Origin

by Jacqueline T. Nkhonjera

“Wow, your English is so good. You sound American. You don’t even have an accent” …

An American accent is an accent. You make up like 322 million of north of a billion English speakers world wide – that’s not even 50%!
You do NOT get to set the standard. 
And if one more person asks me why I speak the way that I do, I will respond with a pinch of salt and a dash of colonial history and say: “Because I was forced to”. 
Decades of white men tying knots in my mother’s tongue and demanding that she annotate Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the blood that drips down her chin.

“I love your turban, your hat, your head thing” …

Oh, you mean my wrap? 
If you must know, there is a plethora of family secrets and spirituals 
That reside within these folds that only the likes of Kente and Chitenge materials can withhold.

“I love Africa. I wish I knew a little more about that place” …

So you want to know what pigment tastes like 
What melanin smells like
What colour feels like
Like soil, I say
Like soil, I am 
Flesh and history 
Flesh and journey
My body – the juxtaposition of slavery and emancipation
My pores seep sweet and sour 
My tears smell like holy water.

I dipped my feet in the River Nile last summer
and I bathed in the waters of Nefertiti
The waves seeped through the cracks in my soles.
and found their way into my veins 
My blood is as thick as Makeda’s 
It flows to the rhythm of that of Ya Aasantewaa.

You seem surprised 
Did you not know that I have generations of queens and centuries of silence gushing through my system? 
That these words that I speak are cloaked in the prayers of my great grandmother’s sister?
I am her dream come true. 
I am her dream come true.

Don’t ask me where I’m at or where I’m going
Ask me where I am from 
What I am from
Who I am from
I am from more than “turban, hat, head things”, “broken English”, and “sun kissed skin”.

I am from the elders who once traveled through my father’s veins
From oily stew and orange squash
From men who plow fields with broken hips 
From women who make a living off of their finger tips.
From a continent of land, light and loss
I am Africa
Born and bred
Cut me up and I bleed black not red
The glitter in my pigment will never grow old
My stretch marks are painted silver and gold.

I am of full lips, thick thighs, and mahogany colored everything

I am soil, I say
I am soil, I am 
Flesh and history 
Flesh and Journey

And I am here.

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