Sola Rey

Why do Africans & African descendants pour liquor onto the floor in honor of the dead?

Cultural Similarities:

Libation was part of ancient Egyptian society where it was a drink offering to honor and please the various divinities, sacred ancestors, humans present and not present, as well as the environment.

It is suggested that libation originated somewhere in the upper Nile Valley and spread out to other regions of Africa and the world.

A lost city in the sand may hold the key to unlocking Nubia’s past.

Tropic of Cancer: The Tropic of Cancer, also referred to as the Northern Tropic is 23°26′13.6″ north of the Equator. It is the most northerly circle of latitude on the Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead.

Equator: Near the Equator there is little distinction between summer, winter, autumn, or spring. The temperatures are usually high year-round.

Tropic of Capricorn: The Tropic of Capricorn is the circle of latitude that contains the sub-solar point on the December solstice. It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead. Its northern equivalent is the Tropic of Cancer.

Libation Vessel of Manuwai

Geographic Location: Africa

Metal: Silver

Alabaster Libation Table

This alabaster libation table, supported by two lions, was used for the liquid libation “water-wine” which was poured on the table and collected in the vase at the back, when the deceased could come and take it. It dates from the Archaic Period and was discovered at Saqqara.

Offering table found at Meroe

The rings in a row on this offering table no doubt represent loaves of bread. The scene engraved above resembles a kind found on upright steles: a woman on the left and a dog-headed man on the right are leaning forward, pouring a liquid offering that they appear to have drawn from the large jars on the ground before them. In the center, an Egyptian-style table on a water lily-shaped support is engraved with circles representing loaves of bread. The lines that lead from the loaves toward the table edge, via the overflow, probably represent the libation water, which the engraver may have imagined to be the same as the water poured by the two figures.

Offering tables were blocks of sculpted stone, intended to be placed in front of the magical false doors and statues of tombs; they were fundamental items in the cult of the dead and the gods. This one is particularly rare: it comes from Meroe, capital of a kingdom located in modern Sudan, south of the fifth cataract of the Nile.

                               An offering table
The offering table played a major role in the Egyptian cult of the dead and the gods: it concretized offerings of food and drink by representing them on a horizontal block of stone. A channel allowed water (poured in libation and to purify the food) to flow onto the floor.

 According to Ayi Kwei Armah, “this legend explains the rise of a propitiatory custom found everywhere on the African continent: libation, the pouring of alcohol or other drinks as offerings to ancestors and divinities.”

Ancient Israel:

Main article: drink offering

Libations were part of ancient Judaism and are mentioned in the Bible:

And Jacob set up a Pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a Pillar of Stone; and he poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it.

— Genesis 35:14

Isaiah uses libation as a metaphor when describing the end of the Suffering Servant figure who “poured out his life unto death”. (53:12)


The English word “libation” derives from the Latin libatio, an act of pouring, from the verb libare, “to taste, sip; pour out, make a libation” (Indo-European root*leib-, “pour, make a libation”). In ancient Roman religion, the libation was an act of worship in the form of a liquid offering, most often unmixed wine and perfumed oil. The Roman god Liber Pater (“Father Liber“), later identified with the Greek Dionysus or Bacchus, was the divinity of libamina, “libations,” and liba, sacrificial cakes drizzled with honey.

In Roman art, the libation is shown performed at an altar, mensa (sacrificial meal table), or tripod. It was the simplest form of sacrifice, and could be a sufficient offering by itself. The introductory rite (praefatio) to an animal sacrifice included an incense and wine libation onto a burning altar. Both emperors and divinities are frequently depicted, especially on coins, pouring libations. Scenes of libation commonly signify the quality of pietas, religious duty or reverence.

The libation was part of Roman funeral rites, and may have been the only sacrificial offering at humble funerals. Libations were poured in rituals of caring for the dead (see Parentalia and Caristia), and some tombs were equipped with tubes through which the offerings could be directed to the underground dead.

Milk was unusual as a libation at Rome, but was regularly offered to a few deities, particularly those of an archaic nature or those for whom it was a natural complement, such as Rumina, a goddess of birth and childrearing who promoted the flow of breast milk, and Cunina, a tutelary of the cradle.

It was offered also to Mercurius Sobrius (the “sober” Mercury), whose cult is well attested in Roman Africa and may have been imported to the city of Rome by an African community.

In African cultures, African traditional religions

the ritual of pouring libation is an essential ceremonial tradition and a way of giving homage to the ancestors. Ancestors are not only respected in such cultures, but also invited to participate in all public functions (as are also the gods and God).

A prayer is offered in the form of libations, calling the ancestors to attend. The ritual is generally performed by an elder. Although water may be used, the drink is typically some traditional wine (e.g. palm wine), and the libation ritual is accompanied by an invitation (and invocation) to the ancestors, gods and God. In the Volta region of Ghana, water with a mixture of corn flour is also used to pour libation.


Libation is also commonly recognized as the break within the famous performance of Agbekor, a ritual dance performed in West African cultures. It is also poured during traditional marriage ceremony, when a child is born and funeral ceremony. Traditional Festivals like Asafotu and Homowo of the Ga Adangbe people of Ghana and Togo.

Also during installment of Kings, Queens, Chiefs libation is poured.

In the contemporary United States, there is a tradition of pouring libations of malt liquor from a forty before drinking, which is particularly associated with African-American rappers.


This is referred to as “tipping” to one’s [dead] homies (friends), or “pouring one out”. This is referenced in various songs, such as the 1993 “Gangsta Lean (This Is For My Homies)” by DRS(“I tip my 40 to your memory”), and sometimes accompanied by ritual expressions such as “One for me, and one for my homies” as well as the 1994 song “Pour Out a Little Liquor” by 2Pac.


I guess old habits are hard to break -Sola

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