Africa · Congo

in the sea

There is a sense of belonging to this place that overwhelms me, even if I know that  somewhere, in some sense, the door is shut.

Whatever understanding I have of Pointe-Noire or the country or the people, comes from a sensitivity that wells deep inside of me, and in some sense, makes a lot of my writing, obsucre, impenetrable, dark, perhaps layered and colorful but in some sense, a “what is she talking about?” kind of experience. And for that I am sorry. It will become clearer as it becomes clearer to me.

Down the coast from here, lies a place called Loango, which was one of the three major slave ports on the Atlantic and over the course of four centuries saw the exodus of between two and five million Africans, sometimes exchanged for rhum and bits of nothing.

So much happens in the sea here, and I stand on the beach and let it lick my feet, and I feel the centuries gone by and my yearning to somehow connect, and understand. I bow my head to what the Sea has seen, what took place on its shores, and I look out at the setting sun, in between these oil wells of oil, pumped into ships that sail to the North.

I need facts. I need to root my mind in facts before my heart sets sail on me. And so in this quest I’m hoping to go to Loango and have the story told to me by the story-telling curator, a story that had to be gleaned from the French Archives in Nantes, because oral tradition didn’t carry the pain through the generations.

There is something to be said for not dwelling on suffering. But there is also a need to root ourselves in the remembering. Maybe my search can be a little of both, that of a woman who wants to understand the land where her childhood was spent.

The rain has stopped finally, so I’m going to step out dried and hopeful.


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