Archives for posts with tag: Black Lives Matter

Lutomia1
The Return
by Anne Namatsi Lutomia

In Ghana also once known as The Gold Coast
Exist twelve forts now world heritage sites
Built by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and an Ashanti King
Elmina Castle aka St. George of the mine castle was my point of return

Full of fear and curiosity, I visited Elmina Castle in Cape Coast
Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the coastal town
Spying waves of the Atlantic Ocean smashing the black stones on the      beach
Was welcomed into a sad, empty, dirty whitewashed fort with brown roof      tiles

Now descendants return to see, smell, touch and pay homage to their      ancestors
Entering various doors in the castle
Doors where people and goods stolen, snatched, taken away were      exchanged
At the door of no return, people now slaves left for good

I entered the rooms at Elmina, rooms of a lived contradiction
Of a normalized life by the slave master
Rooms where life was enjoyed to the fullest
Rooms where misery was felt to the fullest

Above a church, kitchen, bedrooms and dining room
Rooms where deals were made
Rooms where rape took place
Rooms where the master lived

At the bottom dungeons and slave rooms
The female dungeon where I felt their spirits and smelled them
The solitary confinement where the guide shut me in – I screamed
And the door of no return where I saw the Atlantic Ocean and the boats

As I left the castle, I read the Elmina Castle plaque
A promise for similar injustice never occur
A memory of those who had died
An invitation to those who return

PHOTO: “Elmina Castle, 2016” by Anne Namatsi Lutomia.

licensed Nancy Haggarty

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 in a location known in the present day as Elmina, Ghana. The site was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara Desert. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became a stop on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Captives, both men and women, were imprisoned at the castle, and later branded, placed on a ship, and sent to a foreign land, where they were auctioned off, then sent to work for their owners. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain. The Gold Coast, which is now Ghana, gained its independence in 1957 from Britain, and assumed control of the castle. Elmina Castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  (Source: Wikipedia)

PHOTO: Skull and crossbones mark the door to the dungeon at Elmina Castle for male slaves slated to be transported on ships and sold at auction. Credit: Nancy Haggarty, used by permission.

licensed sergey mayorov

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a trip that I took to Ghana in 2016. Although I am not a descendant of slaves, I visited the castle to learn and to pay homage to those who had undergone this dehumanizing experience. My visit stayed with me and gave me greater understanding regarding African Americans and others whose ancestors were enslaved.

PHOTOS: Elmina Castle, Ghana, on Atlantic Ocean, by Sergey Mayorov, used by permission. Sign at Elmina Castle by Anne Namatsi Lutomia (2016).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Namatsi Lutomia is a budding poet and a member of Champaign Urbana (Illinois) poetry group. She enjoys writing poems about her lived experience and nature. She writes poems in Swahili on Twitter in malumbano style, where poets respond to each other through their poems. She has published poems with BUWA and recently published a poem in the Silver Birch Press Wearing a Mask Series.

Licensed Patrick Morrissey
Let’s Hear It for the Horses
by Tricia Knoll

One million dead in the Civil War,
if you count the mules.
Which I do.

I say, blowtorch the rebel men
off their statue mounts and keep
the horses prancing on their pedestals.

They were not traitors
to their country, showed no sign
of caring who they carried,

black or white, male or
female. No one questions
their service to equality.

They did the work
they were asked to do
without a nod at glory.

Previously published in the author’s collection How I Learned To Be White. 

PHOTO: Monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Charlottesville, Virginia, by Patrick Morrissey, used by permission. The photo shows an orange safety barrier erected around the monument to prevent vandalism.

Tim_Kaine_inspects_a_makeshift_memorial_to_Heather_Heyer

EDITOR’S NOTE: In April 2017, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, voted, by a margin of three to two, to remove the Robert E. Lee monument as a remnant of the city’s Confederate past and defense of slavery.  During the following months, protests erupted over the statue’s removal. On August 12, 2017, counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a protester drove his car into a crowd that had gathered to support the monument’s elimination. Two years later, in June 2019, James Fields, 22, was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years for the crimes. A Virginia law went into effect on July 1, 2020 giving local governments broad powers to take down war memorials. Charlottesville is now in attempting to have a judge remove a prior injunction preventing the city from taking down the statue.  As of late July 2020, the Robert E. Lee monument remains in place.

PHOTO: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine stands before a makeshift memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed by James Fields on August 12, 2017 in a car ramming incident. (Source: Office of Senator Tim Kaine.)

licensed viacheslav nemyrivskyi

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I have been horse crazy since I was a child. At the age of 72, I just finished a book on the history of wild horses around the world by Dayton O. Hyde. I admire the horses who sit under the Confederate generals in statues around the country. I am glad to see the statues coming down, but I think too of the horses.

PHOTO: Woman and horse at sunset by Viacheslav Nemyrivskyi, used by permission.

tricia-knoll

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tricia Knoll’s work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her collected books of poetry include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box). Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at triciaknoll.com. Find her on Amazon and Twitter.