The 42 commandments of Ma’at

In order to understand what we will say here, it is important for any of us to get on the journey of death as Africans think it.

Maât, fille de Dieu, elle représente la Vérité et la Justice
Maât, daughter of God, she represents the Truth and the justice, with her feather on her head.

Maât represents the entire law that ruled the life of the ancient Kamits (Blacks). After they studied and discovered the existence of God, our ancestors concluded that the aim of the existence was the preservation and the perpetration of life. They voiced a set of laws responsible for the application of this philosophy and to guarantee order and harmony within the society, as God had done when, by the disorder of the primal waters, He/She made the creation tidy and harmonious.

Every human being has the duty, like God at the beginning, to put order instead of disorder, the good instead of the evil, truth instead of lie, justice instead of injustice etc…It is this conception of the continuation of life through truth and justice that Maât contains.

The opposite of Maat is Isfet. Isfet and its adepts must absolutely be defeated with violent methods if it is necessary as a last resort. It is this conception of the perpetual practice of the good that explains why we Africans, without having been absolutely perfect, were one of the most virtuous people of the world in the ancient times. Our societies were not based on slavery, there were no genocides before the foreign influences, practically no famine, no homeless people, there was a strong solidarity, there were very least blood shedding during wars, the kings ruled for the good of their people and there were hospitality towards foreigners. The historian and geographer Louise Marie Diop-Maes speaks about the ancient African societies as being “surprisingly human”. By affirming this, the context in which we are today requires the defeat of Isfet.

Un homme Mursi d'Ethiopie portant la Plume de la Maât
A Mursi man of Ethiopia wearing the feather of Maât

Maât can be found in the entire authentic Africa, under several names. According to the Cameroonian scholar Nkoth Bisseck, it is told Mbog (Basa, Cameroon), Mbongi (Kikongo, Congos), Mbok (Wolof, Senegal), Fokon’olo (Madagascar), Mboka (Lingala, DR Congo), Bok (Fon, Benin), Mvog (Ewondo, Cameroon), Fokh (Fang, Cameroon-Gabon- Equ. Guinea), Woko (Rwanda-Burundi), Wiko (Coptic, Egypt), Wogo (Shilluk, South Soudan), Wooko (Pular, West Africa and Central Africa), Mogho (Mossi, Burkina Faso), Dugu (Bambara, Mali), Dhuughaa (somali), Hoggo (Dogon, Mali), Mpow (Akan, West Africa), Mogho (Soninke, West Africa), Hugan (Haiti), Gbako (Mandinka, West Africa) etc…

Every African must dedicate his life to Maât. By the time of the demise one must prove that he has applied Maât. To do so, the defunct face the last judgment. When one passes away, the body perishes, the indestructible energy becomes eternal (eternal life) and the spirit/soul, which is accountant of the acts one has committed, must be judged by Usiré/Osiris. Usiré chairs the court of the last judgment in the room of the two Maâts, accompanied by his sister/wife Aisata (Isis) and their sister Nabintu (Nephtys). As the first being to have known the full cycle of existence (life-death-justification-resurrection), Usiré is able to determine who must obey the divine laws.

planche III du livre des formules efficaces pour la fusion dans la lumière divine (plus connu sous le nom de livre des morts des anciens egyptiens). On y voit le defunt et sa femme (vetus de blanc) qui passent l'epreuve du jugement divin Inpou a une tête de chien, Djehouty une tête d'Ibis. Le corps d'Amout est fait de 3 animaux
Plank III of the book of the effective formulas for the fusion into the divine light (most known by the name of the Book of the dead of the ancient Egyptians). We can see the dead and his wife (dressed in white) who pass the test of the divine judgment. We can see on the top some of the 42 gods of Maât. Inpu has a dog’s face; he is arming the scale with the feather on one side and the heart on the other side. Djehuty got an Ibis’s head. The body of Amut is composed of 3 animals.

Horo (Horus) – son of Usiré and Aisata – introduces the dead in the room of the two Maâts. Inpu (Anubis) places his hearth, where the Bâ (soul) resides, on a scale. The heart must be lighter than the feather and the 42 commandments must have been applied. If the issue of the judgment is positive, the dead will be justified by Usiré and his soul will be transferred to a newborn (resurrection/reincarnation). The living will meet God through his eternal energy. This way he becomes a deserving ancestor. On the contrary, Amut (crocodile-lion-hippopotamus divinity) will devour the heart that will serve as food for the 42 gods of the Maât.

Wosiré (Osiris) , celui qui est né, mort et ressuscité pour la première fois dans toute l'histoire universelle
Usiré (Osiris), the one who was born, who died, was justified and resurrected for the first time. He is on his throne, chairing the court of the death to judge the dead.

Front of Usiré and his sisters, the dead must pronounce the following words :

Indj her ek ntjer aa, Neb Maâty – Hail, oh great god, master of the two Maats

Yu.i reh kwi tju reh kwi ren ek – I know you and I know your name

Reh kwi ren n pa ntjeru 42 – I know the name of the 42 gods

Ankhyu m sawu djut es – Who live off the sins they care

Amy m senef sen – And drink their blood

Heru pwi n kedu m bah Un nefer – The day of the evaluation of the qualities in front of Un nefer (the eternally good/Osiris)

Mek saty merety irty neb Maâty ren ek – The one of the two girls (Aisata and Nabintou), the master of the two Maâts is your name

Mek iu i ii kwi her ek – Now I come to you

In n i n ek Maât – And I brought you what is fair

Dera n i n ek isfet – I chased away inequity for you

  1. N ir i isfet r remet I have not committed iniquity (the sin) against men
  2. N semar i undjut I have not mistreated people
  3. N ir i iuwyt m set Maât I have not committed sin instead of Truth
  4. N rekh i ntet I have not tried to know what is not meant be known = I didn’t get involved in businesses which are not mine
  5. N ir i bu dju I did not hurt
  6. N ir i tep ra neb baku iret n i, n rou ren i iat net herep hemu I have not started my day of work by receiving a commission by people who were supposed to work under my control (I have not been corrupted) ; and my name did not reach the functions of a leader of workers
  7. N nemehe i hemuu m het ef I did not deprive artisans from their goods
  8. N ir i but ntjeru I did not commit what is abominable to gods
  9. N semer i I did not make anybody cry
  10. N sema i I did not kill
  11. N udj i sema I did not order any killing
  12. N ir i menet her neb remet I did not upset anybody
  13. N hebi i sebu m ru peru I did not decrease the food offerings in temples
  1. N udj i ntjeru pawutju I did not blaspheme against the primordial gods

    Femme Duruma, Kenya avec la plume de la Maât
    Duruma woman, Kenya. She wears the feather of Maat
  2. N nehem i fenhu ahu I did not steal the patties destined to the blessed
  3. N nek i es I have not been pederast (homosexuality)
  4. N dada i I did not fornicate (sex with a married person)
  5. N hebi i debhu I did not steal in the bushel (steal wheat)
  6. N hebi i setjat I did not decrease the setjat (I did not falsify counts)
  7. N siat i ahut I did not cheat on ground
  8. N wah i her mut net yusu I did not add weight to the scale
  9. N nemehe i m teh n mehat I did not distort the counterweight of the scale
  10. N nemehe i irtet m ra n nehnu I did not take the milk off the mouth of the little children
  11. N kef i huut her semu sen I did not deprive the little livestock of its pastures
  12. N sehet i apedu n tur ntjeru I did not trap birds in the reed bed of the gods
  13. N ham i remu n hawut sen I did not fish fishes from their lagoons
  14. N hesef i mu m ter ef I did not retained water in its season
  15. N den i denit her mu asu I did not oppose a dike against flowing waters
  16. N ahem i het m at es I did not put out a fire in its ardour
  17. N tehi i suu her setpet I did not omit the days of meat offerings
  18. N seni i menmenet her het ntjer I did not divert the livestock from the meal (offering) of god
  19. N hesaf i ntjer m perou ef I did not oppose myself to a god in their exit in procession
Homme centrafricain avec la plume de la Maât
Men from the Central African Republic with the feather of Maât
Homme peul, Afrique de l'ouest Hommes Igbo, Nigeria
Fulani man, West Africa
Igbo men, Nigeria

Yu i wab i sepa ! Yu i wab i sepa! Yu i wab i sepa! Yu i wab i sepa I am pure, I am pure, I am pure, I am pure, I am pure.

Nen kheper bu dju r i m ta pen ushet tjen net Maaty her ntet twi reh kwi ren n nen ntjeru unyu im es No harm shall happen to me in this country because I know the name of these gods who live here

  1. N senet i Ntjer I did not blaspheme God
  2. I did not act with violence
  3. I have not been in a bad mood
  4. I have not been deaf to the words of truth
  5. I have not been talkative
  6. I did not tell lies
  7. I did not inspire fears
  8. I did not pollute waters
  9. I did not offend the king
  10. I have not been haughty
Hommes Somali Homme Kuba, RD Congo Jeune femme soudanaise
Somali men
Kuba man, DR Congo
A young Sudanese lady

Indj her tjen imyu ushet tjen net Maâty – Greetings to all of you present in this room of the two Maâts

N tu gerge – You who are exempt from lie

Ma tjen wi ii kwi her tjen – Here I am for you

Nen isfet i, nen hebent i, nen djut i, nen meteru i, nen ir n i het r ef – Without sins, without offences, without baseness, without any accuser, without anyone against whom I have raged.

Yu ir n i djedet remetj herut ntjeru her es – I did what the gods speak of, what they delighted at

Yu sehtep n i ntjer m merret ef – I satisfied the god (Usiré) through what he loves

Yu i redi n i t n heker – I gave bread to the starving

Mu n ib – Water to the thirsty

Hebes n hayu – Clothes to the one who was naked

Mehent n iwi – A boat to the one who did not have any

Nehem wi iref tjen hewi wi nen semi tjen r i m bah (ntjer aa) – Now save me, protect me, don’t make report against me in front of (this great god (Usiré))

Ink wab ra wab awi – My mouth is pure, my hands are pure

Femme pratiquante du Vodoun, Bénin Adolescents Zulu, Afrique du Sud
Woman practicing Vodun/Voodoo (Benin)
Zulu teenagers, South Africa

Hotep !

By : Lisapo ya Kama

Notes :

  • La philosophie africaine de la periode pharaonique (The African philosophy : the pharaonic period), Theophile Obenga
  • Hymnes et Prières kamites, Jean Philippe Omotunde