Admittedly, it’s been the proverbial “long and winding road” for the African who had been brought, unwillingly, in shackles and under the most inhuman conditions to the “New World.” In 1757, the black man in the US was legally deemed 3/5 of a man. In 1857 (100 years later), the US Supreme Court ruled that the black man had no rights that a white man had to respect. The Africans were not only denied their “human right” but, in the nature of things, stripped of their languages, names and thereby identities.
Noted black American poet Maya Angelou said, “The wrenching pain of the African slavery experience cannot be unlived.” Someone else claimed that black Americans were robbed of their history, and now they’re reclaiming it for future generations.
Some cynics might tend to dismiss this as “mawkish sentimentality,” but in my view the calypso Take Me Back Africa, penned by calypso composer “Joker” Devine and voiced by Machel Montano, was “spot on.”
As Devine saw it, speaking to a composite image of the African slave and his descendant, “I am a victim of disillusion… a soul without a resting place… lonely pilgrim without a vision… wanderer in time and space… searching for my identify. Take me back, Africa.” Obviously, the “Africa” alluded to here doesn’t encompass a geographical or even contemporary one but some idealised, romanticised configuration of an imaginative entity embodying Africa’s glorious past and rich historical heritage.