I am interested and devoted to all things from the continent of Africa. I find myself watching video after video on youtube concerning all things African. I love to watch videos about the different cultures, languages, practices. I get knowledge from travel vlogs, documentaries, and videos from native Africans speaking about their home. This book is exactly what I needed. It shined a light on to a ritual that is merely male serving and evil. I learned about the ritual servitude/slavery that is trokosi last year and it broke my heart. These rituals always seem to involve a girl/woman giving her very life for the idea of luck or idea of being able to evade bad luck. It gives those that practice this ritual the idea that the sacrifice of someone’s life for the betterment of others is the only way to stop the so-called ‘bad luck’. To me, sacrifice is a personal commitment, not the idea of offering up another person’s life. Sacrifice your OWN life. It’s always interesting to me when people think they can romance karma’s retreat. This book takes you on a journey to see how this practice trokosi ravished lives but at the same time helped others find their purpose. This is a story about forgiveness. This is also a story about pure evil left unchecked. This is a story about the centuries of hatred toward black girls/women bodies and how they are used as footstools in many cultures. This is also a story about how your very own family can be the authors of your darkest hour.
Trokosi is mainly practiced in Ghana, Benin, and Togo. Aside from being a black woman who has given birth to a black girl, learning about this practice personally touches me because these countries are in my DNA. Benin, Togo, and Ghana show up being the highest percentages in my DNA makeup according to ancestrydna.com. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors shared similar experiences as the young girls in this book. Ms. McFadden did a great job describing the mind of a young child and how evil creeps in to shift their perception forever. She shines a light on how lies, even little white ones, can destroy someone’s entire world. The theme of guilt is very strong in this story as well. You are able to see how everyone seemed to carry guilt in different ways. She captured the purest heart of a child. Tears were shed. Tears were shed not just due to the pain displayed but also the hope you will find in this book. If you are triggered by the mistreatment of children/women, approach this book while giving yourself self-care and take your time.
I believe in life and all that represents. I’m not really sure if I believe in bad luck or good luck. I won’t deny often wondering if this so-called bad luck has taken hold over parts of my life. However, I believe life and bad/good luck should not be used interchangeably. Life can often look like tides at sea. Sometimes gifts are brought in through the tide and other times hard lessons. Its ever moving, ever changing, ever evolving. It is up to us to constantly adjust to how we react to said life. Sometimes there are calming ripples and other times the waves of life will try to rip you apart. Yet, you still manage to find a reason to smile in the midst of it all. This is a story about how Abeo’s life was turned upside down because life happened and someone else decided she had to pay with her innocence. It’s touching, honest, and painful. It’s all the things life is made of.
warning: no caps, wonky punctuation.. why? i’m over it
it always amazes me how 2 people can be at the same event but walk away with different accounts of the experience.. i know what it is with afropunk.. there will be pompous you can’t sit with us folks there.. it’s in brooklyn.. better yet it’s in NY.. that is to be expected..
the 1st time i went back in 2014 i was put off by the way the afropunk goers were stuck up.. not speaking.. not acknowledging each other’s excellence.. i decided to push through because it was a great festival with a real concept.. for us, by us.. i understand why people speak of the good ole days when afropunk was free.. once capitalism enters the building changes happen..
yeah, capitalism & the need to grow will always change the face of any corporation.. it’s sad to say.. but, so long as the music is there & the beautiful people are there.. i will continue to make it what i want it to be.. i won’t throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.. we have become a society of knee jerk reactions on a continuous loop.. what are we cancelling next?
i understand if others need to give it up.. you must practice stiff self love practices… i won’t silence those with memories of better days.. thing is when i found out about afropunk i had to pay $$ for my experience.. it’s hard to keep these types of festivals free..
i understand why vip is a thing.. it’s just not my jam.. i want to mingle with my folks.. you know, the broke folks.. in all seriousness, i did see how celebs couldn’t chill & have a good time like everyone else.. last year poor jessica williams couldn’t live her best life because fans kept interrupting her time with a friend.. unfortunately, any time vip is introduced it just gives off this haughtiness i loathe, ugh.. but, i get it..
my suggestions: please bring afropunk to harlem.. i think afropunk could benefit from a change of scenery.. shift the atmosphere.. also, white people need to be encouraged to tread lightly when entering our space.. personally, i have mixed feelings about their presence.. hire more professional security.. and, they need to be placed at exits.. leaving the park after the last act almost gave me a panic attack.. not sure if outside food is allowed.. it should be.. afropunk is already getting its coint upfront.. people should be allowed to bring in outside food.. continue to hand out free water to those in the front rows because so many people fainted.. keep doing that.. i also suggest maybe forming a panel where people can voice their concerns, frustrations, suggestions about afropunk.. we are passionate because we love it so much.. don’t close us out.. the survey is a nice touch.. actually listen to the people..
i still manage to continue to meet awesome people & learn about new artists i end up falling in love with beyond afropunk.. i want afropunk to be better, do better.. just not sure if people make it better or organizers.. maybe it’s a collaborative effort.. how do we resist the very thing that gives us space to be true to ourselves? not sure.. i don’t have the answers.. i am sorry people had a horrible experience.. it’s real.. i know it’s true what they speak of.. i see the tranformation.. i see the people losing the grasp of afropunk’s heart..
if you are interested in seeing my 2018 afropunk experience in pic and video form, head over to my instagram @belauriette
Okay. I know the title is corny. I had to. I found the above tweet circulating on tumblr. This post happened as a result.
I really needed to officially document this wonderful experience on my blog page.
For many years I romanticized a trip to Niagara Falls, USA. Every year I made excuses why I couldn’t make the trip. The main deterrent that kept me from Niagara Falls this long was fear. Fear that the trip would not match up to my fantasies. And, Niagara Falls surpassed my expectations.
At first glance on the observation deck, I was overcome with emotion. The first words that came to my mouth were, “look at what God did!” The sight literally took my breath away. I had to take a moment to allow the image to wash over me. While on the Maid of the Mist, the mist touched my face and made me feel alive. The water from the falls, during our tour of the Cave of the Winds, felt like heaven. Words escape me. I’m so grateful. Pictures don’t do it justice. I could literally feel the charge of energy running through my veins. I could have walked all day long. I didn’t feel my age, my limitations, my burdensome life back home. My sun and moon signs are in Cancer which represents Water. I felt light, encouraged. Even if you are not a moody crab, I’m sure you will gain so much positive energy from the experience.
I’m so glad my sista made the decision for us to stay at this hotel. We were only 4 blocks away from the falls. The hotel WiFi was excellent along with the service. The cigarette smoke coming from the Casino was a bit much but we pushed through. I even gambled a bit and made a little cash. It’s so easy to get caught up in the gamble trying to get lucky. Cushy comfortable leather seats in the Casino were comfortable as we enjoyed the games in the non-smoking section. The trolley service made it very easy for us to get around to the different attractions.
During my last moments with the falls, I cried. I didn’t want to leave. I will be back soon. I want to thank my sista, Kiwi. She made my birthday a cool, relaxing, fun time. Love you! I also want to thank my mother for taking care of my daughter during my absence. I’m so so grateful.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Ayoka Boahinmaa.”
“Beautiful name. What does it mean?”
“Ayoka means a joy bringer and Boahinmaa means one who has left her community.” He waits for more explanation, but she is not ready to give that story. “It’s a long story.”
“Well, my name means simply one who sees the truth.”
“Ayoka Boahinmaa, I would like to take you out to dinner, but I don’t have much time to court you properly.
“What is the rush?” He ignores the question.
“Can I offer you something to eat from the kitchen?” she nods. N’Jadaka sends word to the chef to bring something special.
Not that Ayoka doesn’t feel like she would make an awesome lover for any man. This man is the King of Wakanda. She couldn’t help wondering out loud, “Why me?”
N’Jadaka seemed to be shocked by her question. “I like your energy. You make me feel good; at ease. And, you are gorgeous; my kind of beautiful. I don’t expect you to fall in love with me overnight or anything, but I must warn you,” he says smugly. “I expect that you will fall and there will be animalistic lovemaking, marriage, and babies.”
“Whoa! In that order?!, Ayoka jokes. “You have all this figured out.”
“What would be your preferred order?”
Looking directly into his eyes, Ayoka says, “animalistic lovemaking.” *long silence*
N’Jadaka laughs hardily.
“Hey. I’ve never had sex with a western foreigner. I’m curious.”
“Well, they say in my country that curiosity killed the cat and I assure you I plan to,” N’Jadaka says with a sly grin. “You don’t want to have my babies?”
“Honestly, I’ve never pictured my life with babies. And, marriage is an unnecessary technicality.”
“Nah, that’s just because you never met me.”
Smiling at his cockiness, “Why are you so interested in starting a family?”
His whole demeanor changed. “I’m afraid I may not be around long. I must leave a part of me behind.”
“Are you ill?”
“No. Some of your people are not happy I have taken over the throne, you know, killed the King. They don’t agree with my plans for Wakanda refusing to listen to reason. My way is the only way.”
“What way is that?”
“Liberation through war. Freedom must be taken.’
“I don’t understand. Our people are already free.”
“Yes. Wakandans think they are free and safe; their freedom is based on a fallacy. The fallacy that is hidden in this pseudo-freedom. They have believed in this way of thinking for centuries; to hide in plain sight while the rest of the world burns. Many black people across the African diaspora are not free due to lack of resources. Our people have been kidnapped, sold, enslaved, killed, and under continuous discrimination. They are in desperate need of Wakanda’s help. Acquiring the throne was the only way to bring aide to my people. America is sick with racism and my fellow African-Americans are suffering tremendously. I feel like I’m talking too much. How do you spend your days?”
I force myself not to flood him with questions. “Well, my life is not as politically driven. I am a piano instructor. I teach 4th to 7th graders at the local preparatory school how to play the piano.”
“The piano was my father’s, first love. He insisted that I learn under his tutelage. Luckily, I grew to love it and now I can’t live without it. Unfortunately, he is unable to play piano like he did when he was younger. Do you want to learn to play the piano? I provide private one on one lessons.”
He smiles, “nah, I’m musically inept. Believe me. There is no hope for me.”
“You would be surprised. I’ve heard I’m quite magical. There has never been a student incapable of learning under my instruction.”
“You are so sexy. ”
“Why do you say that?”, while blushing.
“Your confidence. It’s always been my weakness. It can be hard to find a woman with true confidence back home. Our society does not encourage unapologetic black women to be confident, especially not plus size women.”
“Plus size? What does that mean?”
N’Jadaka realizes that Ayoka doesn’t understand some of the American vernacular. “A woman’s size is heavily policed and judged in my country. Women feel so much pressure to be thin that many opt to get surgery to change their appearance. Europeans dominate media. They flood our minds with images of white beauty standards. Even our hair in its natural state is frowned upon when attempting to attain employment.”
Ayoka gives all of this a lot of thought. His home sounds so sad and oppressive.
Suddenly there is a knock at the door. The chef brought an array of traditional West African dishes; jollof rice, beef, plantain, fufu, peanut soup, and puff puff for dessert. N’Jadaka waits patiently while she washes your hands in the bowl of water sent with the dinner and then he does the same. The King waits while she picks out her dinner choices. He went for the obvious; jollof rice, beef, plantain. She eats her fufu and peanut soup for in silence; digesting their previous intense conversation. She looks up and catches him watching her dipping her fufu in the peanut soup. “Do you want to try my food?”
He looks up with mischievous eyes. “As a matter of fact, I do. But, I’m not sure how to eat it properly. Show me.”
What a shame. She moves closer to him, she pulls a piece of fufu from her plate and then dips it into the peanut soup. She slowly brings it to his mouth. Staring at her he eats the food right from her fingers. She waits to see if he likes it, “Nandi, kunene?” And, then he leans in to kiss her gently on the mouth. “Indeed, delicious.” She is shocked that he knows her language.
She pulls her focus from his piercing eyes. “Now, you try it. You must use your fingers.”
He leans over to pull a piece of fufu from her plate, dips it into her peanut soup and brings it to her mouth. “Zidla.” Her heart is racing and embarrassed at the possibility that she may have sucked his fingers a second too long. She looks down blushing and clears her throat. “Well, as you can see I love to eat.”
“I see. I love to eat as well,” grinning.
He brings her attention back to the puff puff waiting to be devoured. “Let’s not forget dessert.” They both stare at each other hungrily.
The overwhelming feeling of dread is overshadowing my victory. I have this strong desire to create something, someone. I know this is not truly my home and I don’t know who I can trust. I don’t know how long I will be able to rule here before T’Challa’s supporters take me out. I must leave a piece of me behind. I must hide a part of me in Wakandan soil. It must be groomed. I must do this swiftly. The liberation of my people can not end with me. It must continue through my line. My child will know who I am. It took a long time for me to get here and it’s imperative that I cover all bases. No matter what happens tomorrow after I give my orders, I will leave my seed planted here in this foreign land my father called home.
The women before me represent the possibility of a future. They are all lovely in different ways. I don’t necessarily have a particular type. However, I do recognize aura and energy. And, the confidence oozing from the thick one with her midriff showing reminds me of home. I want to grab her just to see how soft she is under my rough edges. I can’t stop looking at her as I try to will her to look me in the eyes. I understand not looking me in the eye is probably her attempt to show respect, but I bet she is not this bashful in private. Her dark brown skin glows even under the moonlight seeping through the council room. I can tell she takes care of her appearance. Her ample curves arouse me. Her head wrap hides her hair, but those lips… Enough of this, I know what I want.
I signal for W’Kabi to come over. I’ve had enough of the pathetic sobs of loyalty for a man they once called King. I am their King now. W’Kabi and his men escort the grieving women from my presence leaving me alone with her. I wonder if I intimidate her or arouse her as I look her up and down. I walk over to her. She is silent. She doesn’t ask what her business is with me in this castle nor does she give me the cold shoulder. I just want to see her eyes. I want her to know my plans and my desires so she can teach my offspring. I want her to know my name.
The King scans every Wakandan woman brought before him meticulously. He worked from the throne in intense silence which only made all of us extremely nervous. The intensity in his eyes caused a stir of conflict within me. I was afraid yet curious. I want to know him intimately even though I know he was the cause of T’Challa’s death by ritual combat. Who is he? I try to keep my head down only stealing glances whenever he looks away. Guilt fills my mind forcing me to stop staring. He seems to take extra time studying my appearance. He eventually moves on to inspect the other distraught ladies brought before him. A slight smirk came over his face as if he knew a secret. He signals for W’Kabi. As we stand in wait, the King speaks to W’Kabi in whispers.
Sobs and whimpers continue to fill the air with the knowledge of T’Challa’s untimely death freshly etched in our minds. The tribal markings on his ample chest and hard abs are displayed like a badge of honor. His hair is oiled and braided. He is truly beautiful. His tough exterior seems to be solid through and through. Is he truly Wakandan? I wonder. W’Kabi and his men escort the other ladies out of the council chambers. I’m usually not picked for King service but I guess this King desires something a bit plumper. He slowly walks over to me. My heart is racing. I can feel his energy. As he stays in front of me, I keep my head down. Maybe he will dismiss me too if he sees I’m unresponsive. But, instead he tenderly grazes my cheek and then lifts my head forcing me to face him. He finally breaks the silence.
“Look at me”, he commands. Finally, our eyes meet. The fire in his eyes entices me. “Do you know who I am?”
“You are the new King.” He smiles. I had to smile in kind because it was contagious.
“I am King N’Jadaka, Son of Prince N’Jobu.” He pauses allowing this new knowledge to wash over me. “Say my name.” I wonder if this is a serious request until I see him raise an eyebrow waiting to hear it roll off my tongue.
“King N’Jadaka, how can I be of service to you?”
“You will find out soon enough.”