Letter home from slavery-The Ekaaro movement
E kaaro o
L a nKira wa
E maa je mi
E kaaro o
E maa je mi.
Te ba gbede mi!!!
Is how we salute the morning
Please answer me
People of our land
Please answer me
If my tongue
Speaks to your ears!!!
How it all Began
By the time any group of Africans arrived in Ilu Oyinbo, not one of them could speak the language of the other. First in Badagry and then in Goree in Senegal, the populations were so mixed and mashed together that the Oyinbo Man was the only speaker our people looked up to. Then through England and then arrival in America, there was nobody who could speak any African tongue. Our leaders had to reverse the process. There were documents. We secured these and traced back the arrivals. Once we traced one person, the rest was easy. Ekaaro was the greetings on arrival. It would go round the plantations: the Ekaaro people are around, come and see them tomorrow night. It was always tomorrow night and that also became an alternative name for them.
It was not difficult to find people going home, even people who had died and were being buried.
The suffering, which we suffer on the way here, is too even three much. The voyage takes months during which time even animals being taken to market to sell and slaughter are better treated. It is during this time and space that we lose our names, our language and our praise names. For who could give praise names to things like us? Please, if any of your relatives takes part in catching us and selling us to the white men, tell them we curse them day and night from generation to generation to the time. No human being should be subjected to these sufferings. If any of us passes on as we pass on to their land we are tossed into the foaming ocean to find our way back to Guinee. We sing that the same team of fishes will eat us and shit us near enough to Africa to say we are back home again.
It is true those at home selling us to our buyers will never know the suffer; we suffer on arrival worse than animals for sale. No language has evolved to express this kind of suffering. Mere listing of them, itemizing them and numbering them does not assuage the suffering. The human degradation of the market place. We pray in the language of our captors for the market place process to pass quickly so that we can arrive finally to the place of our eternal, suffering, the hell that would be the living of our miserable existence.
Here, whether it be the sugarcane field with the sharp blades of a thousand lacerating our skin and tormenting the open wounds with sultry sweat. Or the cotton field bent double all day, cursing our lives to pass on to those who sold us and those who bought us and those who supervised our portion of earth. From five am to twelve midnight, with only five hours of rest, food, and some private hour to ourselves when the process must begin again. Grim was the day before, grimmer yesterday and today, grimmest?
Over time, from generation to generation human storage of suffering accumulates tricks with which the poor oppressed torment their torturers. There was the one of packing the hole with broken glass. With the first plunge that prick was gone. Of course, such a brave female would never see daylight again. But the joy of hearing that agony of pain was pleasure enough!
Or work in the house, a twenty-four hour hell on earth. Your body, whichever remained for you is owned by the master, and the madam and the little master and the little mistress. Orders left and right, from all directions every minute of the day and the night. Blackie, you haven’t done this, undone that, redone the other one, don’t just stand there looking sheepishly at the world?!
What about the menace of wife and husband, lesbian and straight? May the pestilence of the end of the world catch the seller of slaves and the buyers too.
All over North America and the Caribbean cries went out that slavery be abolished. Everywhere but at home nobody wanted it ended. Those white men who began the evil trade had to now force our people to let go their own people go! Our people loved catching slaves but the white people say they are tired. They wanted paid slaves, people they could own body and soul because they pay them. Could they keep the slaves and pay them from today go? No, what if they ask for back pay? In the North American English colonies, those of South opted for continuation of slavery while those of the North said no, let these fellows go back to Africa but nobody was ready to get them back by providing the means of transport. So, they stayed, against their will. You can swim back to Africa, as far as we are concerned but you have no place here as far as we are concerned except as slaves. We stay as man to man, Blackman to white man equally entitled here on this earth which our sweat has watered into wealth for others.
When agitation broke out and the statues erected to Slave buyers and slave users were being pulled down in the Americas, they were asked “What about Madam Tinubu’s statue in Tinubu Square in Lagos Nigeria? Will you not pull it down and toss it into the Marina where its likes were destined to rest eternally in their watery graves?”
They hemmed and hawed and wouldn’t say what to do with the statue to an admired enslaver of her own people. Nothing speaks more eloquently that the curse of the enslaved will remain on those who sold fellow Africans into slavery across the seas and across the Sahara. That is as long as they refuse to regret their action and seek forgiveness from their fellow blacks of the diaspora. They can begin by giving back their citizenship of African countries. And pulling down the statues set up to immortalise their oppressors.
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