I imagined John Blanke as smiling as he rubs Argan Oil into his arms and see the mahogany reflected in the melanin of his muscled limbs as he walks through the court of the “Petulant King”.
I picture him as one of my ancestors who have come and gone unheralded, mythical beings who have been handed down through the generations until they are now grainy pictures in the mind.
The ancestors of the slavery years haunt me with a melancholy that comes from knowing that no matter what potential they had as they travelled the 9 months from conception to the birth canal, most of it would not be realised. The notion that a human being still attached to the umbilical cord of its mother is a slave is the most unbearable of things. Before that child is born, before it takes the first suck of its mother’s teat, even before its conception, the potential of that child is enslaved. Imagine if that was your child.
I am a descendant of slaves and the result of slavery. The Atlantic trade was the starting point in a new and perilous journey that nature made in my name a few hundred years ago. I am in the middle of that journey and the final destination is unknown.
Those realities that have made me, also denied who I ought to have been, from ever becoming real. That me drifted off into a parallel universe where hopefully, I grew up in the love, security and traditions of the past thousands of years in the river beds, plains and valleys of West Africa.
The new me after all this time, will look you in the eye and proudly say, I was, I am and I will become again, what I was always intended to be. I give great homage to my ancestors.
I imagine John Blanke still smiling, as he reads this and realises that he was one of the lucky ones. He avoided the Maafa, The Great Maangamizi.
Poet and Storyteller
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