Survivor's Notebook



The return home to one’s roots is an essential journey. It involves returning in one’s heart and mind, to live as one’s Ancestors once did.

The basic survival instinct is to return home. No matter how far away from home we travel, whether kidnapped, stranded or lost, the quest to return home is priority for any human being. Imagine forgetting where or what home is, or even being born away from home. Imagine living in a place where every symbol that represents your home is considered evil, ignorant or obsolete. If you become convinced that there is nothing valuable about your place of origin, what will you call home? The very place that has convinced you that you have nothing to gain from your roots will be where you seek comfort, guidance, support, refuge, etc. This place will teach you your ideas of right and wrong, freedom, justice, equality, success, beauty, love… It will be your source of pride. If you are happy, it’s because this place has accepted you. If it does not, it can make your life a living hell.

Home is not just where you lay your head to sleep at night. Home is what shapes you. It’s what makes you who you are. It defines what you will do and what you won’t do. How should we react when we follow what our society has taught us, only to find ourselves and so many others like us oppressed, attacked, impoverished, rejected and exploited by that same society? Should we question whether that society is really our home? Should we question what that society has taught us?

It is no secret that people of color have been victims of this system of enslavement which was produced in Europe and spread globally. In the United States, descendants of enslaved Africans have been struggling just to be treated as human beings since before this country was founded. The fact that we have not yet begun to return to our home in large numbers is proof that our enslavers have succeeded in breaking our survival instinct. The memory of what it really means to be Kem (Black) has been so thoroughly erased that we no longer see ourselves as the same people. How can we not be the same people as our Ancestors?

The return home to one’s roots is an essential journey. It involves returning in one’s heart and mind, to live as one’s Ancestors once did.

Pilgrims in the city of Ouidah, Benin, formerly major slave port.

Repatriation literally means to return to the land of one’s father (patrie in French). Let’s observe that there is currently nothing preventing us from returning home beside our own lack of effort. All the means exist for us to be able to go. It only takes for us to decide that we want to go home and then take the steps required to get there. This fact alone proves that repatriation is more than just physically going. For us to even decide to go means that there is something valuable at home that we are not finding where we are. Could this be the case?

The common misperception is that despite the endless wars, poverty, drug abuse, violence, police brutality, joblessness, broken homes, etc. which have defined our experience here, these United States are still the best places for us to live. Is that right? Let’s take a break for a reality check. Meritah (Africa) has it’s problems, just like any other place, but the places with the most problems are the places most heavily influenced by the US and Europe. In places where our brothers and sisters live the same way our Ancestors lived before they were packed in slave ships, life is hard, but life is good. If you don’t know, maybe nobody told you.

Travel to any place in Meritah and you will see your brothers and sisters. We smile, laugh and joke with each other. We greet each other like we care about how everyone is doing, because we do. We share even when we have little. We help each other. We have our own language, we don’t have to borrow the enslaver’s language. We have our own food, our own clothes, our own Gods, our own values, our own culture. We don’t need to borrow somebody else’s culture. When we have problems, we solve them our own way because we have our own government. We have our own kings. That’s right, we have real kings still today, not presidents, not dictators, but kings, queens, priests, healers, elders, etc. We have everything we need.

The best part about home isn’t just that it belongs to us. The best part is that our culture works. Marriages and families work. Government works. Spirituality works. Medicine works. Agriculture works. Science works. Everything works, and it works without us attacking our neighbors to make it work. It works without us enslaving humanity to make it work. It works without us destroying nature to make it work. It works without human beings turning into parasites to make it work. It works because for over 100,000 years, we have been doing our best to make our culture the best for everyone in it. The problems humanity is trying (unsuccessfully) to solve now have been solved already, a very, very long time ago, not just for black people, but for all of humanity.

When we say that Meritah is the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization, we mean that it is the home that humanity has strayed so far away from in this modern era. If we are honest, we must admit that we are headed in the wrong direction by declaring that the further we get away from our roots, the more progress we are making. It’s time for us to turn around and see the beauty and brilliance of what we’ve left behind.

When our Ancestors were taken from home against their will, they were still children of the same fathers and mothers as the children who stayed home. The process of colonization has turned the children of the enslaved into strangers to their own parents and siblings. Let’s face it, we are strangers to our home now.

Even if we wake up tomorrow in a hut in our Ancestral village, home will be strange to us. We probably won’t like it because every opinion we have been colonized to have will make us reject it. We need to see that for what it is. The one who enslaved our Ancestors, the one who, even today, only sees us as firewood to be put in the furnace to power this machine of destruction, is our enemy. Any idea we get from our enemy is only put there to destroy us. We can’t afford to continue to throw our lives away. It’s time for us to go home. It will have to start inside our minds and our hearts. Meritah, our beloved land, our home is waiting for us to return.

If, in the bush, you find yourself twice under the same tree, know that you are lost.

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