Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa , African Feminism, Politics, Sexual Rights & Citizenship

IWD: A short story of womanhood and war from Valerie Mason-John

The Gift – a short story of womanhood, war, and forgiveness by Valerie Mason-John A beautiful story – just read it and see

My name is Yei and I am the third daughter born from my father’s fifth wife. I was born in the district of Kono in 1960. My momma told me: “Yei, you will never be poor. Look at this rich land full of bananas, mangoes, bush yam, peanuts, cassava and rice. Take what you need and leave the rest. This is the peaceful law of the land.”

My momma taught me to worship the diamonds. They were gifts from the Supreme Being, Yaata. We blessed the land, offered kola nuts, spilled the blood of a chicken from a calabash and prayed. When the first rains battered down in April we looked furtively on the ground for diamonds. We kept them to protect us from bad luck falling upon our family.

We only ever exchanged them for medicine from the Groun Groun man and they performed rituals with them to ward off evil spirits. It was said if you ever sold a diamond, bad luck would follow your family, and you could end up dead in the jungle. Only the elders in the Secret Societies knew where the pulse of the land laid buried deep beneath the red-hot earth. They were the custodians of many secrets. However we all knew it had been prophesied that if the diamonds were found, great evil would be performed on our land. It was they who traded our secrets to the white man. Who else could it have been?

My momma was afraid of white men. She warned me and my sisters never to trust them. They were ghosts from the past who could only bring us trouble. I never knew I would actually live to see one. And when I did, I ran, hid and prayed. My prayers were too late. They moved into my town Yengema with a week’s notice, and set off sirens giving us locals half an hour to pack our bags and leave our homes. The white men came to Yengema and performed the work of the devil.

I had to vacate my wooden shack at eight in the morning with my seven children under the age of sixteen. They blasted the earth open. I was made homeless within an hour, my house and several others flattened by the explosion. Many of us walked three hours southeast along the dusty roads to Koidu. Some families fled into the bush.

I lost my husband and his two other wives in the mayhem. I lost my momma’s sacred teachings too. How could I teach my children that diamonds should stay deep in the earth. That diamonds are for healing only. How could I?………… Continue reading The Gift