Often as I enter the ornate Capitol hallway and spectacular rotunda, I not only think about my own long journey here from a village in West Africa but of the million Senegalese and Gambians (of the Wolof tribe/nation)who were taken in chains to the West during the terrible years of “The Middle Passage.”
Kunte Kinte of Roots fame, was “born and raised” in my nation. He was one of a small majority to survive the journey. His future generations slaved for the next two hundred years until his people, my people were freed from their immediate bondage.
Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the US. But it was not the end of bondage or Jim Crow laws and other forms of racism. The stain of slavery, America’s Original Sin, make take as long to erase as the institution itself- over 250 years.
The capture and transport of 15 million Africans had as catastrophic effect on parts of Africa as it did here.
Before it ended whole regions were emptied of people but especially men. This was followed by hundreds of years of brutal colonial rule. No people could endure these repeated attacks on their life without deep scars on their person.
The effects of the slave trade on the people who stayed behind was different than those that were taken but for the Africans and the African-Americans alike, slavery changed everything.
I did not know about Juneteenth until a few years ago. Like my Black compatriots of the US, I celebrate it not only as the end of slavery but perhaps optimistically, the beginning of the end of racism as we live it.