Written by Lydia Karamura
As I have thought of black history month, I have reflected on my experience as a black woman both in the work place and in the social settings I have found myself in. I observed that being black the assumption is that I come from Africa which is true and then guesswork begins as to which part of Africa in view of my accent. I have found that many people I have met out of the work place assume one is Caribbean until I explained the difference in history and how Africans come to be here.
After a while, the brave ones then ask when you learnt English as they state “you speak good English”. This has led me to reflect on how I was taught English and the books I read as a child.
Growing up there was a wealth of African writers literature in our home library thanks to Longman, Drumbeat, Fontana’s African writers series and Oxford three crowns publishers (who did a lot of the African writer publishing).
One of the games we played with my siblings was to try and create prose with the different titles we had in the library as this sometimes on a wet Sunday afternoon when you were supposed to be doing school homework was a fun activity.
I therefore undertook to repeat the same and I hereby challenge all Africans reading this to try and identify as many titles as you can and if you have never read African writers, a good way to find good titles is to start with those. African writers wrote along themes of the turbulence of colonisation and independence and nurtured a lot of my understanding of world history both colonial and post-colonial Africa.
Here we go a prose by me:
Of my father, he was a Man of the people, one man one wife not blessed the only son and in the second round had the minister’s daughter by the oracles who said “she will be a child of two worlds, in the hour of signs, this child will be great”.
To this my father said, “From the invisible man, a child in the castle of my skin, the January child. A cowrie of hope to come from the house of hunger, land without thunder where the grass is singing and there is dew in the morning”.
This child will grow in the land without the shadows, with the smoke that thunders amidst violence, silent voices, learn the Marabi dance, be a blade among the boys, breath the jazz and brass, the drummer in our time and through the thousand seasons when your clouds gather, with the return of the water spirit will moan, “this earth my brother”.
From my father an ordinary man, I heard the voice “everyman is a race”. “Efuru, through the seasons of anomy and anthills of the savannah, in the seasons of migration to the north, wrestling with the devil, along the narrow path, there will be petals of blood and no easy task”.
As a woman in her prime, you will encounter the wretched of the earth, one man one matchet, through flowers and shadows, encounter wounding word and loyalties lost. They will say “our sister killjoy”. You will be a rebel through the stone country, over three stone rocks with the river between. It will be no easy walk to freedom and when things fall apart and you are no longer at ease, I say “weep not Child, it’s not yet UHURU and the beautiful ones are not yet born”.
You daughter of the concubine will have dreams in times of war, will be a warrior queen with the will to die. Will the hold the quill who can, a naked needle to the burning grass and a tongue of the dumb.
But on the day of the thirteenth sun, when they’ve killed the mangy dog, will arrive the perfect nine, a homecoming, creating a question of power.
The interpreters, the healers, mine boys, houseboys, Obi with a wreath of maidens will arrive from Robben Island. There will be a homecoming, aride on the whirlpool, going down the river road through a bend in the river past the mission to Kala, travelling the journey within, bearing Amadau’s bundle telling a squatters tale. The housemaid, the girl from abroad saying “Oh, why are we so blest”.
Oh, the enigma of arrival! There will be a shattering of the silence, to hear the chattering wagtails of Mukoyo prison, and of chameleons and children, INDEPENDENCE.
Oh my daughter, in a few days and nights, hearts among ourselves will say the joy of seasons end, the will drop the double yoke, the bride price is paid, no more half a life we are in a free state. Hope like a grain of wheat to the old man and the medal will cry out, “beware soul brother” beyond the horizon and towards the mountain we tell freedom.
This homeland, AFRICA motherland, it’s a land of joy where the songs of Lawino, song of Okot speak of transition from trodden to the Lion and the jewel you are. Oh, Beloved Country you will be great again.