The African Students Community at Drew (AfriSCaD), in collaboration with Black Ministerial Caucus (BMC), held a Zoom session in celebration of Black History Month. The session’s theme was “If Oceans Speak: African Diaspora Untold Stories.”
The first speaker was Dr. Kenneth Ngwa, who shared the news of the African Union’s launch of The Diaspora Division and shared the story of Kimpa Vita (1684-1706). Prof. Malukele shared this about the prolific leader, Kimpa Vita, “the most radical thing about her movement was that there was a young African woman, asserting her leadership skills and insisting that women were legitimate bearers of visions, dreamers of dreams.” Dr. Ngwa affirmed that fearlessness is in my DNA.
Yesterday was my first encounter with Dr. Arthur Pressley, of course. He offered a reflection that transported us to Ghana’s slave castles, and one of the castles was Cape Coast. I do not know whether it was Dr. Pressley’s voice or the brilliant stringing of the words or his storytelling gift or the story itself that transported me through the Door-Of-No-Return. It was real. The terror, disorientation, unanswered prayers to the Divine, and the pain of being ‘sold’ by one of their own (for some) came alive. Dr. Pressley’s reflection was a reminder that resilience is in my soul.
Then Dr. Althea Spencer-Miller ended the session with a rhythm that wanted me to ululate at the end of her share. Dr. Spencer-Miller landed me firmly in one of those ships which plundered Africa’s west coast. The forced occupants, having to find their foot on inhospitable ships with people they did not know, meant they had to find a rhythm. A rhythm unfamiliar to them yet one that would work. So Dr. Spencer-Miller bought in all sorts of drums. There is something she said, and now I wish I had written it down, but it went something like: “drums… the heartbeat of our love.” But it was the variations of the name of Jesus, in different African accents when recited long-enough and fast-enough, you will hear justice.
I received Dr. Spencer-Miller’s share as a reminder of the liberating love of Christ Jesus, a gift to my spirit.