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C. Highsmith Hooks

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I Know Nothing of Africa
by C. Highsmith Hooks

Saturday, December 07, 2002

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Recent poems by C. Highsmith Hooks
•  No Love
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           >> View all 8

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.
Itís like I have been here-like Iím 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.
The instant my feet touch the soil of the
Motherland,
my soul rejoices and it all becomes clear:
THIS is where I belong. THIS is where I began.

I am greeted by strong, powerful Kings
and beautiful, Nubian Queens in colorful clothing.
One of them looks like my grandmother.
She nods when she sees me.
While in Senegal, I make the pilgrimage to Goree Island.
I want to open my mind to the past;
I have to know about it.
Almost immediately, 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, Cape Coast and Fort
Coromantine,
the slave fortresses by the sea.
I kneel in reverence, for I am suddenly 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-they choke off my air.

The wails and cries of the children pierce my heart,
for I am a mother and their children are my own.
The sounds and intonations of rebellious slave
voices fill my ears.
My possessed tongue begins to vibrate.
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!
They catch me; I feel the lash of their whip.
My flesh is exposed and my back brutally scarred;
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 embe dded 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.


© 2000 C. Highsmith-Hooks

The Soul of a Black Woman

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Reviewed by C. Highsmith Hooks 2/28/2010
I wrote this over TEN years ago, and it still touches me. Thank you al for reading and cvommenting on my work!
Reviewed by Afrika Abney 12/11/2002
I love this piece being that that Afrika with a K spelled is my name and I love the flow of this piece Sista, great write. Shine on.

Ashawarrior
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 12/8/2002
here's another person to whom africa is calling! i want to go, too! i want to visit namibia, tanzania, and kenya, and i want to see the maasai and see the african wildlife in their natural habitat (especially the cheetahs; i LOVE cheetahs!)! thanks for sharing! love, your friend, karen lynn. ((((HUGS)))) :)
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 12/8/2002
WOW...i know nothing of africa, except for what i read in books or see on t.v. ...africa calls me, too...i hope to visit namibia, tanzania and kenya...the ending, "africa cannot be separated from me/nor i from her, for we are one--" really jumped out and grabbed me. YES!!!! :) (((HUGS))) and love, karla. :)
Reviewed by john zimmerman 12/7/2002
wow --please excuse the understatement -- but, wow --j+
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