Recording My Reading Through Art Pt. 2

Kojo the free man in Baltimore

Jo used to worry that his family line had been cut off, lost forever. He would never truly know who his people were, and who their people were before them, and if there were stories to be heard about where he had come from he would never hear them. When he felt this way, Ma Aku would hold him against her and instead of stories about family she would tell him stories about nations. The Fantes of the Coast, the Asantes of the Inland, the Akans.

Abena the rebel

Abena’s father’s crops had never grown. Year after year, season after season, the earth spit up rotted plants or sometimes nothing at all. Who knew where this bad luck came from? Abena felt the seeds in her hand – small, round, and hard. Who would suspect that they could turn into a whole field?

H the miner

It had taken about a month, but it wasn’t just Joecy’s talk that finally convinced H to join. The truth was, he was scared of dying in the mines and his freedom had not erased his fear. Every time H was lowered down into the mine, he would picture his own death. Men were getting diseases he had never before seen or heard of, but now that he was free he could make the danger worth something.

Akua the crazy sleepwalker and fire blazer

Akua couldn’t remember the first time she’d seen fire, but she could remember the first time she’d dreamed of it. It was in 1895, sixteen years after her mother, Abena, had carried her Akua-swollen belly to the missionaries in Kumasi, fifteen years after Abena had died. Then the fire in Akua’s dream had been nothing more than a quick flash of ochre. Now the firewoman raged.

Akua’s ear was growing, so at night she now slept flat on her back or stomach, never on her side, afraid of crushing the new weight. She was certain that the dreams entered through her growing ear, that they latched onto the sizzling sounds of fried things in the daytime and lodged themselves in her mind at night, and so she slept flat-backed to let them through. Because even though she feared the new sounds, she knew she needed to hear them too.

Willie the singer

Now Willie sang the anthem, and the crowd watched, beaming. She imagined that the sound came from a cave at the very bottom of her gut, that like her father and all the men in front of her, she was a miner reaching deep down inside of her to pull something valuable out.


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