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The Narrative of a Genome

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She couldn’t relax. Our distant mother let’s call her Lebila, her DNA haplogroup was L3b1a. She was so in demand that traces of her are found all over the world except Antartica. She may have been quite beautiful, long graceful arms and legs, dark skin, kinky curls with bright eyes that glimmered like a dark night alive with fireflies, when she smiled. We may never know.

Whether she was an adult when she reached these shores or a child not yet in adolescence remains a mystery. All that is known is that she was very much in demand for either her labor or her love. She was never allowed to  relax. Over sixty thousand years ago her mother left the Great Rift Valley in Eastern Africa,  let’s call her Leyva, her DNA haplogroup was  L3b and she was born in either Ethiopia or Addis Ababa. Her 4x great grandmother an L2-6 mutated from an L1-6  and this recombination likely occurred once in every three-thousand  years.

Leyva may have been captured in the Arabian slave  trade somewhere near the Horn of Africa, a peninsula which extends like an outstretched  arm into the Arabian Sea. The Arab slave trade which began in the mid-seventh century still survives today in Mauritania  and Sudan. Once  captured she was probably taken to the slave markets of Zanzibar and sold by a Berber or an Arab  merchant to a Sultan of Islam to be his  domestic servant,  or his private dancer, or concubine. She could have been trained in domestic activities, learning to keep house, if a virgin, she would have brought a  high  price.

Her daughters haplogroup M and N  let’s call them Mayling and Nairobi, either left  Africa and inhabited the  rest of the world moving  first to North Africa or South  Asia, but her sisters migrated west. Our mother Lebila,  amongst  them either in a migratory  flow  seeking arable land to farm, or as a captive of an Arab slavemaster, or fleeing Arab subjugation and colonialism.

Somehow, our mother Lebila found her way to the West  Coast of Africa South of the Sahara. She and our ascendants may have settled near Lake Chad a large shallow body of water which is all that  remains  of a  former  Sea. She lived in Cameroon  one of  the four countries surrounding  Lake Chad  which includes Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, and she may  have spoken Kwa a bantu language. She may have  spoken several bantu languages fluently such as  Yoruba, Hausa,  Igbo, Kanuri, Ibibio and Fulfulde.

Bantu in our Blood

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There be Bantu in our blood,
Inkongo, and Budya,
Bassa-vah, and Swahili,
Ganda, Ga, and Ba-kossi,
if Kikuyu, then Macame,
spring from Kota? then Mahongwe,
all lovers of the song,
all writer’s of the wrong,
from the valley of the  rift,
we carried this thick swift,
language of our mother tongue,
thick as alluvial mud,
‘Cause there be Bantu in our blood.

We come from the Mountains of the Moon,
to the Mount of Cameroon,
from the Bight of Biafra,
to the plight of the diaspora,
we demand, the Bantu that was stole,
give us our words to restore our soul,
but we from Benin, always  winnin’
made a language all our own,
Washita muur,  or Seminole song,
language people, hooked on phonics,
we be talkin’ wit’ ebonics,
the same who created scattin’
are the same one’s created Pig Latin,
it don’t matter we be rappin’
Gullah, Creole, Patois,
!Klick, Kru, Sheetswa,
always quick to ask, “Say what?”
‘Cause there be Bantu in our blood.

We be spittin’ Hottentotten,
jazz, the blues, we’ll spoil you rotten,
we be speakin’ Wolof too,
French or English, parlais vu?
Before us, the King’s language was a dud,
But we injected Bantu in its blood.

~victori  10/2/12

Fed up

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So fed up with the rape and the lies,
my granddad ran away,
but they brought him back twice,
They cut off his foot the last time that he ran,
lt served its purpose made him feel less than a man.

He would’ve been worthless,
had they cut off his hands.
That Sunday they went to church,
and spoke about Christ,
how he healed the sick,
and caused the dead to rise.
If you speak about freedom,
then it comes with a price,
They preached how he made,
the ultimate sacrifice.

So fed up with the rape and the lies.
My grandma was raped,
right before grandaddy’s eyes,
by his own father, and she gave birth twice,
She named one Joe, the other one Ann,
Granddad never touched grandma again,
It served its purpose,
made him feel less than a man.

Massa went to war,
and brought his faithful slave Joe,
Up until then Joe didn’t know,
Until, grandma told, then it all hit the fan,
Massa used Joe as a human sheild,
to uphold the Confederacy was Massa’s will.

Joe had another plan,
he laid down on the field,
so that the bullets struck massa,
and he was killed,
which ended massa’s service,
and the Union did stand,
but it served another purpose,
made Joe feel more like a man!

victori Sep  16, 2012

Happy Endings

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On turning fifty…

At some point you lose, sight of the fight,
get confused and forget,
when you look back over your life,
just what you were fighting for?
by that time your mind is set,
and you refuse to fight anymore.

Passenger of my own doubt,
driver of my own fear,
no stranger to pain,
and troubles, I’ve had my share,
I’ve called on the Lord,
but never in vain,
and entertained angels unaware.

At age fourteen, I had a dream,
about how life should be,
by twenty-one I’d finish school,
not  be a fool, and be married by twenty-three,
by twenty-four I’d have a child,
who’d  look  exactly like me.

Instead, I stayed in bed too long, or on the run,
’cause that dream escapes me,
I found myself at forty-one,
no daughter nor son, waking up alone,
still unmarried at fifty, single to the bone,
but feeling rather nifty!

I no longer believe in fairy tales,
nor do tears replace the laughter,
I realize the time I’ve wasted,
not reading  between the lines,
and as I close another chapter,
I no longer seek for truth in signs,
nor for lies, of happily-ever-after.

~victori Oct 1, 2012

From the Congo to the Ghetto

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Arising before Congo dawns,
to fresh air and gentle breezes,
the merchants, traders and artisans,
worked until daylight ceased.

They built homes carved from ogbegbe trees,
along tree lined avenues,
and wove silk sails, to sail the seas,
in hand crafted wooden canoes.

Talking drums, and braided hair,
and funerals bedecked in white,
drank palm wine, and played Oware,
our culture at its height.

Congo nights, of waning sun,
and dancing beneath the trees,
before the coming to Alkebulan
of the Portuguese.

Our language lost, we seek in vain,
and endlessly endeavor,
to secure passage rites, and regain,
our culture that was severed.

Although, we were content, whether,
our roots were Bantu, Ilebo, or Bushongo,
seems we can’t remember ever,
living in the Congo.

Arising now, before ghetto noons,
to pollution and an ozone layer,
unemployed December to jobless June,
surviving on a wing and a prayer.

Tenements and slums,
along littered avenues,
drunkards and illiterate bums,
and crack houses to abuse.

Processed hair and ghetto boxes,
blaring on the night,
synthetic drugs and narcotic toxins,
our culture in  its flight,

Ghetto nights of uzi’s exploding,
and brother’s  dying in the street,
a recurring sense of depression aboding,
but difficult to defeat.

Though our vision be blinded,
by our  oppresor’s hand
we seek to be reminded
of another land.

And though,  we are troubled yet,
from Watts to the townships of Soweto,
seems we can’t, ever seem to forget,
living in the ghetto.