Are we Our Ancestors? (Africa Day Writing Challenge Day 1)

Ian Macharia-0259df8d

In the year we chose not to remember (the year of the pandemic) I stumbled on a book by Nwando Achebe where she described the female gods, kings and merchant queens. This book of little pages took me on a trajectory of questioning the friction between boomer mothers and their millennial/GENZ daughters on feminity, spirituality and being rebellious. As I sat on the DIY hammock I had learnt to make from youtube tightly placed on my balcony, I began to ruminate on the women who threaded this “rebellious” road before me and whose path I might be walking unbeknownst to me.

It has left me questioning…

Do I seem to the world as rebellious because I’m choosing a road once travelled but now forgotten?

Maybe my ancestors went through slavery so I don’t have to.

Could I be Nefertiti whose beauty is unmatched, as I chart my path to understanding what beautiful means?

Could I be Efunronye Tinubu, the trader and kingmaker who had Lagos and Abeokuta in the palm of her hands? Could she be teaching me to own my feminine energy, and use it to take up space in every ‘market’ i find myself in. Could I be like her at every husband’s house? Could my quest to be independent and not be pressured into marriage be her way of reminding me to take up space?

 Could I, like Efunroye be the wife of a king, the stepmother of another, and the sister-in-law of a third? To each of these rulers, she provided political, economic, and military support: protection in exile, and backing in succession struggles. Could I be the good antagonist in my script?

Maybe I am #Sorosoke Queen Amina (fifteenth or sixteenth century) of Hausaland (present-day Nigeria) leading a fierce army of twenty thousand horsemen into battle, annexing surrounding states and demanding tributes from them. The ruins of some of her fortifications still stand today. Her reign saw the expansion and spread of kola nut cultivation and the establishment of long-distance trade routes into North Africa. Indeed, so powerful is the memory of her exploits that songs of her deeds are still sung today.

Could I have a part of Princess Inikpi of Idah living in me with the will to die for her own, her country, her lover? In an attempt to save the Igala kingdom,  ordered a large hole be dug near the bank of the Niger and Benue rivers. To the horror of her subjects, Princess Inikpi descended into the hole, accompanied by nine of her slaves, and she ordered that it be tightly closed with earth. Princess Inikpi had been buried alive. Because of the courage and selflessness shown by young Princess Inikpi, her people elevated her to the rank of a goddess.

Am I the merchant queens of west Africa who made trade a hustle?  Could “Signare, Bibiana Vuz de França”,  be calling forth to me that, as she was, I have become too powerful, that the Portuguese Crown  (society) is seeking ways to wrestle away her power, influence, authority, and wealth. As a result, the Crown falsely accused her of tax evasion and leading a rebellion. Could my audacity be a threat to the world?

Could the Aba women’s rebellion be a reminder for me never to see myself as a taxable object, to see myself as a functioning subject full of poise, grandeur and wit- a subject with high spiritual energy? How do you put a price on a female whose strength is highly spiritual? How?

Sometimes I feel I hear Omu Okwei call forth to me reminding me never to see myself as a slave to my husband but that every partner I choose to be with should be for a purpose, and in the event, I feel stifled,  I’ll marry a wife for him or else how would you explain why I don’t feel the need to cower to this man as my mother once taught me to do?

Could Olokun be calling forth to my “eleda” (spirit head), leading me back to the spiritual path and power she inherited from Ifa? Could she be telling me that that which I find, is rooted in my ancestors and to experience true joy, I would need to come back home?

Could I be manifesting memories, life skills, knowledge, fears strengths and practices of my lineage? Could the spirits of my descendant and their descendants serve as my torchbearers through life?

Could it be vaguely possible that the things I enjoy doing, the spaces I feel naturally at home and easy to me are the same spaces my ancestors had done the hard work for? Are my ancestors and would I be one someday?


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