ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Igbo accounted for about 1.3 million of the 1.7 million
people exported from the Bight of Biafra during the era of
the Atlantic slave trade. Out of a total of 37,000 Africans that
arrived in Virginia from Calabar in the 1700s, 30,000 were Igbo.
Douglas B. Chambers. Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005.
Enslaved Igbo and the Foundation of Afro-Virginia Slave Culture and Society
By Gloria Chuku
Department of History, Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
Based largely on court and county documents as well as the recently published transatlantic slave database, Douglas Chambers uses the circumstances surrounding the 1732 death of Ambrose Madison, the paternal grandfather of President James Madison, to reconstruct the history of the Igbo slaves in Virginia. Thus, the book is primarily about the dominant role of enslaved Igbo in the formation of early Afro-Virginia slave culture and society. In the words of the author, it discusses “the process of historical creolization in eighteenth-century Virginia .. . .[which] effectively mean[s] the Igboization of slave community and culture” in the region (p. 18). The book breaks into two parts: part 1 consists of chapters 1-4, and part 2 consists of chapters 5-10.
Three slaves, two men and a woman, were accused of causing Madison’s death by poisoning. They were tried and found guilty. While one of the accused, a male slave owned by a neighboring planter, was executed for his alleged lead role, the other two, owned by Madison, were punished by whipping and returned to his estate.
As a foundation for his thesis, Chambers attempts to trace the history of the enslaved Africans from their points of embarkation in the Bight of Biafra and, more specifically, Calabar to their disembarkation in Virginia. Thus, while part 1 of the study focuses on the Igbo and their culture and society during the era of the transatlantic slave trade, part 2 centers on the experiences of the enslaved in Virginia. The author argues that the emergence and expansion of Aro influence in Igbo region, as the foremost slave merchants, and the demise of Nri hegemony in the north-central Igbo region in the mid-eighteenth century resulted in increased exportation of Igbo people out of the Calabar and the Niger Delta ports.
According to the author’s calculations, the Igbo accounted for about 1.3 million of the 1.7 million people exported from the Bight of Biafra during the era of the Atlantic slave trade. Out of a total of 37,000 Africans that arrived in Virginia from Calabar in the 1700s, 30,000 were Igbo (p. 23). The significance of this pattern of slave trade between Calabar and Virginia, Chamber argues, is that the increased exportation of enslaved Igbo from their homeland to the Chesapeake region coincided with the expansion of colonial settlement from the Upper Tidewater to the fertile Central Piedmont, an era when the transatlantic trade transformed the region into a slave society that was dominated by the Igbo and their culture.
In 1721, Ambrose Madison inherited an estate at Mt. Pleasant from his father-in-law. To secure title to this estate, he purchased newly imported African slaves and sent them there to clear and cultivate crops. In early 1732, he moved to the new estate with his family. Six months later, while still in his mid-thirties, he died, allegedly as a result of poison. As the author states, while Madison’s biographers and hagiographers helped to create a general impression that he died a strange death at a very young age, his family members attributed his death to a poisoning conspiracy involving two of his slaves and an outside male slave. To buttress his claim that Igbo slaves were responsible for their master’s death, Chambers, in a chapter of only five pages, attempts to link the use of poison as a weapon of slave resistance to the enslaved Igbo in Virginia and the Caribbean colonies.
This is very subjective, since the knowledge and use of plant medicines to heal the sick, placate the spirits and punish enemies and deviants was not the exclusive prerogative of the enslaved Igbo.
In part 2 of the book, which focuses on Virginia, the author delineates five phases of the creolization of Mt. Pleasant (later Montpelier), namely, the Charter generation (1720s-1730s), the Creolizing generation (1740s-1760s), the Creolized generation (1770s-1790s), the “Worriment” generation (1800s-1820s), and the Ruination generation (1830s-1850s). The charter generation of Atlantic Africans marked the development of Mt.
Pleasant as a regional slave community of the Madison family with twenty-nine slaves. It was an era when enslaved Africans employed their cultural heritage to adapt to their new environment. They not only employed their expertise in tropical agriculture to cultivate tobacco and corn, but also put into use their knowledge of herbs and plants to make preventive, curative, and poisonous medicines. Upon Madison’s death, his family shared his slaves between his two quarters: the Home House and Black Level, an action which signifies a new settlement pattern.
The Creolizing generation of the Montpelier slave community saw a steady growth in the slave population, resulting largely from inheritance and births. Under the leadership of James Madison Sr., the family embarked on major construction projects that made each of their quarters resemble a small village. They also established large tobacco barns, corncrib, and a mill. Wealth generated through slave labor enabled Madison to enhance his economic and political status. For closer supervision and increased productivity, he broke his slaves into small workforces and deployed them annually to live in different quarters in a rotating order. However, following the building of the Home House and the slave quarter, the Walnut Grove, Madison brought many of his slaves to stay at the core Montpelier community in the late 1760s.
The Creolized generation (1770s-1790s) marked the high point of Montpelier as a slave community that was centered on the Walnut Grove, with over hundred slaves in the mid-1770s (p. 129). While tobacco remained the main export crop, Madison was able to diversify his business operations to include blacksmithing, carpentry, and brandy distilling. He also added wheat and hay to his list of crops. Before he died in 1801, Madison also invested in plows, scythes, and other grain-cultivating tools which facilitated increased production and specialization by the slaves.
The “Worriment” (1800s-1820s) and “Ruination” (1830s-1850s) generations marked the death of James Madison Sr., the disputes over the division of his estates, the first substantial separations of slaves from the home community, the death of President Madison, and the final divestment of what was left of the Montpelier community. By 1860, under a new owner, the Montpelier slave population had been so drastically reduced, either through intra- and inter-state slave trade or the manumission process, that only twenty slaves were left on the estate.
As the author aptly observes, in spite of the predominant role of enslaved Africans in the development of Mt. Pleasant and their contribution to the rise of the Madison family to regional prominence, historians have tended to overlook them, focusing on Montpelier only as the family home of President Madison. A few of the blacks mentioned in the historiography of the Madisons were Sawney, Billy Gardner, Granny Milly, Paul Jennings, and Surkey. Paul Jennings, who published a small pamphlet in 1865, was a sixteen-year-old house slave at the White House in 1814, attending to the president until his death, and Sawney accompanied the young James to his college in New Jersey and served as his manservant. He also served as an overseer, cultivated yams and cabbages, and raised chickens before his death in the 1830s.
In the last chapter, the author tries to reinforce his claims that Igbo slaves killed Ambrose Madison and that their predominance in Virginia gave them the opportunity to lay the foundation of the Afro-Virginian culture and community. For this purpose, he uses the personal names of the enslaved to mark their individuality and to connect them to the Montpelier slave community and the broader history of the region. The author mentions names such as Calabar (male), Eboe Sarah (female), Juba (male,) and Breechy (male). He also uses yams (a staple food) and okra (a vegetable) as evidence of the foodways of
Igbo origins, as well as “mojo” for charms, and the slave “Jonkonnu” (a Christmastime slave masquerade), all in the attempt to make a case for what he calls “creolized Igboism” in Virginia. Chambers also associates the eighteenth-century low-fired ceramic cooking pots and eating bowls (generally called colonoware) with the enslaved Igbo. According to the author, the “description of precolonial Igbo potting technology fits quite well with what is known of eighteenth-century Virginia colonoware . . . [and] gourds (calabashes) were another important Igbo material cultural item that continued in Virginia” (pp.172-173).
Other material culture the author lists in the book, as signifying Igbo connection, are dugout canoes, styles of fences, blue glass beads, and an iron sculpture which he claims evokes the kinds of figures made from wood or clay that littered southern Igbo “mbari” art or even “ikenga” (p.174). The author identifies musical instruments such as box drums and the “banjo” stringed instrument as uniquely Igbo. He also points to slave patterns of settlement, Igbo belief in reincarnation, the practice of not celebrating birthdays, and the nudity of enslaved children and youths as practices which resonated in Afro-Virginian culture and suggest the dominance of Igbo influence.
The author draws on the extreme lactose intolerance among Virginia’s black adults of the nineteenth century and the related notion that the Igbo and Yoruba were the only major African ethnic groups with a known lactose intolerance (p.186). In addition, he says that the high proportion of Igbo women in the colony might have given them disproportionate influence in the socialization of Creole children.
As a counter-thesis to that of the author, it should be noted that yam-growing was and is not peculiar to the Igbo; more importantly, North American yams are actually sweet potatoes, not the “genus Dioscorea” associated with West Africa. Similarly, the paraphernalia associated with the Christmastime slave masquerades that the author links with the Igbo were actually more related to mid-twentieth-century Kalabari masks.
As for calabashes, as the author notes, these were used as gourds in Virginia; by contrast, calabashes were used as cups, bowls, and drinking ladles in Igbo society. Regarding musical instruments, while many central African peoples called their version of stringed gourd “mbanza”, there is no Igbo name for the musical instrument the author identifies as “banjo.” The author believes that most of the enslaved Igbo who came from Calabar were from the north-central Igbo region, the home to the famous Umudioka woodcarvers.
I would argue that the absence of carved doors and panels in Virginia undermines the idea of a north-central Igbo provenance of Calabar slaves and a pervasive Igbo presence and culture there. While there may be some credibility in the above claims, it is apparent that some of the cultural practices attributed to the Igbo in this study were neither unique nor exclusive to them. To start with, the Igbo were not the only enslaved Africans who originated from the Niger Delta and Calabar ports, and ended up in Virginia. There were also the Ibibio, the Efik, the Andoni, the Ubani, the Okrika, the Kalabari, and, later, the Ejagham, the Ekoi, the Idoma, the Igala, and even the Hausa and Nupe–captives from the nineteenth-century Muslim-engineered wars.
Besides, Virginia had slaves from the Yoruba, the Akan area, Mande, Fulani, Angola, the Congo basin, and Madagascar. The period covered by the book also coincided with the Islamic militancy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the Senegambia, an upheaval that resulted in the enslavement of the natives.
Virginia was, in other words, a very multi-ethnic slave society. The lack of attention to other Africans in Virginia and the related neglect of their obvious contributions to the development of the region is a major weakness of this study.
It is clear that the author’s interpretation and analysis was handicapped by his limited knowledge of Igbo history, culture, and language. For instance, he erroneously regards the Nri as the “first Igbo” (pp. 36-38) and treats them as founders and leaders of the entire Igbo nation. This explains why he spends considerable time in discussing the Nri kinglist and genealogical history, which is less important for purposes of his study; the book would have benefited more if he had instead focused on the Aro, Nike, Abam, Aboh, Ngwa, Ndoki, Nkwerre, and others who participated in the transatlantic slave trade. It is also erroneous to claim that the Nri were the only people in Igbo society with the power to cleanse abominations. The author asserts that the “expansion of Aro merchant warlord settlements” (p. 35) in the mid-eighteenth century led to the growing power of client village groups within Nri area. However, no examples of such Aro-client villages in north-central Igbo region are provided.
It is misleading to suggest that there was no cassava in the region until the twentieth century and that “fufu in Igboland was invariably made of yams, not cassava” (p. 40). Cassava was introduced in different parts of Igbo region at different points in time. While some areas started cultivating and processing the crop in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, others adopted it in the twentieth century.
Moreover, fufu was also made from cocoyam, unripe plantain, and banana and, later, cassava. The incident attributed to the “Nkwerre,” who supposedly plundered Onitsha women traders when they brought European goods to the Nkwerre markets, and the author’s interpretation and suggestion that the women were molested for usurping males’ trading prerogative that violated Nkwerre taboo, are examples of his limited knowledge of Igbo society and history. The town in question was Nkwelle, which is twenty miles from Onitsha, not Nkwerre, which is much farther away. Moreover, Onitsha women were famed traders who not only bought and sold local and European goods, but also had direct commercial relations with European merchants from the moment the latter arrived in Onitsha.
As studies on the development of trade and commerce in the Onitsha region show, it was not until the twentieth century that Onitsha men, who regarded trade as women’s work, began to take part in trade with the European firms.
The author’s claim that “Igbo people brought the term [‘buckra’] into English” (p. 110), as in “buckra ,” a term used by slaves to refer to their white masters, is doubtful. While “buckra” might be a corruption of Ibibio “mbakara” (“mb” equals plural; “kara” equals to encircle, rule, or abuse), one cannot see the connection of this word with the Igbo. Similarly, he suggests that the slave name “Juba” was Igbo (meaning: “ji” for yam and “uba” for canoe, literally translated to mean “yam barn”), “and that Juba” could actually be translated into Igbo words for “ask /enquire,” or “refuse,” or “possession of wealth” (ji-uba), or “plentiful yam.” It is more likely that “Juba” was an Akan name (as in the case of Akan female name in South Carolina and Jamaica) than Igbo name.
In spite of the drawbacks I have pointed out, and occasional typographical errors, the author has assiduously provided an African-centered perspective that helps in our understanding of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ambrose Madison in 1732 and the development of his family into a prominent regional, and indeed, national economic and political power, as well as the contributions of his slaves in achieving these feats and to the foundation and growth of slave culture and society in Virginia. The book represents a limited but significant contribution to the history and historiography of slavery and, therefore, a valuable resource to students and scholars in the study of Africa and the diaspora.
Source: H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online / H-Atlantic@h-net.msu.edu
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Released April 15, 2005
Southern Missippi History Professor Made Chief in Nigerian Royal
Hattiesburg- University of Southern Mississippi assistant professor of history Dr. Douglas Chambers says he doesn’t expect his colleagues to treat him differently since he was made royalty by descendants of the king of an ancient African civilization.
But he admits he would have no qualms with fellow faculty referring to him as ‘Chief Chambers.’
After years of conducting extensive research on the still living ancient civilization of the Igbo peoples of Nri (Ènrí) in eastern Nigeria, a traditional chieftainship was bestowed on Chambers in March by the descendants of the first unified king of the Nri civilization, the Umu Nri Bùífe, or Umunri of Obeagu.
The Igbo (Ibo) are one of the three principal ethnic groups of the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, and Nri is the ‘Jerusalem’ of the Igbo, founded about one thousand years ago.
“This is quite an honor, and came about because of the relationships I formed through my research in Nigeria,” Chambers said. “I was originally inspired to study this ancient civilization because of the historical connection between Nigeria and the slave-trade to North America. The Nri civilization was based on pacificism and village-democracy, and today the Igbo have a useful story to tell the world.”
Chambers’ official title is Chief ÒkwulúNri Òka’ómèe, Ifé Umùnná of Umunrí (‘Speaks for Nri’ ‘Said/done’, Light of the Kindred of Umunri). As a titled chief of Umunri, Obeagu, Chambers is the first white person adopted by the royal lineage in its history and the first lineage-titled white person in Nri. . . .
His new book, Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia (University Press of Mississippi, 2005), explores the importance of Igbo peoples in the historical development of early slave culture and society in Virginia through the prism of the poisoning of the grandfather of President James Madison, the patriarch of ‘Montpelier’, by his African slaves in 1732.
“In the past 15 years or so, students of American history have begun to pay much more attention to the African past of American slaves, though their efforts are often hampered by their inability to understand Africa,” said John Thornton, professor of History and African American Studies at Boston University, in his review of Chambers’ Murder at Montpelier.
“Africanists have not made their task easier by generally writing little about the topics that interest their colleagues in the Americas. Douglas Chambers has triumphantly overcome that barrier by immersing himself in the study of the Igbo to the point that he is accepted as an Africanist without reservation; yet at the same time, he is equally a master of the American side and its sources,” Thornton said. “His study of Igbos in Virginia, that underlies the murder mystery that makes the plot of his book, is provocative, well-informed, and convincing.”
Chambers, who is a graduate of the University of Virginia, said he hopes his honor by the Igbo will encourage African Americans to find out more about their own family histories. “My research suggests that perhaps 60 percent of black Americans have at least one Igbo ancestor,” he said.
Source: Chief Chambers
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African Ideograms in African American Cemeteries
By Rachel Malcolm-Woods
Marks and objects in cemeteries that look merely decorative to the uninformed eye may be African signs and symbols. This iconography in cemeteries can be divided into three categories: 1) sign systems of African origins, 2) secular objects as surrogates for ideograms and 3) revival of African traditions, interpreted in new ways. Examples of such African retentions (subconscious transmissions from prior generations) exist in burial grounds and established cemeteries, particularly in the Southern United States.
A cemetery in George Washington National Forest in Amherst County, Va., is a good example. For decades, observers have commented that the gravestones had strange marks. Recently, these marks have been identified by this writer as African ideograms originating in Nigeria. The gravestones are inscribed with what appears to be Nsibidi, an Igbo writing system, confirming the survival of Igbo traditions during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Made of high-quality blue slate indigenous to the area and mined from a local quarry, the stones show little damage from weather or time. Subsequently, the place was named the Seventeen Stones Cemetery.
The stones were probably engraved between 1770 to 1830, when the Igbo Diaspora was at its height in Virginia. At that time, the Igbo people comprised approximately 70 percent of the blacks in Virginia, a larger percentage than in any other Southern state.
A star symbol at the top of one stone, signifying congress or unity has similarities to the Kongo cosmogram that depicts the life cycle of birth, life, death and the afterlife. The cosmogram symbol has equal perpendicular crossbars or lines, sometimes contained in a diamond shape or a circle. Here, the linear symbol in the lower register appears to be a combination of the sign for individual and this land is mine. Together the signs mean the deceased has joined the realm of the ancestors. Both symbols are enclosed in a rectangle, denoting their association. A line separating the symbols emphasizes they are separate but one.
Igbo ideograms were important elements of religious practice and served as mnemonic devices associated with religion and with moral and historical narratives. In Igbo death and burial traditions, Nsibidi symbols honoring the ancestors were thought to protect the deceased. The most appropriate place to honor ones forefathers was the cemetery. At times, the deceased were consulted for help with day-to-day problems. Items such as chickens, rum and schnapps were offered as gifts for the deceased during a grave-side ceremony.
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Basil Davidson obituaryBy Victoria Brittain9 July 2010Davidson [(9 November 1914 9 July 2010) a British historian, writer and Africanist] was enthused early on by the end of British colonialism and the prospects of pan-Africanism in the 1960s, and he wrote copiously and with warmth about newly independent Ghana and its leader, Kwame Nkrumah. He went to work for a year at the University of Accra in 1964. Later he threw himself into the reporting of the African liberation wars in the Portuguese colonies, particularly in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. . . . In the 1980s, with most of the African liberation wars now wonexcept for South Africa’s Davidson turned much of his attention to more theoretical questions about the future of the nation state in Africa. He remained a passionate advocate of pan-Africanism. In 1988 he made a long and dangerous journey into Eritrea, writing a persuasive defence of the nationalists’ right to independence from Ethiopia, and an equally eloquent attack on the revolutionary leader Colonel Mengistu and the regime that had overthrown Haile Selassie. Guardian
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Basil Davidson’s “Africa Series”
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The State of African Education (April 200)
Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.
Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.
By Basil Davidson
By Basil Davidson
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.
This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately
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By Kiini Ibura Salaam
Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ”Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.” Indeed, Ms. Salaam’s stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to
, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ”Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf’s Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini’s body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.”
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By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. ‘Karma’s Footsteps’ brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. “Ekere Tallie’s new work ‘Karma’s Footsteps’ is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who “refuses to tiptoe” she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.Nikky Finney / Ekere Tallie Table
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By Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection’s “lyric brilliance” and “political impulses [that] never falter.” A New York Times review stated, “Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we’re alone in the universe; it’s to acceptor at least endurethe universe’s mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith’s pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the books first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant.” Life on Mars follows Smith’s 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet’s second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.
The Bodys Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 17 August 2012