Monday, March 26, 2012

52 Week 13 - Sojourner Truth: The Wanderer

A Woman
There’s power in names. The freedom to choose and have your very own name is something we all take for granted, but there’s something extremely empowering about this act. In a lot of instances, it can even be radical and revolutionary. 

Sojourner truth was the chosen moniker of Isabella Baumfree, well known for being an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was born a slave in New York, but through an immense fortitude, managed to escape to freedom. She then spent the rest of her life crusading In favour of the abolition of slavery. Her famous speech ‘Ain’t I a woman?’ was a tour de force. I’ve excerpted a small piece of it, and I encourage you to read the whole thing along with any of her others. They’re quite illuminating.

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?”

The rest can be seen here: Ain't I a Woman?

She famously won a case against one of the slaveholders who sold her son illegally, making her one of the few Blacks to win a legal victory during the slavery era. She suffered countless indignities during her time as a slave, but she always retained her calm, dignified grace.

She was deeply religious and this informed her views greatly, and after changing her name to Sojourner Truth, she joined the abolitionist and became a speaker for the cause, traveling across the US. She also was instrumental in recruiting former slaves to fight for the Union in the American Civil War and among her supporters and friends included luminaries such as Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and William Lloyd Garrision. She died a free woman, at a ripe old age and has received countless accolades and honors since then.

Greatest quote:
Truth is powerful and it prevails.”

52 Week 13 - Into the Fog

The Unknown

Love the unknown and
Embrace that which is unseen 
To find inner peace
Where nightmares come true...
Inspired by the criminally underrated film, 'Rocket Science'. I wish I had the courage to always take the plunge, leave fear behind, embrace that which is unseen, and live life beyond the veil. Any religious undertones are entirely coincidental.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Outtakes - Broken Chain

Broken Cage

Even through the black
The Blue skies remain with me
I’m Forever free

Swallow the combination and forget it...

Monday, March 19, 2012

52 Week 12 - Sea and Sky


No place I can be
Since I found serenity
No place left for me
A scene so tranquil...

52 Week 12 - Bai Bureh: Warrior

The Guerrilla

I’m all too familiar with the scourge of colonialism. I remember as a youngster, reading about the history of colonized countries, including Sierra Leone and Ghana. I always found it funny that the British abolished the slave trade, then slavery and swiftly proceeded to set up colonies that propagated slavery in all but name. It was never surprising even when I was very young. That’s always been the arc of humanity. Do the right thing, then do something even worse to make up for it.

I was always heartened though by the fact that there was never a shortage of resistance to colonial rule. I remember reading the stories and being taught the history of this resistance and one of the first names we learned about was Bai Bureh. 

Bai Bureh was a Sierra Leonean ruler and military strategist who led a year-long guerrilla campaign against the British colonial rulers. He was stubbornly independent and refused to give in to British rule. It all reached a tipping point when the British instituted a ‘hut tax’ on the homes of all residents of Sierra Leone. Bai Bureh and his subjects refused to pay and he fomented staunch resistance to the British. He led his men on daring raids into British territories and was able to use innovative guerrilla tactics and military strategies to thwart the British for almost a year. This was despite their massive advantage in men and supplies. It was deeply embarrassing to the British who prided themselves on their military prowess, and they placed a large bounty on his head. He retaliated by placing a larger bounty on the British General’s head, further cementing his legendary status among his people. 

It was ultimately for naught as he was captured and in a sign of how much the British respected (or feared) him, they exiled him, rather than executing him. He was allowed to return years later where he had the honour of dying in the land that he fought so valiantly for. He left behind a legacy as one of the most revered Sierra Leoneans and he is rightfully celebrated as one of our greatest citizens. He was one of the last of the great warrior-kings who defied the British and their barbarous rule.

Greatest quote:
“I would rather die than not be free...”