freedom, redemption and inspiration

bob marley, black and whiteone of the people to whom i passed on my “brilliant blog” award, sojourner, has a meme, sunday inspirations. similar to wordless wednesday, it’s a day of the week dedicated to a theme. it was created in honor of sojourner’s mother

and is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say thank ya … your weekly contribution may very well be the inspiration that someone else may need and has been looking for

sojourner’s place itself is a blog that inspires me, with a great mix of southern graciousness, politics, spirituality and an emphasis on the lives of professional african-american women.

so i’d like to participate today, with an excerpt from the novel i’m working on. it’s about a slave, joe (or kosi, his african name) on one of the first sugar plantations in louisiana. one day he runs away, and dies on his escpape. since i’m writing this novel in the shape of magical realism, it doesn’t end there. after he dies, he meets a cranky entity who offers to show him heaven. heaven turns out to be a bit boring, so they fly on over to africa, where joe/kosi meets animals and people he’s never met before, and is also confronted with becoming a new person. yes, yes, i know he’s dead – but as i said, it’s magical realism. here he sits, among a bunch of people gathered on a sunday evening somewhere in present-day louisiana and talks about his experience of starting to realize that he could become someone else, someone new, someone awakening. the song he refers to is a melody that weaves itself throughout the book.

people, this is hard for me to talk about, even after all this time, 200 years almost, the way you-all count it. so many feelings have left me, and i tell you, that’s a good thing, but sorrow, that’s one i still have. sorrow and joy. it’s not joyful for me to talk about that time but i know i must, i must tell my story, the way we all must. telling our true story, that’s what sets us free. and that’s what it’s all about. freedom.

i have sorrow for that man back there in africa, in dahomey, i know it’s called benin now. he was so sightless. both looking inside himself and looking outside, there was so little he saw. this was the time of his awakening, in his death he awoke, and that’s not an easy thing.

today i sit here, speaking through an old man, dick of all people, i know, that’s funny but who knows what’s going on in a mind? maybe when he wakes up tomorrow from his hangover he’ll remember a tiny bit of this, and maybe it’ll move him along to more freedom?

the song? you want to hear the song? i can’t sing it here, not with dick’s old voice; not because he can’t sing, that doesn’t matter and it’s a crazy notion anyway, that there are people who can’t sing. but his heart isn’t ready yet, it’s not in his heart yet, and that’s the only way it can be sung. where the voice and the heart come together. it’s gotta be not just there in his heart, lying there, it has to take root, that song.

but tell you what. you listen to this other guy, what’s his name, a brother, and i tell you, not just because he’s got dark skin, what’s his name, long hair, from down that other country, jamaica – that’s his song, anyway.

and dick, or joe, or whoever it was, started singing, in a quiet voice …

won’t you help to sing
these songs of freedom? –
cause all i ever have:
redemption songs;
redemption songs.

emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
none but ourselves can free our minds.
have no fear … have no fear … have no fear …

… these songs of freedom …

image by unlockok

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