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  • Akosua Biraa

We all want go back home

Updated: May 25, 2022

what I know about de juju

de dogs bark

take the enemy by surprise

quietly as possible

fight him face to face

like a man

sit up wid de dead man

dey teachee us mo’ war

integrity destroyed

kill de leopard

the king sacrifices many slaves

dat my boy

hurtee his Mama

de six chillun together

clam up de side de barracoon

not so sad now

no king in ‘Merica soil

bring yo’ plate

bed and bed cover

and fetch yo’ own grub

ain’ able to work no mo’

thinkee too ‘bout my folks

and cry

memory is to be

house full of thoughts

how lonely we are too

in this still foreign land

This piece is composed solely out of phrases taken randomly from Zora Neale Hurston’s “Barracoon: The story of the last slave”. This is work published posthumously by The Zora Neale Hurston Trust (2018/2019).

The book is Hurston’s detailed anthropological account on an important and central aspect of the formation of the USA, as experienced by 90-year-old Cudjo Lewis (born Oluale Kossula). In August 1931, Lewis entrusted Hurston with his memories of life on the African continent, his horrifying capture (50 years after the abolition of slavery), and the trying time he spent in slavery. We now also get to be witness to this precious testimony from a harrowing period of US history.

Barracoon is a recent purchase of mine that I am really looking forward to reading, because of the evocative and weighty quality of Hurston’s literary and academic work. I already own “Their Eyes Were Watching God”—read it ages ago, alongside “Dust Tracks on a Road” and “Mules and Men”. All very powerful work indeed!

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