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The Spirit of Juneteenth

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Manatita is an esteemed author living in London, UK. He writes spiritual books, flash fiction and esoteric poetry, his favourite genre.

The Triangular Passage


The Middle Passage

The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, also known as the Middle Passage, due to its route, was predominantly the trafficking of enslaved Africans, from as early as the 15th century, mainly between Europe and the Americas.

Figures vary, but it is said by some historians, that nearly 30 million of the enslaved died across this route, taken from their homes in raids on Africa, initially by the Portuguese as early as 1536, although enslavement itself started in Africa began as early as the 15th century and it is said that even the Romans kept slaves.

The enslaved were used for quick profits springing from greed and the production of labour for sugar, wine, cotton-picking and other rich enterprises in those times. Of course when a people is being taken, treated cruelly and exploited in such huge numbers, rebellion will arise and many Africans never made it to the shores of their predators.

In the early nineteenth century, moves were made to free the enslaved and somewhere in the 21st century, a few governments apologised, for the atrocities performed in nearly 500 years of struggle by the African diaspora for freedom.

My poem depicts the celebration and hopes of the African-Americans to remove their chains, but more than that, the Spirit of a people who refused to be broken in their quest for the core values of American life, so aptly indicated by Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers of America.

Atlantic slave trade - Wikipedia

An enslaved auction in South Carolina 1796

An enslaved auction in South Carolina 1796

The Spirit of Juneteenth

The next time you’re insulted, told you’ve

Got a Jamaican name because You’re

Called Leroy, Donovan or Abraham, say it’s

Untrue, rather that you’re a product of 600

Years of colonialism, bigotry, inequity and injustice.

The next time that someone calls you a

Slave, or, even worse, a ‘freed slave’, say

That the unborn shows no evidence of

Shackles and chains; no neck-collars and

Thumb-screws, such as those forced on

Your African ancestors, who were all

Freely delivered from their mother’s wombs.

Perhaps you can remind them of the forced

Enslavement, the indignity of The Trans-Atlantic

Journeys, of the strong and stately African people,

Drifting helplessly between life and death, huddled

Together by heartless, hostile and greedy

Predators; packed like sardines on overcrowded ships.

Africans aboard ship during the Middle Passage

The Middle Passage

The Middle Passage

Yet we must Love; even as the indigo moon

Covers the night with its luminance, so too, we

Must not only rise as the radiant dawn, but make

Room for the sunset, kissing the crimson edge of

The horizon. For only thus can we share our neighbours’

Joy, even as we despise the darkness of their evil ways.

Human ignorance has harmed us for centuries! They

Came from the Dynasty’s, powerful Empires,

Babylonians and even an Adam in the Garden of Eden,

Allured by the red nakedness he so erroneously believed

To be synergised, with the throbbing of his heart.

Today African-Americans celebrate Juneteenth –a portmanteau of

June and nineteenth – even while still searching for justice; Lincoln’s

Proclamation spoke of a liberty of sorts, which is yet to materialize.

Yet it’s a significant step for the soul to celebrate: to pray;

Tell stories of our history much too intense, for the comfort

Of some of our neighbourly brothers and sisters. For Joe Biden

To finally create history, by declaring Juneteenth a Federal Holiday.

African-Americans dance to rhythm and blues, laugh with our

Children over fireside treats – like the griots did – talk of Kunta

Kinte and Kambi Bolongo, the river, enjoy rodeos, sing negro

Spirituals woven in the blood and hopes of our forefathers.

Yet we remember, that some three years after

The Proclamation, some 32 years after it was

Passed in Britain 1833, we were still far from so called

Freedom, still cotton-picking for our oppressors; still

Segregated by Jim Crow style laws; punished for daring

To mention our legal right to celebrate this great Jubilee;

To determine the path of our own future.

There was still no voting; no eating with whites; different

Water fountains, schools and parks to name a few. Yet

Juneteenth, more than Independence Day, implies freedom

For all and what a Government chooses to honour and

Celebrate, should normally speak to its core values:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all

Are created equal, that we are endowed by our

Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among

These are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Is our enslavement over? The yoke of the knee of bigotry

Still pierces our hearts, even as gentrification and disparity

Forces us into ghettos, causes us to gather like sheep,

While the privileged few, ensures that we have minimal

Impact in an endemic system, tainted by greed, corruption;

Complacency and mistrust.

The long mountainous path to Freedom continues,

Across an unfeeling razors corridor, still crowded

With dark ghouls; the avarice of power games, denied

By Love, for still trying to conceal our Spirits … in coffins.

- Lantern Carrier, 11th June, 2021.

Thoughts on Slavery

© 2021 manatita44