Date Archives March 2018

BOOK REVIEW–HOMEGOING

Title: HOMEGOING
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher/publication date: Alfred A. Knopf/2016
ISBN: 9781101947142
Pages: 310 pages(my copy)
Blurb
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of cape coast castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousand s of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.
One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization.
The other thread follows Esi and her grandchildren into America. From the plantations of the south to the civil war and the great migration, from the coal mines of Pratt city, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of a captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Review
Can I request that you go back to read the blurb again. Patiently this time. Word for word, in case you sped through. Thank you.
Homegoing is a heartrending read. It follows two sisters separated at birth and explores if either of them ever had much hope as the white man breathed down their necks. Each alternating chapter traces the two generations through the evolvement of slave trade and there is an aching cry for the enslaved and those involved in selling their own brothers to the white man. Each chapter reads like a short story of people whose lives are scarred by the actions of other humans like themselves. Its haunting because just when you get drawn into the characters and empathise with their plight, the story for that person’s generation just ceases.
In short, it traces the legacy of slave trade in people’s every day lives and is a perspective of racial history. Life during the tribal wars in 1700, the transatlantic slave trade, the effect or lack of effect of the fugitive slave act, and how oppression of the blacks by the white shifted from that of the body to that of the mind.
We read of the way a people’s mother tongue was whipped out of their mouths; five lashes for every one word of Twi their children would unwittingly speak. We’re enraged at how humans are shackled to owners by a piece of paper so declaring them; people who in their own rights, should have mattered.

you want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves”
”but for the rest of her life Esi would see a smile on a white face and remember the one the soldier gave her before taking her to his quarters, how white men smiling just meant more evil was coming with the next wave”

I don’t know if a reader can read this and justify certain actions ever again in their lives.
For me, Esi’s story was particularly haunting as she saw part of the undoing of her own people by her hands, and didn’t know it for what it was, until it was completed.
Yaa Gyasi has this as her debut novel and I say its worthy of praise. Effort is clearly put in (I saw a quote where Gyasi said she wrote the most part of the book in a dark and dingy room in her house, giving off a dungeon vibe).Her language is the envy of other writers, and her story-telling skills seamless.
There is a family tree at the start of the book which is very important for when the reader begins to get winded keeping up with who’s who from each generation.
Some people lament at the way each character’s story ends just when the reader starts to fall in love. I suppose that this is a way of stating the obvious; evil would not give closure. Mothers are separated from their children, lovers are killed or sold and the reader wants closure?
For those who have read this book, these characters remain my favourite: Esi, Ness, Kojo, Majorie.
It’ll help if you already know one or two things about the American civil war, slave trade, racism. If you don’t, I suppose this book can be a background for further learning. I recommend this book for the preservation of history. I rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5.
Excerpts:
”It was one thing to research something, another thing entirely to have lived it.”
”When he was younger, his father told him that black people didn’t like water because they were brought over on slave ships. What did a black man want to swim for? The ocean floor was already littered with black men”
”Esi stared at her mother then, and it was as though she were seeing her for the first time. maame was not a whole woman. There were large swaths of her spirit missing, and no matter how much Esi loved her, they both knew in that moment that love could never return what maame had lost. And Esi knew too that her mother would die rather than run into the woods ever again, die before capture, die even if it meant in her dying that Esi would inherit that unspeakable sense of loss, learn what it meant to be un-whole”
”Ness would fall asleep to the images of men being thrown into the Atlantic ocean like anchors attached to nothing: no land, no people, no worth”
‘the mud wall of the dungeon made all time equal. There was no sunlight. Darkness was day and night and everything in between. Sometimes there were so many bodies stacked into the women dungeon that they all had to lie, stomach down, so that women could be stacked on top of them”
don’t matter if you was or wasn’t. all they gotta do is say you was. That’s all they gotta do. You think cuz you all muscled up, you safe? Naw, dem white folks can’t stand the sight of you. Walkin’ round free as can be. Don’t nobody want to see a black man look like you walkin’ round proud as a peacock. Like you ain’t got a lick of fear in you… I’ma tell you, war may be over but it ain’t ended”
”you have to understand, H. the day you called me another woman’s name, I thought ain’t I been through enough? Ain’t just about everything I ever had been taken away from me? My freedom. My family. My body. And now I cant even own my name? aint I deserve to be Ethe, to you at least if nobody else? My mama gave me that name herself. I spent six good years with her before they sold me to Louisiana to work them sugarcanes. All I had of her then was my name. that was all I had of myself too. And you wouldn’t even give me that.”
”She wanted to explain that at home they had a different word for African-Americans, akata. The akata people were different from Ghanaians, too long gone from the mother continent to continue to call it the mother continent. She wanted to tell Mrs.Pinkston that she could feel herself being pulled away too, almost akata, too long gone from Ghana to be called a Ghanaian. But the look on Mrs. Pinkston’s face stopped her from explaining herself at all.”
So people, what do you think? Read this? Interested in doing so? Or do you have a comment about the slave trade? Just want to say hello? Lol. Comment people. Thank you!

Sleeping Jesus, Bleeding Professional.


Matt 8:24-27 CJB
Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake, so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping. 25 So they came and roused him, saying, “Sir! Help! We’re about to die!” 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm. 27 The men were astounded. They asked, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?”
Mark 4:37-41 KJV And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
It was a big boat we sailed in this time around on our way to Gadarenes, east of the sea of galilee. Peter was in charge. We had gone some distance when the storm hit. From my years of experience on the sea of galilee as a fisherman and with the grit I saw on peter’s face, it was evident we needed Yaweh’s help.
We could all sense from some signs even as we set off earlier that there would be a storm, but we thought it would be as all other times. Moreover, we knew how desperately Jesus needed to rest, so we got away. With the violent rocking of the boat, Jesus stayed unshaken, he definitely needed the rest. I glanced at him and watched the steady rise and fall of his chest and the wind lifting his hair as though in a stage play.
With the increasing persistence of the storm, we’d all at different times glanced at where he lay and left him undisturbed, no one did the waking. He deserved the rest. He’d taught the beatitudes to the large crowd, taught on vows, adultery, anger and others; As we descended from the mountain certain that we were going to rest, a leprous man who couldn’t interact with people according to the law, and which prevented him from listening on the mountain, came beseeching Jesus; A Roman officer had followed immediately; We had also been to Peter’s house and Jesus healed his mother-in-law, it was only there in Peter’s house he was able to eat his first meal of the day; next, the sick people came en-masse; not to forget the numerous people who had questions about following him. It was late evening now and he had taught and healed the whole day.
I snapped from my line of thought as I saw a high wave heading our way. It was hard to not envision the miraculous yet dreadful walls of water the Israelites passed through when Moses led them. ”Yaweh” I breathed in a rush. Andrew, who was beside me, knelt in fearful awe. The boat rocked and all the vessels in the boat rolled, their content spilling. Peter barked out some orders and we all hurried to stabilize the boat. The flood of water washed over us, drenching everything that wasn’t already dripping wet from the massive outpouring of rain. Now in the boat, was enough water to wade past our ankles. I shared a look with Andrew: this was all bad. In the sky, lightening kept flashing, and the thunders didn’t cease. Peter’s commanding cries were drowned in the noise of it all, we all just did what we thought we should do, and frantically.
The storm remained fierce.
The waves began to rock the boat off direction completely, and it spun on its axis till we couldn’t keep up with our direction in the middle of the sea anymore. My hands were bleeding from holding the sheet tight and I wasn’t conscious that someone had gone to wake Jesus until I heard his voice right behind me. As I jerked from the surprise of hearing his voice, the sheet slapped in the wind. ”About time Lord. We are going to perish” Bartholomew Said ”Save us lord!” ”we are about to die!” He stood resting one hand on the boat’s halyard, his cloak was flying revealing his woolen tunic. He gazed at each one of us in the eye, his face straight but the warmth of it could not be denied. ”why are you so frightened?” he answered to all pleas. As though in answer to his question, another wave rose, this one extremely high and it approached with the loudest of howling sounds, crushing the smaller waves which lay before it. All eyes darted to Jesus and back to the wave. ”what little faith you have!
I wasn’t sure if I was the only one who heard him because he stood right by my side, or if his voice was loud enough to carry over the thunder to the others. What little faith? Jesus fixed his gaze on the approaching wave. Eager faces, trade-marked with worry-lines looked at him when he opened his mouth to speak, and this time, Jesus’ voice carried louder than all noise. That authority which we never could deny erupted, as he looked straight at the wave about to crush us and said ” Peace. Be still” Instantly, the wave slept. SLEPT. I’m always right back on that boat when what was to be the tool of our destruction became a pet before us. The water hissed and fell. Everything around responded. The thunders and lightening stopped, the rain reduced to a drizzle then ceased, the sun rose slowly over the once overcast sky. The boat rocked like it was a baby cradled by the arms of its mother, all violence gone. ”ah” I gasped, I couldn’t otherwise be persuaded of what had just happened before my eyes. It transcends description. Everyone was amazed.
what kind of man is this? ” I said And one after the other, we all dropped to our knees; and this time, we did so not in fear of the waves, but out of a deep seated realization that nothing defers Jesus. ”even the wind and waves obey him” I muttered. I began to shiver: not from cold but from the power of the man who slept through the storm while we frenzied with bleeding hands. I shivered at the sight of the one who quieted looming death with a sentence.
On that day, I decided I would never again let him sleep while I bleed. It’s either of two things; we sleep together, or we bleed together, and I think he prefers sleeping in the storms of life. I believe him because I may be a professional fisherman, but even on the sea, he is the king.
Hello. Phew! Let me know your thoughts on this post. I was a little excited creating this blogpost. And boy, did it task me. I did a bit of reading on boats, storm etc, particularly how it operated over 2000 years ago. Not to mention reading that bible passage in different translations and in different gospel books. In other words, I must know your thoughts. And you must share. Hope you’re well. Also, do share your plans for the weekend. I’m mostly reading books and setting up my new phone. I plan to type up some blog posts this coming week too. Take care!
Peace and Warmth,
Debby.

Fiction: Patient Shoulders

She felt it would last forever; the imminent separation. She did not want to face the implication of his leaving. She did not want to address the lump in her throat. She sat silently in the back seat of the car as her father drove steadily to the airport.
She’d thought she was certain where they were headed before now. She hated, with a blend of tolerance, the inability to read Sola’s mind at certain moments. He looked on ahead, sitting at the front seat beside her father, his chin lifted, just as the radio in the car droned on.
To think she couldn’t bring herself to stop liking his personality no matter what. She wanted to cry.
She felt the unease occasioned by her defiant silence shift to wrap itself around her father but Sola will seem immune. Her father impulsively tapped the steering wheel as he began to speak again, stopping to clear his throat
so have you heard any other news about your father?”
No sir,” Sola replied steadily “it’s the same.”
God will intervene” her father said.
“Amen”
She gazed out the window in despair.
At the airport, her father double checked the car security before they walked down to the terminal. Sola checked in his ticket and from where she sat with her father, she saw him speaking to the lady behind the counter in his easy manner. The lady cracked a smile. Walking back to where she sat with her father, he looked at them both and nodded. “I’m set to go”

Okay then my son. Keep in touch” her father said and patted his back in a brief hug, smiling.
This time her eyes would not be averted. She looked at him, appearing bolder than she felt. She gave a small smile. He didn’t. He stepped closer and put both his hands around her shoulders to hold them in a comforting manner. She did not want comfort, anything but comfort, as her head throbbed with the onset of an headache. His grip was firm but not hard.
” you take care of yourself. You deserve care.”.

Three months later, She was walking down her street having bought soft drinks for the visitors they were to host in the evening.
For no reason at all, it came into her mind what Sola had last said to her: <i>you deserve care.</i>
Inadvertently, she snorted. It had been three 'almost-relationships' in her life and she was fatigued. She was prejudiced about relationships and on a whole, world-weary but she didn't know how to help herself. Her father who knew the level of her closeness to Sola had not known how to either, but he still tried to encourage her gently. Iyanu was past words of encouragement. She wasn't sure she could even enter into any relationship successfully without a nagging fear that it would crash. She felt her own anguish and wished for a motherly advice.

The visitors they were expecting arrived in two cars. A metallic silver honda accord and a white Mercedes benz. She was in the kitchen frying the last round of plantain to go with the jollof rice when Dele, the adopted help, went to open the gate. She took a break to briefly view them from the window at the sitting room before returning to the kitchen.
Her father soon joined the three men and two women. Greetings and laughter followed.
~~~
Iyanu left the door to her room wide open once she’d served them their food and her father had introduced her as his daughter. With the door open, the visitors’ voices carried softly to where she was. The conversation after they’d eaten the food she served wielded itself from the upcoming elections to the issue of politics in the church, and then to Christian virtues. It was on this subject: Christian virtues, that they dwelt the longest.
Iyanu could guess it was the tall woman who was speaking at the moment about Elizabeth, wife of John the Baptist.
But you see that with all our bible knowledge these days, virtues like patience seem to have taken the backseat. Some people argue that if you have faith everything comes extremely fast. Quite true, but we must know the exceptions.
That wasn’t the case for Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was old before she conceived. ‘Stricken in age’, the bible puts it
The woman’s tempo was going down and Iyanu, very much interested, rose from her bed where she had propped herself against the wall, using her pillow. She took her plastic chair and sat by the door to her room for better audience.
…Heaven knew the right specifications for the woman who was to birth Jesus on earth. We were waiting for that Mary and so God kept Elizabeth childless for that purpose. Elizabeth had proven she wouldn’t disappoint him. How many could do that?

They were stricken in age but she had come to understand like the three Hebrew boys that Faith is steadfast even if the answer from heaven doesn’t seem favourable at that time. If it doesn’t come from God, I don’t want it.
“Elizabeth was to birth the forerunner of Christ, a very important role and God trusted her well enough that until Mary is ready, she’d wait on him. Until the appointed time. Until Mary hits puberty. Until she’s old enough to be engaged to Joseph, Elizabeth wouldn’t lose faith. He knew she would not stop loving him because the promise was yet to surface. It was a step-by-step leading, one not moved by time and season. The beauty of it all is that God could depend the plan of salvation on her patient shoulders.”

In the distance the wall clock ticked a bit loudly.

In other news, Happy International women’s day.
Do share your thoughts and subscribe.
As always,
Debby.

Book review–Born A Crime

Happy new month precious people. This is the third of twelve chapters in your self-authored book. How’s it going?
Greetings from this side. We’re reviewing a book today. Don’t forget to share your thoughts at the end and share the post. 💕💕
Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Spigel and Grau (2016)
Pages:  252(my e-book copy)
Review

I dug into this book in the basic expectation that it would have a bit of humour as the viral hum said.
I took no time to research the author or think what the title could mean but by the time I saw the import of the title in the book, I decided that Trevor is intelligent.
Born A Crime is Trevor Noah’s first book. It is in fact, his memoir.
Trevor’s birth was evidence of his parents crime unlike most other people whose birth is often evidence of their parent’s love.
I appreciate the use of imagery in the book. I was with him at nine years when his mum wrapped herself around the toddler and jumped with (/pushed) Trevor from a moving vehicle.
I was with him when he went looking for his father in great anxiety, at twenty four years and I was there when he got relieved his father wasn’t any different from how he’d known him to be in his teenage years.
This book explores the subject of apartheid and it walks you through it.
It reveals the strategy employed by the whites in pitting the locals against themselves, in order to rule them all.

 Bitterness festered. For decades those feelings were held in check by a common enemy. Then apartheid fell, Mandela walked free, and black South Africa went to war with itself…”

You’re walked through the different streets in SouthAfrica and you come to discover racism. You’re in the schools and you understand it starts from there. The troubles of racism; being black, white and coloured.
Other than the subject of Apartheid and Racism, this book also explores Motherhood, strongly.

“My mom thought having a child was going to be like having a partner, but every child is born the center of its own universe, incapable of understanding the world beyond its own wants and needs, and I was no different”

The unselfish love of a mother for her child and the question of reciprocal of such love:

“People say all the time that they’d do anything for the people they love. But would you really? Would you do anything? Would you give everything? I don’t know that a child knows that kind of selfless love. A mother, yes. A mother will clutch her children and jump from a moving car to keep them from harm. She will do it without thinking. But I don’t think the child knows how to do that, not instinctively. It’s something the child has to learn.”

This book is written as a tribute to Trevor’s mother- Nombuyiselo, who weathered every challenge beautifully. She was his pal(still is); spoke to him as an intelligent being, gave him a chance to explore, to be, to speak his mind, beat him and explained why .

Whenever the riots broke out, all our neighbors would wisely hole up behind closed doors. But not my mom. She’d head straight out, and as we’d inch our way past the blockades, she’d give the rioters this look. Let me pass. I’m not involved in this shit. She was unwavering in the face of danger. That always amazed me. It didn’t matter that there was a war on our doorstep. She had things to do, places to be. It was the same stubbornness that kept her going to church despite a broken-down car. There could be five hundred rioters with a blockade of burning tires on the main road out of Eden Park, and my mother would say, “Get dressed. I’ve got to go to work. You’ve got to go to school.” “But aren’t you afraid?” I’d say. “There’s only one of you and there’s so many of them. “Honey, I’m not alone,” she’d say. “I’ve got all of Heaven’s angels behind me.”.

There’s a lot to learn of the inner workings under apartheid regime and even though this is my own focus, you’d meet lots of people who’ve read this book and only remember it for its humour.
Some are fans of this book for the life tips it has to offer.
Basically I’d quote the whole book because I’m here trying to advocate for basic knowledge of the relevant things; of which history always ranks high. However, I cannot quote the whole book.
I rate the book 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s an easy read with underlying depth.
Excerpts

If we weren’t at school or work or church, we were out exploring. My mom’s attitude was “I chose you, kid. I brought you into this world, and I’m going to give you everything I never had.” She poured herself into me. She would find places for us to go where we didn’t have to spend money.
She refused to be bound by ridiculous ideas of what black people couldn’t or shouldn’t do.
world. My mom raised me as if there were no limitations on where I could go or what I could do. When I look back I realize she raised me like a white kid—not white culturally, but in the sense of believing that the world was my oyster, that I should speak up for myself, that my ideas and thoughts and decisions mattered
My mother showed me what was possible. The thing that always amazed me about her life was that no one showed her. No one chose her. She did it on her own. She found her way through sheer force of will.

We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.

The smallest thing could prompt her. I’d walk through the house on the way to my room and say, “Hey, Mom” without glancing up. She’d say, “No, Trevor! You look at me. You acknowledge me. Show me that I exist to you, because the way you treat me is the way you will treat your woman. Women like to be noticed. Come and acknowledge me and let me know that you see me. Don’t just see me when you need something.”

“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.”

“Hustling is to work what surfing the Internet is to reading. If you add up how much you read in a year on the Internet—tweets, Facebook posts, lists—you’ve read the equivalent of a shit ton of books, but in fact you’ve read no books in a year. When I look back on it, that’s what hustling was. It’s maximal effort put into minimal gain. It’s a hamster wheel”

“The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women

In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race-mixing proves that races can mix—and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”

 “…If you’re in an environment that is positive and progressive, you too will become that. I keep telling you to change your life, and you don’t”

“In the hood, gangsters were your friends and neighbors. You knew them. You talked to them on the corner, saw them at parties. They were a part of your world. You knew them from before they became gangsters. It wasn’t, “Hey, that’s a crack dealer.” It was, “Oh, little Jimmy’s selling crack now.” The weird thing about these gangsters was that they were all, at a glance, identical. They drove the same red sports car. They dated the same beautiful eighteen-year-old girls. It was strange. It was like they didn’t have personalities; they shared a personality. One could be the other, and the other could be the one. They’d each studied how to be that gangster”

Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It’s a strange feeling. You want to live in a world… where you either hate them or love them, but that’s not how people are.



That’s it. Any excerpt you particularly agree with or disagree with? Have you read this book? Are you interested? What are you currently reading? Let’s know your thoughts.


Love and Warmth,
Debby.