Could it be you've heard of me,
though we've never chanced to meet?
or maybe, we shared a common ancestor,
amid the Saharan heat?
My ancestors were Fulani,
Yoruba and Oyo,
Our cousins were Ashanti,
Hausa and Sokoto,
I am the Mansa's daughter,
The Griot from Segu,
Could it be we've met before,
somewhere in Timbuctoo?
My mother? An Angolan warrior,
fighting the Portuguese,
In Queen Nzingha's army,
bringing white men to their knees,
My brothers? all noblemen,
scholars at Jenne´
before the transatlantic voyage,
seized them from Goree´
We were the language people,
fluent in Bantu and in Boor,
before they suppressed our languages,
our customs, and our mores,
They churched us with Jesus,
in the belly of 'The Whale'
before they sold us into slavery,
and delivered us straight to hell,
divided us by dozens,
and separated us by lots,
branded each of my cousins,
to be sold, bartered, bought,
Could be that you know me,
think you've seen my face before?
because they separated my family,
as soon as we reached the shore,
Sold my brother to a rural planter,
Sold my mother to an urban store,
kept my sister in the big house,
and forced her to become massa's whore,
Could be that you've seen Tom?
can you tell me which way he run?
To the setting of the sun,
He plotted insurrection.
the day he broke his chains,
can you tell me in which direction,
He ran off in the rain?
Could be he followed a northern star,
on an underground train,
He is my grandpa,
bound by a DNA chain,
and what a story he could tell,
if only he had a name to claim
and a "free" paper trail.
Could it be you know me now?
Don't I look the same?
Could it be you seen me,
just a little while ago?
fighting to be free,
from Jim Crow
You think I should turn the page?
You tell me to get over it,
say the pain will subside with age,
but until you've ever lost a loved one,
then you can't understand my rage,
I thought slavery had ended
in the year of jubilee,
instead I found my love offended,
tarred and feathered,
strung from a tree,
even after two Civil Rights bills,
we still ain't free,
I know now you know me,
I know now that you do,
Allow me to introduce myself,
For brother I am you!
Victori © written 1992 second revision