Posts Tagged ‘SLAVERY’
Lupita Nyong’o Delivers Moving Speech About How She Learned To Love The Color Of Her Skin
The Oscar nominated actress spoke candidly in her Black Women in Hollywood acceptance speech about her struggle to understand her own beauty.
posted on February 28, 2014 at 12:58
Yesterday, Lupita Nyong’o won the Essence Magazine Black Women In Hollywood Breakthrough Performance Award.
And while she has fast become one of the most idolized women on the red carpet in years…Lupita told the audience that she has not always felt that comfortable with the color of her skin.
Here is the full transcript of her beautifully honest speech.
￼I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.
I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.
And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then Alek Wek came on the international scene. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for light skin prevailed, to the beholders that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.
And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside, that there is no shade in that beauty.￼
Confirmed: Lupita could not be more beautiful.
MALCOLM X ON”GOING BACK TO AFRICA”-FROM MALCOLM X SPEAKS-WE CAN EITHER GO BACK TO AFRICA OR BECOME CULTURALLY AFRICAN WHILE IN AMERIKKKA BUT BE TOTALLY LIBERATED FROM BEING 21ST CENTURY SLAVES AS WE ARE NOW IN AMERIKKKA!May 6, 2011
Friday, May 06, 2011
MALCOLM X ON “GOING BACK TO AFRICA”-FROM MALCOLM X SPEAKS-WE CAN EITHER GO BACK TO AFRICA OR BECOME AFRICANS CULTURALLY IN AMERIKKKA AND DEVELOP STRONG LINKS WITH THE MOTHERLAND IN THE PROCESS!
ON GOING BACK TO AFRICA- MALCOLM X’S COMMENTS TO A QUESTION AT A HARYOU-ACT FORUM FOR DOMESTIC PEACE CORPS MEMBERS,HARLEM,DEC. 12,1964
MALCOLM WAS ASKED HOW HE THOUGHT AFRO AMERICANS WOULD BE RECEIVED BY THE AFRICANS IF THEY SHOULD GO BACK TO AFRICA.
Malcolm : After lengthy discussions with many Africans at all levels, I would say some would be welcome and some wouldn’t be welcome. Those that have a contribution to make would be welcome,but those that have no contribution to make would not be welcome\;I don’t think any of us, if we look at it objectively could find fault with that.
And I believe this, that if we migrated back to Africa culturally, philosopically and psychologically, while remaining here physically, the spiritual bond that would develop between us and Africa through this cultural, philosophical and psychological migration, so-called migration would enhance our position here, because we would have our contacts with them acting as roots or foundations behind us. You never will have a foundation in America.You’re out of your mind if you think that this government is ever going to back you and me up in the same way they back others up. They’ll never do it,It’s not in them.
AS an example take the Chinese. You asked me about Red China. The Chinese used to be disrespected.They used to use that expression in this country:”You don’t have a chinaman’s chance”. You remember that? You don’t hear it lately. Because a Chinaman’s got more chances now. Why? Because China is strong. Since China became strong and independent, she’s respected, and she’s recognized. So that wherever a Chinese person goes, he is respected and recognized because of what he as an individual has done;he is respected and recognized because he has a country behind him,a continent behind him. He has some power behind him. They don’t respect him but respect what’s behind him.
By the same token, when the African continent in its independence is able to create the unity that’s necessary to increase its strength and its position on this earth, so that Africa too becomes respected as other huge continents are respected,then wherever people of African origin ,African heritage or African blood go,they will be respected-but only when and because they have something larger that looks like them behind them. With that behind you,you will get some respect. Without it behind you you can do almost anything under the sun in this society-pass any kind of law that Washington can think of-and you and I will still be trying to get them to enforce that law. We’ll be like that Chinaman (about whom they used to say “He doesn’t have a Chinaman’s chance”.Now you don’t have a Negro’s chance. But with African getting its independence, you and I will have more of a chance.I believe in that 100 per cent.
And this is what I mean by a migration or going back to Africa -going back in the sense that we reach out to them and they reach out to us. Our mutual understanding and our mutual effort toward a mutual objective will bring mutual benefit to the African as well as to the Afro-American. But you will never get it just relaying on uncle sam alone. You are looking to the wrong direction. Because the wrong people are in Washington D.C. and I mean from the White House right on down. I hope I don’t step on anybody’s toes by saying that I didn”t vote for him so I can say it.
Here is another little known Black History Fact. This information is in the African American Archives at the Smithsonian Institute. Although not taught in American learning institutions and literature, it is in most Black history professional circles and literature that the origin of the term: ‘picnic’ derives from the acts of lynching African-Americans.
The word: ‘picnic’ is rooted from the whole theme of: ‘Pick A Nigger’.
This is where individuals would: ‘pic’ a Black person to lynch… and make this into: a family gathering…. There would be music and a: ‘picnic’. (‘Nic’ being the white acronym for: ‘nigger’). Scenes of this were in the movie Rosewood. The black producers and writers should have chosen to use the word ‘barbecue’ or ‘outing’ instead of the word ‘picnic’.
To attempt to tie lynchings to family outings, where food was served, is to misunderstand the real nature of these events. Rather, they were outbreaks of mass white hysteria, and attempts by groups of Whites to terrorize and brutalize the entire Black communities where they occurred.
Often, they were motivated by alleged acts of violence by Blacks against Whites, alleged disrespect and other breaches of Southern racial ‘etiquette’, and on many occasions, victims were chosen at random. Although women and children were frequently present, it is more accurate to view these events as collective psychotic behavior, rather than family outings. Lynching had become a ritual of interracial social control and recreation rather than simply a punishment for crime.
MALCOLM X SAID IT IN 1964-WE ARE NOT AMERIKKKANS BLACK PEOPLE, WE ARE VICTIMS OF AMERICA AND STILL IN THE AGE OF OBAMA THIS IS STILL TRUE MORE THAN EVER!- GET BACK TO YOUR TRUE BLACK SELVES- STOP BEING 21ST CENTURY SLAVES IN AMERIKKKA AND GET BACK TO AFRICA- CULTURALLY,MORALLY,AND FINALLY PHYSICALLY IF YOU WANT TO BE TRULY FREE-AS YOU CAN NEVER BE EXCEPT IN THE BLACK MAN’S LAND!April 25, 2011
Malcolm X Speech in Ghana
Posted by Auron Renius on Thursday, December 23, 2010 Under: Speeches
Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister famous for his outspoken stile of public speaking on civil rights. Always controversial, many saw him as a hero who courageously fought against the crimes of white America against African Americans, while others saw him as an advocate of racism, black supremacy and violence. This is an excerpt from a speech given by Malcolm X on the 13th May, 1964 at the University of Ghana;
I intend for my talk to be very informal, because our position in America is an informal position, [Laughter] and I find that it is very difficult to use formal terms to describe a very informal position. No condition of any people on earth is more deplorable than the condition, or plight, of the twenty-two million Black people in America. And our condition is so deplorable because we are in a country that professes to be a democracy and professes to be striving to give justice and freedom and equality to everyone who is born under its constitution.
If we were born in South Africa or in Angola or some part of this earth where they don’t profess to be for freedom, that would be another thing; but when we are born in a country that stands up and represents itself as the leader of the Free World, and you still have to beg and crawl just to get a chance to drink a cup of coffee, then the condition is very deplorable indeed.
‘A victim of Americanism’
So tonight, so that you will understand me and why I speak as I do, it should probably be pointed out at the outset that I am not a politician. I don’t know anything about politics. I’m from America but I’m not an American. I didn’t go there of my own free choice. [Applause] If I were an American there would be no problem, there’d be no need for legislation or civil rights or anything else.
So I just try to face the fact as it actually is and come to this meeting as one of the victims of America, one of the victims of Americanism, one of the victims of democracy, one of the victims of a very hypocritical system that is going all over this earth today representing itself as being qualified to tell other people how to run their country when they can’t get the dirty things that are going on in their own country straightened out. [Applause]
So if someone else from America comes to you to speak, they’re probably speaking as Americans, and they speak as people who see America through the eyes of an American. And usually those types of persons refer to America, or that which exists in America, as the American Dream. But for the twenty million of us in America who are of African descent, it is not an American dream; it’s an American nightmare. [Laughter]
I don’t feel that I am a visitor in Ghana or in any part of Africa. I feel that I am at home. I’ve been away for four hundred years, [Laughter] but not of my own volition, not of my own will. Our people didn’t go to America on the Queen Mary, we didn’t go by Pan American, and we didn’t go to America on the Mayflower. We went in slave ships, we went in chains. We weren’t immigrants to America, we were cargo for purposes of a system that was bent upon making a profit. So this is the category or level of which I speak. I may not speak it in the language many of you would use, but I think you will understand the meaning of my terms.
When I was in Ibadan [in Nigeria] at the University of Ibadan last Friday night, the students there gave me a new name, which I go for—meaning I like it. [Laughter] Omowale, which they say means in Yoruba—if I am pronouncing that correctly, and if I am not pronouncing it correctly it’s because I haven’t had a chance to pronounce it for four hundred years [Laughter]—which means in that dialect, The child has returned.
It was an honor for me to be referred to as a child who had sense enough to return to the land of his forefathers—to his fatherland and to his motherland. Not sent back here by the State Department, [Laughter] but come back here of my own free will. [Applause]
I am happy and I imagine, since it is the policy that whenever a Black man leaves America and travels in any part of Africa, or Asia, or Latin America and says things contrary to what the American propaganda machine turns out, usually he finds upon his return home that his passport is lifted. Well, if they had not wanted me to say the things I am saying, they should never have given me a passport in the first place. The policy usually is the lifting of the passport. Now I am not here to condemn America, I am not here to make America look bad, but I am here to tell you the truth about the situation that Black people in America find themselves confronted with. And if truth condemns America, then she stands condemned. [Applause]
This is the most beautiful continent that I’ve ever seen; it’s the richest continent I’ve ever seen, and strange as it may seem, I find many white Americans here smiling in the faces of our African brothers like they have been loving them all of the time. [Laughter and applause]
Thursday, March 24, 2011
BACK TO AFRICA! – THESE BLACK MAYORS/SISTER VANESSA WILLIAMS WEPT WHEN THE OBA(KING) WELCOMED THEM BACK HOME! -GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER,NIGERIA,FEB. 2011
Why Yoruba Obas Kept Vigil For Ooni In 1903
Sunday, 13 March 2011 00:00 By Tunde Akingbade/in Ile-Ife and Osogbo Sunday Magazine – Sunday Magazine
ITwas the day of historical facts. It was an evening of reminiscences. It turned out to be another occasion for flashbacks. And the spot was the palace of His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, the Aroole Oduduwa, progenitor of the Yoruba race.
Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, Provost, School of Humanities and Culture, Osun State University, Ikire campus and Chairman of 4th World Conference of Mayors went down historical lane. Oyeweso narrated how the great grandfathers of Oba Olubuse II and the institution of the Ooni was revered and feared as the spiritual head of Yoruba nation.
The story went thus; the Ooni was asked to come to Lagos in 1903 by the British Colonial government to testify in a case between the Akarigbo of Remo and Elepe. In those days, no one could look in the face of the Ooni. All Yoruba kings under his authority and who domiciled along the route the Ooni was to pass to Lagos moved out of their bases and they did not sleep until the Ooni returned to Ile-Ife.
The Ooni was feared as a spiritual head. Yoruba Obas had reasoned that what the colonial government demanded from the Ooni was an abomination. For him to leave his palace at Ife and journey to Lagos was unfathomable. A sacrilege!
As Prof. Oyeweso recalled the historical feat, Oba Olubuse II who sat in splendor on the throne, nodded. Then Oyeweso, threw another historical bombshell.
“Only Ede and Ibadan remain cities that developed from military settlements (Army) to state that has people and not state (People) to army!” he said.
That night a crowd of Mayors from all over the world had paid a courtesy visit to the Ooni in the course of the World Conference of Mayors, which took place in Osogbo. Oyeweso, the Chairman of the organising team for the conference, which was supported by the Federal Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Osun State Government, said, “he is a son of the palace because the former Timi of Ede was one of those who used to pay his school fees in those days. This appeared stunning to the Ooni. Oyeweso called himself the ‘son of the warlord’ — the Timi of Ede who was a warrior in those days. It was believed that the arrows of the Timi carried furnaces whenever he shot them. That has become the praise name of descendants of the town.
The professor said Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba race was not a kingdom but an empire. The Ooni of Ile-Ife then gave Prof. Oyeweso an assignment to find out if Ile-Ife, which existed about 8,000 years ago and 4,000 years before Abraham, the patriarch of Jews and Arabs was a Kingdom, Empire or what?
Earlier, Ms. Vanessa Williams, Executive Director of the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) thanked the Ooni for the warm reception and for his leadership and for being the king of all kings in Nigeria.
“I have had the opportunity to see the Presidents and Kings all over the world. I have never been so nervous as I have been tonight,” said Ms. Williams.
Robert Bowser, President of NCBM looked in her direction. Tears began to roll down her cheeks. Then she added; “we are happy to be back home. We thank you for preserving our history here.”
It was an emotional moment. The entire hall was in deep silence. Then the royal court’s praise singers interjected; Omi ki o! The King is greeting you! The Ooni beckoned on Ms. Williams to move closer to him. He then began to comfort her. The other visiting Mayors were also moved into tears. They were introduced one after the other.
More surprises were to come. Just as Ms. Williams introduced Dr. Jeffrey, one of the members of the American Mayors entourage, Oba Aderemi Adeniyi-Adedapo, the Olojudo-Alayemore of Ido-Osun, one of the Obas in the Kingdom exclaimed: “that’s my teacher!”
Oba Adeniyi-Adedapo called on Funlola Olorunnishola, the Media Advisor of the Ooni, Folusho Adedigba and Mr. Smollett Shittu-Alamu — members of the committee in charge of the visit to the palace to give him the microphone. Oba Adeniyi-Adedapo began to make some revelations.
The Oba told the gathering that Dr. Jeffrey was his teacher in the United States when he was studying for a degree in Architecture.
Said he; “Dr. Jeffrey, you will remember that I used to tell you in America that I am a prince in Africa. I am so overwhelmed tonight. I want to let you know that I am now a king under His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ile-Ife, Kabiyesi, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II”
Turning to the Ooni, Oba Adeniyi-Adedapo said: “these are the people who made me what I am when I was in America for 25years. Architecture was my major. Dr. Jeffrey gave us moral, financial support and everything when I was in America. He was a father figure to us.”
Looking in the direction of Dr. Jeffrey, the Oba said; “I cannot thank you enough. You are back home in Nigeria even though I am aware you are very close to Ghana. But this is your real home. The Ashantehene and the King of Accra know their father king is His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ile- Ife. You are welcome back home. I thank you and I thank America your country for harbouring me for 25years. I went there with nothing and I came back home as an Architect and I am so proud of that country. God bless America, God bless the black race, God bless Ooni and God bless Nigeria!”
The Ooni later told the visitors that the population of those who claim ancestry to Yoruba race is about 240 million. They are found in Nigeria, USA, the Caribbean, Haiti, Venezuela, Argentina etc. He said even though in a place like Argentina, you have predominantly white people, a large percentage became white because of years of inter marriage.
The Ooni noted that there are several countries outside the USA where blacks also rule like President Barak Obama.
Earlier, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Governor of Osun State said at the opening ceremony that urbanisation in Nigeria had brought municipal challenges like insecurity, housing, food, transportation, health care provision, education, jobs, waste disposal and social welfare.
“While the development countries still grapple with these problems, the situation in developing countries can be worse”, said Aregbesola.
At the closing ceremony of the one-week event Mr. Robert Bowser, President of National Conference of Black Mayors, Atlanta, said that it was a great opportunity for the Mayors to be present in Osun State. Bowser said the Mayors had seen Osun State and they had also seen the challenges the people face in the area of health, waste management, sanitation, infrastructure, education etc. He called on the state government to involve them in schemes to tackle some of the problems facing the state.
A Feast of Return, a dance drama written and produced by the poet, Odia Ofeimun, was performed at the event with other cultural dances. Present at the event were many traditional rulers in Osun State including Oba Oladele Olashore, the Aloko of Iloko-Ijesha; Oba Dokun Abolurin, the Oragun of Oke-Ila, Oba Rasheed Olasubomi, the Aragbiji of Iragbiji.
Posted by YEYE AKILIMALI FUNUA OLADE at 7:11 AM Comments (0)
Labels: AFRICA, AFRICAN AMERICANS, ANCESTRY, BACK TO AFRICA, BLACK CHILDREN, BLACK MEN, BLACK PEOPLE, BLACK WOMAN, BLACKS IN AMERIKKKA, NIGERIA, THE BLACK RACE
BACK TO AFRICA!-PRISCILLA GOES BACK EVEN AFTER DEATH AND HER RELATIVES TAKE HER-BACK TO SIERRA LEONE!January 5, 2011
this copy from-yeyeolade.blogspot.com
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
BACK TO AFRICA!- PRISCILLA RETURNED EVEN AFTER DEATH FROM THE SLAVE FIELDS OF AMERIKKKA TO HER COUNTRY SIERRA LEONE!
A ‘Priscilla’s Homecoming’ Journal
A week with ‘Priscilla’s Posse’
By Jeanine Talley
Antawn and Thomalind PoliteAntawn and Thomalind Polite
I spent a week in early summer 2005 with Priscilla’s descendant, Thomalind Martin Polite, her husband, Antawn, and an entourage of about twenty other Americans (and one woman from Britain) touring and experiencing the spirit and welcome of the “lion mountain” country of Sierra Leone. The small nation rests on the curve of Africa’s west coast, encompassing the continent’s farthest western point and its largest natural harbor. Its capital, Freetown, with a population of 1.2 million, rests just outside that harbor.
Freetown was founded in the late 1700s by a group of newly freed slaves who fought on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War. These black soldiers came mostly from South Carolina and Virginia plantations. At first the British evacuated them to Canada but later decided to return the Africans to their homeland. A large, ancient cotton tree in Freetown is said to have started life when these settlers first arrived and remains a source of pride and nationalism to this day. Sierra Leone continued to exist as a British colony for another 169 years until it gained independence in 1961.
Who is Pricilla?
As the last notes of the uniquely composed narrative song written and performed by the Freetong Players, a local a cappella group, drifted through the large meeting room, the speechless crowd scarcely knew how to respond to such an emotional musical experience. Only a few moments ago, I watched Polite’s face shake with emotion as the song’s words embraced her almost as if the spirit of Priscilla was sitting in that very room. For the audience, it was an incredible, euphoric moment. Priscilla was a child of strength, resilience and determination; and after years of living in a foreign land, her descendant had brought her spirit home.
But Polite experienced an extra surprise. As JMU professor Joe Opala later said, “It wasn’t until that night at the embassy [when] the Freetong Players performed, singing [Priscilla’s] story, [that Polite] really believed that they were welcoming her home [too].” So the event honored not only the ancestor who was kidnapped from her land so many years ago but also the living descendant who, too, was returning home.
A traditional dance A traditional dance
Our seven days spent as “Priscilla’s Posse” included a full schedule of meetings with Sierra Leone’s president, vice president and other high ranking governmental officials; presentations at the American Embassy and National Museum; theatrical performances at Fourah Bay College; boat trips to a traditional Susu village and slave castle; and a reception at the American ambassador’s residence.
It is not possible to describe all of the details or accurately capture the awe we felt during our visit. We witnessed hundreds of Susu village dancers and musicians compete for Polite’s attention and recognition in a Yeliba performance; we sang “Amazing Grace” to the beat of African drums during an early morning service honoring women (Polite included) in the Star by the Sea Catholic Church; and we laughed with Sierra Leone’s president when he joked that it may take parliament a while to “pass the paperwork,” after offering Thomalind and Antawn Polite dual citizenship to his country.
Nothing compares to the chartered bus ride through the country as children screamed “Priscilla! Priscilla!” and slapped the vehicle’s sides if they were close enough or to the experience of standing on the last piece of land where thousands of captured Africans last touched their beloved home. We finally understood the strength that the 10-year–old Priscilla must have had to withstand every imaginable obstacle and return home after 249 years.
Meeting Sierra Leone’s president
The Polites sat close together on a stiff, overstuffed couch; Antawn’s large frame seemed uncomfortable in his suit jacket and tie while Thomalind, looking even more petite when next to her husband, sat quietly in a black suit dress accented by a giant pearl necklace and bracelet. She absentmindedly occupied her restless hands by patting down her already perfectly set hair. It was obvious that she, too, was nervous. Or perhaps it was some kind of anxious expectancy, an emotion similar to that Priscilla must have felt when she finally reached her new home in the ‘Land Across the Big Water’ –– an experience completely new in every sense of the word.
But on this day the Polites were not starting an entire new life in a land unknown to them, they were waiting to meet the president of Sierra Leone. President Kabbah must have sensed their nervousness because as soon as he spoke he put everyone at ease with his laughter, wit and charm. The Polites were presented gifts of traditional clothing, jewelry and handicrafts and thanks from the amazing country that welcomed them. They immediately eased back into their seats and the atmosphere returned to what it had been all week –– that of comfort and family.
Abandoned slave castleAbandoned slave castle
To a small crowd of American and African journalists, the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, and a few Sierra Leoneans from the neighboring islands, Opala described the slave castle as it would have looked in its prime operational years –– gravel walkways; 40–foot high fortress walls; iron cannons wth the crest of the king of England; offices, workshops, and storeroom providing space for the guns, cotton cloth and rum offered in exchange for slaves; and strong rooms to keep the gold and ivory bought from the Africans.
This place was indeed a “bizarre, inhumane juxtaposition of a rich man’s estate, prison and fortress” said Opala. Although a small space physically, it housed a huge Georgian–style two–story home, complete with a fireplace that was never used because of the region’s tropical heat and an upper level veranda where the commander of the castle could entertain guests. Directly behind the house were the slave yards. The prison’s enclosed spaces were divided –– men were in the wider, larger yard, and women and children were in the smaller, cramped one.
The African sun beat down, and the high prison walls and the towering “factory house” cut off the river’s breeze. The suffocating heat made the space feel smaller than it already was. “Overcrowded” could not justifiably describe these yards where crowds of people suffered.
Walking around the small fortress, one felt a depressing weight at the thought of such a misuse of land and resources. Awe for the obvious human ingenuity in creating such a magnificent physical space gave way to massive disappointment and rage for its purpose.
Polite was overwhelmed; her face reflected pain, sorrow and horror as the tortures the captive Africans would endure were described. She said that standing on Bunce Island was “the most incredible moment” of the entire trip. Despite the sadness and the history, or maybe because of them, she felt nearer to her great, great, great, great, great–grandmother than at any other time during the homecoming. “Just knowing that Priscilla was there 249 years ago, and there I was standing on the same ground made the cycle complete.”
Traveling with Priscilla’s Posse, indeed being in Africa itself, was one of the most privileged experiences I’ve ever had. It was more than a historical trip back to slavery times, and it was more than time spent honoring a determined survivor of the era. Priscilla’s Homecoming was the kind of welcome home many black Americans can only dream about. It embraced not only Thomalind Polite but also everyone else setting foot on the country’s white beaches and invited them to stay awhile so that they might hear the story of the many children whom Sierra Leone, “Mama Salone,” lost and those who have returned.
About the Author
Jeanine “Nina” Talley, daughter of JMU professor Cheryl Talley, worked with the JMU Honors Program and Furious Flower Poetry Center. She now lives in San Francisco, where she is a research and administrative assistant at the National Senior Citizens Law Center, Oakland Branch, located in downtown Oakland, Ca.