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Incident in Keta

?There, the woman who was over six feet tall, stood peering at the flimsy piece of paper in her dark hand. When she raised her head, I nearly fell back down the steps: she had the wide face and slanted eyes of my grandmother. Her lips were large and beautifully shaped like my grandmother?s, and her cheekbones were high like those of my grandmother. The woman solemnly returned the licence to Mr. Adadevo who
gave it back to me, then the woman reached out and touched my shoulder hesitantly. She softly patted my cheek a few times. Her face had changed. Outrage had given way to melancholia. After a few seconds of studying me, the woman lifted both arms and lacing the fingers together clasped her hands and put them on the top of her head. She rocked a little from side to side and issued a pitiful little moan.
I said, ?Mr. Adadevo, you must tell me what?s happening.?
He said, ?This is a very sad story and I can?t tell it all or tell it well.?
I waited while he looked around. He began again, ?During the slavery period Keta was a good sized village. It was hit very hard by the slave trade. Very hard. In fact, at one point every inhabitant was either killed or taken. The only escapees were children who ran away and hid in the bush. Many of them watched from their hiding places as their parents were beaten and put into chains. They saw the slaves set fire to the village. They saw mothers and fathers take infants by their feet and bash their heads against tree trunks rather than see them sold into slavery. What they saw they remembered and all that they remembered they told over and over.
?The children were taken in by nearby villagers and grew to maturity. They married and had children and rebuilt Keta. They told the tale to their offspring. These women are the descendants of those orphaned children. They have heard the stories often and the deeds are still as fresh as if they happened during their lifetimes. And you, Sister, you look so much like them, even the tone of your voice is like theirs. They are sure you are descended from those stolen mothers and fathers. That is why they mourn. Not for you but for their lost people.?

A scene in the Ghanaian village of Keta. Culled from ?All Gods children need travelling shoes? by Maya Angelou
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