

Through the eyes of love, which this ceremony so beautifully describes, we find only reunion and forgiveness. Each person in the circle, as well as the person who is standing in the center, is reminded that forgiveness gives us the opportunity to let go of the past and the fearful future. The person in the center is no longer labeled as a bad person or excluded from the community. Instead, they are reminded of the love that is within them and are joined with those around them.