FROM: Mr. Victor E. Moseley
Foreword to this episode of ‘The Soul of Black Land’
My memories are deeper than I ever thought I could understand. My mother would tell her children about her brothers and sisters leaving Selma, Alabama. They went to the states of New York, Michigan and Ohio. While my siblings would dream about visiting these places I wondered why did they choose to go there? A reason why is what I sought, so I just quietly sat and thought about it as I grew up in a life of poverty.
Poverty began to focus my imagination. School served to clarify my conclusions on why life for me didn’t hold the allure and promise it gave others. Needless to say all I had were questions to which I vowed I would someday have answers. In this episode I will partially share what I believe were the reasons and the purpose my moms’ brothers and sisters moved away from Selma, Alabama.
Are we here for ourselves only? Is life simply about the pursuit of comfort and securing those necessities to sustain ourselves? My longings have weighted on my mind for too long for me to believe that. This is what I do know. There are two peoples that are all too familiar with longsuffering, oppression and tribulation. God’s chosen people the Israelites, Hebrews or Jews are many names they hold. Also Africans or more defined, African slaves throughout the ‘DIASPORA’ and their descendants in these modern times now called African Americans or Black folk.
Together we will explore what my heart has been counseling me for decades. What did my moms’ brothers and sisters receive when they got to these new places? Places they knew nothing about. How did they even begin to start a new life making a living? I believe the answer has always been known. African Americans should be helping one another. What is it that has caused us to go astray from what the ‘First Ancestor’ taught to us?
———————————What has been laid on the Heart cannot be removed——————-
THE SOUL OF BLACK LAND
Episode Two: Make the Way Right Somehow
The Story is: (John is his name. He doesn’t even know if he has a middle or last name. John is the son of his slave mother who got pregnant with another Black slave she loved before she was sold to another plantation. John is nearly two times ten now and he has something planned. The year is 1843. A year that will not be like all the rest of his years. You see John is fair skinned which has afforded him many advantages. The master’s son and daughter liked him so much they began to see something they lacked under their father and subservient mother. It was defiance. A defiance that was laced with strength. Cleavur (pronounced ‘Cleavor’) and Lissqui (pronounced ‘Lis qu’) Munornado. Their father thought it would distinguish his family from all the run of the mill families slaughtering their slaves.
John, Cleavur and Lissqui played together. They began to understand what it meant to need another person. This led the master’s children to teach John how to read, write and add things up if he needed. John would share some of the things he learned. Things only a slave understood. John showed Cleavur and Lissqui how to manipulate others. Not that stupid technique of thinking you got something from somebody they were already going to give to you. John taught them to read a person and think beyond what’s in front of you to see the outcome before you open your mouth. This would serve all three of them well on their new adventure.
John didn’t have a choice. He needed help from somebody if he was going to make it to the starting line of his quest to go West. John wasn’t just a strong back and formidable presence to see to it that his master’s product was duly protected, cared and paid for. John also listened as the slave owners discussed what news was going around town about areas of America that were being opened to anyone willing to settle the land there. That’s where the idea was first born. John has spent many days and every moment he could laying on grass and filthy rags about the new Western frontier.
John was going to one day bend to his knees. Place both of his hands on the ground. On land that belonged to him.).
———————–Stay the Course———————–
(The going is having the starting line behind you, but the ground ahead in front of you. Dashurai, Cleavur, and Lissqui and are off the porch facing the world. Their thoughts were a warning to them. Do not let everything and anything stray you from the decision made long ago as young children. The three of them would forge a path where no path was cut. The three of them would be steady in the face of adversity. Lastly, the three of them would endure to the end no matter if that end was prosperous or paltry. The three of them would endure.
Fortune had smiled on them in that they actually had some money to buy, barter and trade along whatever the waypoints had in store. They knew they would find out soon. Not to worry about that they spoke to each other. That price is baked in the ‘cornbread’ Dashurai would often say. He knew Cleavur and Lissqui had an easier go of life and he wanted to get it in their heads to be ready for some rough times. He told Lissqui that she would have to be a ‘lady’ where being a ‘lady’ probably wasn’t going to be possible. He told Cleavur that he had to make sure his sister was ready to fight if he was not going to be at her side. Cleavur knew what he meant as he said, “I know what we’re about to face, so let’s get on with it”.
Well Dashurai said, ‘Not to over water the crops then’. The way forward is not clear. We will see firsthand what we’re facing and all of us need to think on the fly. Nothing about what we’re about to do favors us. We’re crossing into learning how things get done in real time and that’s not the same as listening to someone tell us how they did it. This is on us. Let’s be clear on that. Cleavur and Lissqui nodded in agreement is how Dashurai remembered how he got that point across.).
——————A Few Things That Never Seem to Come Up——————–
Dashurai: (Right now he is gathering with every former slave and ‘free men’ hired on to protect this ‘wagon train’ going West. Dashurai had a brief spell of reluctance to share with the other ‘colored men’ that he was from the Louisiana Territory. Someday it would be referred to as the ‘Bayou’ with all the mystery it still holds.). We all got to make sure we get these privileged White ‘settlers’ to the new frontier.
Ahuudo: (Pronounced ‘A hood o’, is ready to leave this place of dark souls. His name says loudly that he knows what he has witnessed is not the will of the God he was taught.). Dashurai, I’m with whatever you say. What do we gotta do?
Dashurai: I’ve got a lot of things on my plate and I will use every bit to make sure all of us get there. Use everything you’ve learned including how you’ve been treated and what you’ve seen. I mean this is the start of something new. Nobody owns us now. Understand that. Nobody tells us what we can or cannot do ever again. Channel that.
Dashurai: (Dashurai is strongest he says to himself. I am strongest because my mother saw I was a ‘correct’ child. She taught me from five years old what I needed to know. Often she would say I don’t have time to repeat myself John. Listen to me right now.). Ahuudo, there is a lot I’m going to have to do and I need someone to help me. We have to endure. That means to not give up no matter how tough the way forward is.
Ahuudo: I’m with that. Being a slave didn’t break me. It fueled me. I’m angry enough to kill a bear if I have to. No white man or any man will put their foot on me again.
Dashurai: Good good.
Ahuudo: What do we need to do now?
Dashurai: (Dashurai says his mother’s name to himself again. Ma’Rai (pronounced Ma Rye). She told him to say it aloud when he is alone.). We will stop the wagons soon. Night is about to be upon us. Tell the men to get ready to set up the camp.
————————–Another day down—————————–
(Dashurai has circled back to his brother and sister to tell them what will happen next. The men will scout ahead while the others will pull shifts keeping watch over the wagon train. Dashurai again tells Cleavur and Lissqui to expect anything to happen. Nothing is all that familiar to them right now. Don’t get cocky yet.).
Dashurai: Keep it in the line of thoughts you have crashing all over your head, but be ready to act on what is necessary in the moment. (Dashurai only had a quick talk with Cleavur and he was off to see to the colored men and the night watch.).
Cleavur: We’re coming up on night soon. We should get our provisions together Lissqui and be ready when the security troops signal they found us a good place to camp for the night.
Lissqui: I think recognizing the surrounding landscape with the setting of the Sun this time everyday offers the clues I’ve needed to get myself ready for nightfall.
Cleavur: Mr. Vaterborne, I’ll get us situated and get with the troops and let you know when things are settled for everybody to be fed and bedded down.
Mr. Vaterborne: You always do my good man.
Cleavur: Good, stay here. I’ll be right back while my sister helps the Mrs. get down from the coach to stretch her legs. (Lissqui could be quite the hostess just greeting and prancing around smiling from ear to ear as guests arrive to mingle in a beautiful southern mansion. Cleavur admires his sister fully embracing her role. All he has to do is trust that he fulfills his own.).
Mr. Vaterborne: My good man. You talk to that colored boy a lot I see. Do you have an understanding of some kind with him?
Cleavur: Dashurai? He is a hired hand. I feel he is capable of protected us as we travel through the countryside. It is simple as that. Does he scare you? A man of your standing Mr. Vaterborne.
Mr. Vaterborne: No son. I was thinking about what a free man could do.
Cleavur: Well his purpose is to get paid and settle somewhere he could purchase from his earnings. Is that a problem for you?
Mr. Vaterborne: Not at all as long as he doesn’t stay near me.
Cleavur: Oh trust me sir. He hasn’t a desire to fool with White faces as he passes his days on Earth.
———————————Trouble no more———————————
(Dashurai is back with every free man that hired onto this wagon train now. The discussion he is about to have amongst each and every one of them will surprise him.).
Ahuudo: I’m here to do two things. Make some money and go back to that plantation and get my woman.
Dashurai: Okay. (Dashurai knows how to handle this. The cascade of teachings his mother taught him are flooding back across every bone in his body. You better help. That’s what she told him. How you do it better end up right in the eyes of God she’d say. He’d answer yes Ma’Rai.). Then we got to make sure we look after each other.
Ahuudo: What do you mean, ‘Look after each other’.
Dashurai: Look, everything we do we have to do together. Fulfilling a promise on these lands I don’t know about you, but it seems you’re going to need help. Ahuudo, all we have is each other. Look around you. Do you see White faces rushing up to you ready to help you keep your promises?
Ahuudo: I seen the kind of help from ‘my’ faces. It was all about looking after yourself. What? You different?
Dashurai: Different? I’m certainly not like the other coloreds that have taken up the ‘malevolent’, evil nature of their masters. I don’t want nothing from nothing you own. We have been around each other only a couple weeks now. This I know. My mother helped me learn how to be about my work. I will never step over any colored man here or anywhere to get to where I’m going.
Ahuudo: Yeah, we will see.
Dashurai: That’s all I will ask from you. Let me show you what I will do for us all. Just stick together is all I ask from you.
—————————-When I dream a dream can I keep it?——————–
(The countryside is dense when you get off the beaten trail. No matter how true that statement is the danger of taking lands from people who own it isn’t lost on Dashurai. There is a lot of wrongs going on in this country now called America. My mother told me that the people that took our ancestors knew they were in over their heads. The only way to make a life for themselves in the ‘New World’ without money is to have someone do your work. The work you don’t have to pay them for.
It is just that simple she told me. Don’t spend your time wondering about what motivated the ‘White’ faces to enslave our people. Money is your answer. Save your time thinking about the things that matter. Look at life the way it is and think about life being another way. Think when others around you don’t. Say it back to me she would tell me and I’d say, ‘Think when others around you don’t’.
It has been a few weeks now Dashurai says to himself. The wagon train is about halfway there and he and all the coloreds are asking for their agreed upon wages for bringing the people to this point.).
Dashurai: Mr. Botharmine. It is time for our agreed upon wages. We are at the halfway point.
Mr. Botharmine: In a few moments I will make payment.
Dashurai: (Just like they talked about Dashurai thinks. Cleavur and Lissqui told him the ‘White’ faces will try you to see if you’re serious about your wages.). Hold on Sir, Mr. Botharmine I need you to pay my men and me right now.
Mr. Botharmine: (Looking at all the colored faces around him staring through him, Mr. Botharmine knew they weren’t about to break into singing a church song. He thought the safer course would be pay up and keep his health.). Right you are. I did agree upon this payment arrangement didn’t I.
Dashurai: (After all the men got paid, Dashurai and Ahuudo talked for a while as the other colored men secured their wages.). What we just did we have to do all the time. Everybody together. Stand together for just what we worked for and nothing more.
Ahuudo: I saw that. I never saw that what I just saw in my life. All day. Day in and day out just fear and beatings. I still don’t know you, but.
Dashurai: Stay the way you are Ahuudo. I just need everybody to just do what they know how to do. I’ll do what I have to do. Just be ready to do what you have to do. That’s all I’m asking.
Ahuudo: I will.
Dashurai: I too have some promises I made back where I came from. I hope I’m able to show my mother that I did do what she told me to do.
Ahuudo: I can be with you on mothers. The strength of will I have came from my own mother. I too didn’t spend more than ten years with mine. I got taught respect, but I also got strength from her.
Dashurai: Mine made me repeat after her all the time. Did your mother do something to make you remember what she told you?
Ahuudo: Yeah, she went upside my head when I didn’t listen. After a while I got it.
Dashurai: (Dashurai chuckles as he got a few slaps upside his head when he wasn’t answering his mother quick enough.). We got that in common.
——————————–Quicker Dashurai quicker———————————–
(Dashurai takes a break. His guard shift has ended, but he isn’t a hard sleeper. He remembers how his mother woke him with rustlings and ramblings once a week just to develop his sense of awareness even when he closed his eyes to rest. Dashurai mumbles a prayer of assurance to fulfill his mother’s wishes, and a vow to not faint when adversity comes a calling. I don’t have the luxury of a kind world. Maybe someday it will come. A day when men and women don’t have to be hard on their children just to see that they live no matter the spirits of evil surrounding them.
Dashurai will keep learning quickly. He says to himself, ‘I’ve got to be strong. Mother told me don’t think about finishing your race. You will not see the fruits of all your colored brothers and sisters, nor will you be able to rest from your work’.
Enough of sitting here thinking about all that must be done. Now I must work this wagon train.).
Cleavur: We’ve come a good ways now Dashurai. What do think about the road ahead?
Dashurai: This way has been cleared. There are a few towns ahead of us. Some soldiers, horse thieves and cattle rustlers have been reported scattered. I have a plan that will smoke them out if we encounter them.
Cleavur: Tell me and I’ll see if it is something I would do.
Dashurai: If we come across them I believe they will be watching us when we cross open plains of land. I suggest before we do we split the wagon train into smaller parts. Make them believe that the taking will go easier if they don’t have to shoot it out with a lot of horsemen.
Cleavur: It needs to at least four parts. Four parts with fast horses and sharpshooters spread across all four parts. Leave it to me to tell the big shots. These country folk aren’t tough enough to count on in a fight, so I’ll need to spread out all our colored guards to make sure these folks stay alive.
Dashurai: Alright. I’ve got fourteen colored men that are good shots and they can fight it out up close if they need to.
Cleavur: I seen you talking to that one colored man many times. What can you report on him? Can you say if he is an enemy or a friend by now?
Dashurai: (Ma’Rai would say you need to work quicker. Find out about him and make a judgment.). Ahuudo? He could be. I’ll say he’s a friend.
Cleavur: I’m surprised. You are working quickly aren’t you?
Dashurai: What do you know of it? Did I say something to you about how my mother raised me?
Cleavur: I’m caught up on a lot of things Dash. Look, saying sorry for the way your people. I can’t even begin to stop all the madness in these lands right now. Right now White folks have all the power. I know what has to be done to break off some of that power.
Dashurai: Snap it off.
Cleavur: Forcefully taking control of your life has been your sole reason to get out of Kentucky. Look I know you still face slave hunters looking for a pay day. An ally is better to be had than facing these idiot hunters alone.
Dashurai: All the power is in the hands of White faces. I’m still not going to accept that as my destiny even if some destinies in this country turn thievery into holiness.
Cleavur: You are stronger in your mind. I need you to stick to the plan. Tell me what you’re thinking and I will present it to the White folks that own this wagon train. You know the deal. What you want is bigger than a wagon train.
Dashurai: You’re right Cleavur. Just had a minute there of losing sight of what’s important that’s all. I’m back now. That’s good. Four parts with three colored men to each part. Two will roam with me as I follow the happenings and adjust strategy if necessary.
Cleavur: I need to be close enough to you to figure out what you’re doing and tell everybody that you are doing what you were told.
Dashurai: Alright. That works then. Keep alert Cleav. I have much depending on this first wagon train, and yes to your question about Ahuudo. I believe he has an independence to his beliefs. I do need his help, but I need to proceed like my mother taught me. Don’t waste words as talking should mean something every time you open your mouth.
Cleavur: Wise words indeed Dash.
(Who says the presentation of violence is any different. Whether it appears as a physical beating. Whether it appears as a burning using hot water. Whether it is served up by the ‘Massaa’ (pronounced ‘Mass’Ah) siccing his dogs to rip flesh from our bodies. Maybe it is just the threat of violence that warned us it could come in any form.
Ahuudo thinks in his heart that running from his memories has him exhausted. He will not run. He will turn and face whatever comes at him from now until his maker snatches his ass up and judges him. His heart has also chased him from new moon to new moon. The sky he thinks to himself does present to him a day he has never seen before or will see again. Ja’Nee, that was her name. My mother’s name is Ja’Nee. Ahuudo was beside himself. No he was mad at himself for not recalling the name of his mother more quickly. When he thought of her he smiled.
That will never happen to my children. Ever! They will know their mother’s name and when they speak it they will smile and laugh with joy. I promise that!
I will do whatever it takes to get my woman and live out my life with her. If she wants to have a family we will love our children with a fierceness daring anyone to separate us. This is what I will do for my family. No one that doesn’t have it coming will get it. Violence will be met with strong violence in return Ahuudo vowed to himself. Ja’Nee is my mother. I will not be afraid to speak her name ever again.).
Ahuudo: Dashurai, I want to be on the security for the last wagons.
Dashurai: Okay, if that’s what you want. There will be more trouble at the end. More troublemakers in larger numbers trying to scare off some of the wagons to make easy pickings of them. I thought you wanted to make it to the ‘open territory’ and take your money and go back to find your woman?
Ahuudo: That’s what I said. I also want to help. Look, I don’t know nothing about you, but I seen you. I looked at you scout ahead. I saw you chase off wolves. I had a problem with beatings. I’ve taken many and I’ve seen many. I’m tired of that.
Dashurai: You want the chance to give a little of that back huh?
Ahuudo: No. I want the chance to stop it. The ‘MEEK’ shall inherit the Earth. My mother said it. Mama Ja’Nee said meek means to be gentle. In ancient times it means ‘supportive’. To ‘suffer’ but be ‘hopeful’. ‘Believe in more than yourself’, Mama Ja’Nee said. I believe because I have an undying love for my woman. I must do what a man should do. ‘Protect your woman’.
Dashurai: (Dashurai is taken aback. Another new feeling washes over him. He decides quickly to take Ahuudo at his word. Ma’Rai said be faithful and he will.). You’re on the back end. We’re coming up on the areas where a lot of the trouble has been passed back to the starting stations. You are strong Ahuudo. I need that strength now.
(Dashurai, Cleavur and Lissqui have crossed the divide of the known into the unknown. Days, weeks and nearly a month has passed since they left Kentucky. The cascade of experiences so far hasn’t broken their resolve to establish their names in a new land. Dashurai sits alone. He believes something that has been on his mind more than anything else. What happens when all this ends. He remembers the little bit of history Cleavur and Lissqui shared with him on world conquerors.
Dashurai can’t shake the feelings that slavery will become incompatible with change. He has heard things. Communication over a wire. How can someone communicate over a wire? Even the train he sees rolling along on iron rails like kinfolk crossing long ago paths to renewing of relationships. Injustice can’t sustain all the wild tales he hears about this new young country. Maybe it can.
One thing Dashurai knows. Much of the injustice that occurs is all too routine. For those drunk with power to release it from their grip he doesn’t see it happening willingly. Abolishing slavery will cause great problems. The problems on the front end were small. The problems that are coming when slavery ends Dashurai believes will come on the ‘back end’.
The ‘back end’ oh my goodness. What is it about power that drives those that have it insane? Dashurai thinks about his friends’ father. How he would act like a demon trying to keep the fire roaring hotter if an angel shows up with ice water. Money means power and no matter what I think it is always held onto like a young colored slave girl. Oh brother, she’s a production mill. Get it now? Come whatever may though, Dashurai, Cleavur and Lissqui have vowed to accept the challenges. All challenges to soul and body.).
Written by: Victor E. Moseley