I Know Nothing of Africa

by C. Highsmith-Hooks

I know nothing of Africa except what I have read in books and seen on television.
Yet as I descend upon the city of Dakar, my belly burns with an eerie sense of familiarity.
Like I have been here-like I'm coming home.
Africa spreads her arms wide; she welcomes me like a mother.
In the distance I hear drums- instinctively I rise and begin to dance.
I am greeted by Strong, Powerful Kings and Beautiful, Nubian Queens in colorful clothing.
One of them looks like my grandmother.
While in Senegal, I make the pilgrimage to Goree Island. 
In the hold of the ship, I envision the chains and smell the putrid odor of mass captivity.
My stomach violently erupts like a restless volcano.
Near Sierra Leone, I am mysteriously drawn to Lomboko, 
where the Gallinas River feeds into the bloodthirsty Atlantic.
As I imagine my kidnapped ancestors for sale in this dungeon marketplace,
it is too overwhelming-I cry oceans of tears.
In Accra, I go to Elmina and Fort Coromantine, the slave fortresses by the sea.
I kneel in reverence, for I am immediately humbled by the presence and tenacity 
of those who have gone before me: chained, shackled, herded onto slave ships.
I have aroused their fertile spirits and now they surround me.
The wails and cries of the children pierce my heart, for their children are my own.
The sounds and intonations of rebellious slave voices fill my ears.
My possessed tongue begins to vibrate and I form words-
First in Temne, then Serer, Swahili, Mende, Fula, Mandinka, Yoruba, Ga and Igbo.
I am transformed into Banta Fali, a young maiden on one of the ships.
I want to jump overboard-I will NOT be a slave! It would be better to die!
I feel the lash of their whip; I  quickly lose consciousness.
When I awaken, many moons have passed and I am in America- 
Still in chains, still a slave. Was it all just a dream?
I know nothing of Africa.....Except that it is in my blood, my bones, my soul.
She is deeply embedded and eternally rooted into every fiber of my African being.
From the blackness of my skin to the toughness of my spirit, 
Africa cannot be separated from me, nor I from her, for we are one........
THAT is what I know of Africa.						      

I Know Nothing of Africa by C. Highsmith-Hooks

© Copyright 2000. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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