An erudite and emotional reflection in the middle of a long journey.
Updated: May 16
On Sunday, 21st August 2016, I performed one of my poems at Trafalgar Square in London in memory of my ancestors, those who came and went, so that I could be.
They would have come and gone unheralded, like most ancestors, simply mythical beings that have been handed down through the generations until they become grainy pictures in the mind or just footprints in a sandstorm. The ancestors who lived through the slavery years however fill me with a great sadness. The sadness comes from knowing that no matter what potential they had as they travelled the 9 months from conception to the birth canal, most of them would not be realised.
In the version of slavery adopted by the Europeans, the unborn child was also the property of the owner, which could have kept slavery going forever. From all I understand about slavery, the idea that a human being still attached to the umbilical cord of its mother is a slave is one of the most unbearable things I have ever come across. Before that child is born, before it takes the first suck of its mother’s teat, even before its conception, the potential of that child is enslaved. Think about that and imagine that it was your child.
I am a descendant of slaves. I am the result of slavery. Slavery across the Atlantic was the starting point in a new and perilous journey that nature made in my name a few hundred years ago. I am in the middle of that journey and the final destination is unknown.
Whether you believe in Nature, Yahweh, the Universe or whatever you think is worth worshipping, or giving praise to you must recognise that something fundamental started in 1441, when the European slave trade in Africa started. The Portuguese captains Antão Gonçalves and Nuno Tristão capture 12 Africans in Cabo Branco (modern Mauritania) and took them to Portugal as slaves.
In 1444: The Portuguese de Freitas lands 235 kidnapped and enslaved Africans in Lagos a city in Portugal, the first large group of African slaves brought to Europe. It is now becoming big business. This is some 50 years before Columbus stumbles across the Caribbean in his search for India.
Those realities that have made me, also denied the me, I ought to have been, from ever becoming real. That me, drifted off into a parallel universe where hopefully, I grew up in the love, security and traditions of the past thousands of years in the river beds, plains and valleys of West Africa.
The new me after all this time, will look you in the eye and proudly say, I was , I am and I will become again, what I was always intended to be.
This is part of my story and I give homage to my ancestors.
This poem is copyrighted and is a section of a much longer poem which continues the journey to the present day. It will be part of a new collection of poems to be published soon.
The Black Man Song
I Want To Tell You A Story
I Promise It Won’t Take Long
It's About A Tribe That Is Filled With Glory
It's Called The Black Man's Song
We..The People Of That Blessed Land
Were Stolen In Our Innocence
Taken..By An Unmerciful Hand
And Cut Off From Our Inheritance
We Had Our Native Culture
We Had Our Native Tongue
Suddenly There Was A Vulture
Forcing Us To Sing His Song
He Took Us In His Stinking Ship
Three Hundred At A Time
Our Incentive Was His Stinging Whip
Our Food Just Gruel And Lime
For Long Long Months..Imprisoned By The Seas
In The Bottom Of His Pit
No Recreation..Just His Histories
Us Tired..Dying..In Our Own Shit
More Than Half Passed Away On Those Rides
Too Sick..Forgetting To Be Proud
Bodies Thrown To The Ever Present Tide
While The Wailing Grew So Loud
While The Wailing…Grew…So Loud
They Must Always Be Remembered
They Will Not Die In Vain
Their Bodies..Now Dismembered
Must Illuminate Our Brain
If Willie Lynch existed, he would have said
“Slavery Is A Psychological Game
Where The Master Makes The Rule
Being Afraid To Die Is Just The Same
For Wise Men Or For Fools”
For Three Centuries We Helped The Master
All His Countries Became Great
Economically..They Could Not Grow Faster
The Blacks Just Grew Inanimate
In Jamaica "Mada Nanny and Cudjoe" Fought And Won
Very Small Victories
Tacky Took Over Where They’d Begun
Trying To Brighten, Our History
Left Isolated Up In The Hills
The Rebellion Could Not..And Did Not..Spread
The Master Sat There Counting His Kills
Got Another Boat Load Of "Niggers" For More Bread
Our Women Took The Brunt
Of The Master's Attack
They Were Not Important
Even Less..Could They Fight Back
Self Respect And Dignity Drained
Through Fear They Were Totally Hypnotised
And The Master's Will Was Maintained
Men Seeding Children For Three Hundred Years
Painfully Discharged From Responsibility
Whipped..Flogged..And Killed..The Scars They Bear
To Remind Us Of Their Sensitivity
We Say That Uncle Toms Were Nought
Paradoxically..They Saved Our Race
Outgunned..Outmanouvered..And Out Thought
They Kept Us From Our Final Resting Place
All Our Heroes Fought And Died
Too Proud To Toe The Line
Too Impatient To Wait For The Turned Tide
Survivors..? No. Heroes..Fine.
Slowly The Tide Began To Turn
Toussaint L'Overture Beat The French
Slavery Economics Was Now Being Spurned
The Europeans Couldn't Take The Stench
In 1838, We Thought We'd Come To The End Of The War
But It Was Only An Interlude
They Gave Us Our Freedom..Then Charged Us A Star
Just For Water And For Food
And Maya Angelou Cries
And Still We Rise
And My Heart, My Soul, My Spirit Replies
My Father Is The Great God Osiris
And I lived In The Delta Of The Nile
I Was Sent Here To Learn Peace And Forgiveness
And These Lessons Are Taking A While
So…We Take Our Pain And Go Forward
New Horizons Are Ahead..
They’re Not Too Far
Keep Remembering Our Past..
Remember Every Word
Let’s Never Ever Forget ..
Exactly Who We Are.