October 28, 2008...I reached my 39th revolution around the sun...SMILE
My biggest birthday present was a trip to Atlanta to participate in a Haitian Voodoo ceremony in which a friend of mine "married" the loa Erzulie Dantor
Invigorating...in spite of the fact that my ever swelling womb caused me to sleep through the last half of the singing and dancing..SMILE
I was awakened to what I call 'real' life at 17 by the voice of Bob Marley...while visiting my sister I was introduced to him through the Exodus album, it had been borrowed from her Nigerian boyfriend
My mind was opened by the meaningfulness of the lyrics and the truth of what he was saying rang true...I was captured and sought to know more
One song in particular-"So Much Things To Say"- held my mind, the lines
'I'll never forget no way they crucified Jesus Christ
I'll never forget no way they sold Marcus Garvey for rice
I'll never forget no way they turned their backs on Paul Bogel (?)
And don't you forget no you who you are and where you stand in the struggle'
I asked my mother, the most learned person I knew, who Marcus Garvey was and she wasn't sure and said I should seek answers at my local library
The library where I lived, Columbia TN had absolutely NO information on Marcus Garvey and now that I think back...it is amazing that my mother had not heard of him...having grown up in Cleveland OH during the time period not long after his heyday....hmmm curious????
Anyway...as I write about it...I see that my mother raised us in a manner that was revolutionary for Black children...when the US was at war with Libya she called us to the television and said look at Qaddafi, he looks like you and I, she took us the globe and showed us that Libya was in Afrika and said they are fighting Black people, people that look like us and are from the same place that we are from...when the MOVE headquarters in Philly were bombed she awakened us before daybreak in the morning and said the only reason they bombed these people is because these people were led by a Black man, there is no other reason, these people were not doing anything wrong, they were not hurting anyone, their crime was being Black and she made us watch the entire newcast as we dressed for school
She taught us that were not Americans, but were members of a Master Race who had been able to survive the rigors of slavery, the middle passage and racist America
She taught us that ancient KMTic/Egyptian civilization was a BLACK civilization and that Egypt was in Afrika our homeland
So I suppose I was building upon what I was taught to be moved so deeply by the words of Bob Marley and when I was lucky enough to find a little bit of information on him in my school library I was uplifted and transformed by the platform and vision of Marcus Garvey , the UNIA and the Black Star Line
For the remainder of my senior year I listened to little else than Bob Marley to the extent that my mother asked me to please stop playing it over and over because it sounded like folks beating on garbarge cans-I didn't learn until later that she was actually accurate in her description of steel drums...LOL...kind of
I entered into the hallowed halls of Fisk University elated with the prospect of being able to learn more about my people....and my Alma Mater delivered...I was inundated with the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, the visually revolutionary art of the 60's and 70's and an education style that primed FISKITES to be the next Black leaders...we were reminded in every class that it was the Black man's time to rule and that we must be prepared to step up and take the mantle of leadership upon graduation...all art classes began with Afrikan art and then moved forward into classical European and then into Black art forms such as Jazz and blues...humanist thought classes and political science classes challenged us to form new world views and new spiritual views...I was being groomed and molded daily hourly...not to mention the sheer joy of being around ALL BLACK folx all the time...our vibration was so beautiful, so creative, so powerful
By the time I came home for the summer and refused to be ignored until all the whitefolx behind me had been serviced in line at our local dept store...and expected cars and trucks to stop if I was in the crosswalk whether their drivers were black or white...and was vocal about these racists acts...my mother feared for my life and second guessed her decision to send me to a black school
And so on and so on...fast forward to the summer before my Junior year and my boyfriends friend was making all types of changes in his life and attributed them to one book which he said we HAD to read...he loaned me his copy and I devoured every word...THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X!...the summer was 1989, it was the tail end of the Tawana Brawley scandal and Public Enemy was admonishing us to Fight the Power, Spike Lee asked us to Do The Right Thing AND all around we were sporting afrikan medallions, dashikis and baby dreds...we were reviving the revolution of Black Liberation that our parents had left behind and we were LOVING it...within this climate, I conceieved my first child....SMILE
I was RIPE in every way by the time I found out I was pregnant...I was growing out my natural, seeking ways to study Islam, and looking for an Afrikan name to be known by...I was an active member of our Black Liberation group on campus "The Conscious Party"...I felt happy and free and meaningful...I told my mother I was pregnant and that I was keeeping the child and giving it an Afrikan name and raising it as Muslim...my mother, who had raised me to be such a free and proud Black thinker...was appalled at my these child rearing choices...it was the first of many philosophical rifts in our relationship
In May of 1990 on the day the world had mourned Bob Marley 9 years earlier my daughter was born
Nailah Imani...our first outing...Louis Farrakhan's speech in Birmingham AL!!!!!!
I studied with the NOI in earnest for the next 2 or 3 years...during which time I also had another daughter...Kamilah Laini...married and divorced their physically abusive father...and returned to Fisk to complete my bachelors degree after a two year hiatus
By the time I got back to Fisk...I didnt do it if it wasnt Black, didnt talk about it if it wasnt revolutionary, didnt participate in it if it wasnt about the downfall of the wicked ass system! I had expanded my hero base to included Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and Dedan Kimathi and the Kenyan Land Freedom Army...I wrapped my head in Afrikan cloth, clothed my body in baggy blue jeans and Fisk sweatshirts and wore combat boots...always ready in case The Revolution should begin...chanting the lyrics of X Clan at all times like a mantra
I took the last electives I needed to graduate among them...classes called Revolutionary Black Movements, Malcom X the Icon, The Black Experience in Religion and Afrikan history I and II...my professors all of them white except one...taught me that my Ancestors all over the world had been fighting against oppression since the first Arab enslaved us way back in the 13th century...and that we had won that fight in the 60's and 70's with the independence from the colonial powers and the regaining of our lands and our political power over ourselves BUT that these same colonial powers had used their money and Super Power status to then pay off our own Afrikan leaders to overthrow the revolutionary governments that had been built...I was enraged and saddened and overwhelmed...I needed to pray but wasnt sure what God's name was...I needed a spiritual base and the NOI was not feeding me in that way...so one day in hour of extreme want...I fell to my needs and told GOD-I do not know what your name is , your true presence has been cloaked in lies BUT I need you to deliver me, I need strength and help and support and I know that these things come through you...I can no longer pray to the God of slaves, who I know was put into place to keep me and my children enslaved forever so I pray to the GOD my ancestors prayed to before coming to this horrible place and I beg you to answer me, help me, help my babies, deliver US!
Within a week I had purchased Tell My Horse from the school bookstore and my Black Experience in Religion teacher had introduced me to the worship of the Orisha...even though he was a Christian minister...he considered my questions in class and after class and my passion and enthusaism and pointed me to a passage in a book about Oyotunji Village in SC and said..."this is what you are looking for"...ALL PRAISES to my Munificent Mother Oshun!!!!
Within the next week I met three people studying traditional Afrikan spiritual practices and was invited to attend the next open meeting being held...within months I was a devotee...then a prestigious member of the elite inner circle and in two years a priestess of Oshun!!!
I got married again...had two more daughters...begin to home school my babies..co founded a Temple...went to Jamaica and Afrika and Barbados...listened to and was groomed by Oshun HerSelf
Somewhere within this journey I realized that while my early liberation motives had been to get a piece of the American pie...I no longer wanted any of that rotten molded corrupt and wickedness...I realized that LIFE is good and positive and uplifting in its purest form...I realized that I myself am the bringer and supreme carrier of life as the Afrikan Woman and that this is a magickal truth that has been celebrated by the ancients since life began
I became disenchanted with the patriarchal and abusive nature of most Afrikan liberation organizations and I looked desperately for a mentoress and found none but Oshun and my own head, my Ori
I became a renegade within some Orisha houses in the US because I refused to give credence to their abusive and chauvanistic practices and I was VOCAL about my refusal...I even cussed out the brothers that I travelled to Afrika with for their unacceptable behavior while there...somewhere along the way I BECAME I WOMAN....YES YES YES
I knelt by the waters of the Oshun river while in Nigeria and asked for healing and was blessed with Sacred Woman when I returned the US
I divorced husband number two and wept before my Oshun shrine and was blessed with another free trip to Barbados and a job teaching at the university
I learned to depend upon Oshun for all things and that all things would be and continue to be given unto me
I moved away with my four daughters to the West Indies...offending many with my vocal stance against the patriarchy my unacceptance of chauvanistic treatment of any kind in any form...and my assertion and patriarchal attitudes ARE NOT AFRIKAN!...I brought my children home to the US for a visit with their father embraced my most passionate lover...concieved and bore a son
AND so here I am...in the midst of a long pause and reflect period in my own life...sitting the US still for the past 2 years even though I KNOW and my children KNOW it is not the place for us...but still knowing that LIFE is good and that OSHUN is in control always and in all ways...waiting for I dunno...an epiphany...a sign...lightening...fireworks...something...and I am now 39...carrying another child...teaching at another university...watching the election of the first black president in the US wishing my mother had lived to see it...
My life has been so good so full so transformational so led truth and wisdom and courage
I am proud of my self and in awe of my self as well...what further adventures we have only Oshun knows but in looking back I am sure of one thing
I am up to the challenge and
I am game!