Book Excerpt – Grandpa! Tell Us a Story Drinking from Ancient Wells the Story of the Game Black People Play/Trilogy Book One: The Game’s Soul
Grandpa! Tell Us a Story Drinking from Ancient Wells the Story of the Game Black People Play/Trilogy Book One: The Game’s Soul
by Orchester Benjamin
Publication Date: Jul 01, 2007
List Price: $24.95
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Parent Company: SoulViewWorld LLC/publishing
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Copyright © 2007 SoulViewWorld/Orchester Benjamin No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.
If you dig deep enough into your self,
You will come face to face with Black History:
And if you dig deep enough into Black History,
You will come face to face with your self.
In the first seven years of my parent’s marriage, Mom and Daddy had two miscarriages and two babies who died when they were less than a year old. When Mom became pregnant for the fifth time, she and Daddy were desperate to have some children.
One day as they were walking deep in the woods, they passed a beautiful red oak tree near a creek, forming a kind of serene oasis within the pine tree forest, near a Church; the weather was hot so they stood under the tree. This serenity of the Red Oak oasis had a profound affect on Mom. She fell to her knees and prayed to any God that would hear her prayer that if He allowed this child to live, and they would give the child to Him. And that is the true beginning of my story.
From central Louisiana, north to include the south eastern corner of Texas, there is a large forest with thousands of square miles of long leaf pine trees. And throughout this forest there were a large number of sawmill villages consisting of at least one Baptist Church and sometimes also a Methodist Church, a juke joint, a two or three room school house, a company store, and a number of houses for workers.
I was born in one of those villages on the Louisiana side of this forest, called Flora, May 31, 1934, to Ben Jr. and Bertha Mae Benjamin. Flora is located about a mile from the small town of Natchitoches in central Louisiana; Mom named me Orchester, meaning loss and redemption.
Anyway, in the winter of 1945 we moved to another sawmill Village, Long Leaf, Louisiana, which, was about 30 miles west of Alexandria on a line between Alexandria and Lake Charles, and this is where I came of age.
Children in sawmill Villages were divided into those who stayed in the yard, called Yard kids, and those who roamed all over the village day and night, called Village kids. Yard kids were good and never got into trouble, and Village kids were bad and always got into trouble as far as grownups were concerned. To us kids, coming of age was leaving the yard and becoming a Village kid. I was a yard kid when we arrived, however that was about to change.
For example, Long Leaf sawmill Village had a creek running near by, fed by a big spring, called Spring Creek, and it was always nice and cool on hot summer days. A little after my eleventh birthday, after watching people swim in real life and the movies, I decided I knew how to swim without ever getting into the water.
That summer I begin to bug Daddy to take me swimming. And he would tell me I had to learn how to swim. But I thought I already knew how to swim. But I did not tell him that, I just kept bugging him to take me swimming.
Finally, one Saturday he took me to the big swimming hole. And on our way, he was telling me how he was going to begin teaching me to swim in shallow water. Meanwhile, I was not paying any attention to what he was saying; after all I already knew how to swim as far as I was concerned.
As soon as we came near the swimming area, I ran ahead as fast as I could and jumped head first in the deepest part of the swimming hole. And I am here to tell you that was an experience I will never forget; I almost drowned.
Lucky for me, there were lots of people swimming nearby to pull me out. By the time I coughed up the water from my lungs, and Daddy saw that I was all right, Daddy looked at me with a strange look in his eyes, and said, ’I guess you have learned your lesson, now let’s see what you do with it.’
He did not try to teach me to swim. He talked with the other men, kept an eye on me, and let me do what I wanted. I played around in shallow water until finally we went home. But I had made up my mind to learn to swim.
Within the next couple of days I made my great escape from being a yard kid. I slipped off from home and went walking along the creek until I found a nice shallow pool where the deepest part was only about waist high; I made that my secret place, and begin to teach myself to swim.
At first Mom begin to punish me for leaving home without permission, but after a month or so she saw that it was not doing any good, so she kind of gave up. This meant that I had paid the price to become a ’Village Kid.’
I learned a few very important things that summer. I learned to do what I wanted to do, and by taking my experience of almost drowning, I taught myself to do it; and the end result was my knowing how to swim, and just as important, I learn to teach myself how to do things.
This was a combination of Mom and Daddy’s philosophy, ’You can learn anything’ and ’Follow your own mind;’ and my philosophy of taking things apart and putting them together again. At that time I did not think about the philosophy of what I had accomplished. I was just super proud that I knew how to swim and had become a Village Kid. The following year I had to confront my first serious problem.
I had heard all of my life that people were born in sin and sin was a bad thing. And to get rid of it, I must go off by myself, get on my knees, and pray to God to forgive me for my sins. After which my soul would be saved from going to hell, where I would burn in fire forever.
If I was serious and promised to become a Christian, and if God forgave me by "hearing my prayer," I would have this religious experience, and know I was saved. Then I was to join the Baptist Church, be baptized in water, and thereafter live by Christian rules of conduct.
With the goal that, when I died, I would go to Heaven, a place where there is no work, and people sing songs, drink milk, and eat honey. This was pounded into my head by my Mother, Father, extended family, and everybody in the community, especially the part about ’getting religion.’
On the other hand, I was told that during childhood, from birth to 12 years of age, the beginning of puberty, if I died I would go to Heaven no matter what sins I committed. Therefore, I did not spend time thinking about Church and God in my childhood.
One day just before my 12th birthday, I was lying on the sand near my private swimming pool deep in the woods, thinking about this big problem I had.
Now, that it was a few days before my birthday I had the biggest problem I had confronted in my young life, related to this Christian Rule of Conduct thing.
The things that one had to do to "save his soul" from hell was not the things I wanted to do. I did not know about that God stuff, but hell gave me something to think about.
The only Gods I knew anything about for sure were my two Grandpas. So I thought that if I only did the things they did or would do, I could get around this hell thing, because being Gods, my Grandpas could not commit a sin. Therefore, if I followed their example in life, I could live sin-free. Then I took it one step further.
When I added up all of the things that my Grandpas, mother and father, and uncles and aunts did and did not do, as opposed to what they said was morally right to do, I came up with a list that was related to, but different from the Christian Rules of Conduct thing.
The lists was so long, I found that there were no moral rules to stop me from doing anything I wanted, including most of the things the Christians called sin.
Throughout my childhood, Mom would tell me that the worst sin was to be a hypocrite. I never did find out why she felt so much contempt for hypocrites. Maybe it was because of something that happened in her childhood. But I always believed it was because Daddy was such a playboy. Daddy probably could have been a pimp, but he would not have made any money because he would have been his own best customer. Anyway, I grew up knowing that of all the things I might be, being a hypocrite was the worst.
This belief of Mom must have gone very deep into me, because I was very careful in making my list of moral conducts. And to my mind if I was careful about being a hypocrite I didn’t have to think about the Christian God and this hell thing at all one way or another; just be true to my list. These just were ideas running through my mind.
It was much later in life before I learned that this opened ’a pathway to a special kind of freedom that I was to enjoy all of my life.’ This also laid the groundwork for me to become a rebel, at first without a cause, and later in life, with a very good cause.
So I never did become a Christian, or live by a Christian Moral Code. My list became my highest valued beliefs. You could say, these beliefs are amendments to the Constitution of the United State of Myself as a Person, but they are not the constitution itself.
Or you could say these beliefs are the Articles of Faith of my Religious Beliefs. This means they served as my personal source of Pride, Integrity, and, my moral code of Truth, Justice, and Righteousness. And as far as I was concerned, I was real proud and thought I had created a new religion for myself.
But I am getting ahead of myself. My understanding of what I was really doing, and what was happening in my life a few days before my 12th birthday came from a totally different direction, the spiritual visionary side of my life.
I always had visions, during my childhood I thought of them as imaginary friends that I played with and/or talked with, or situations I would create to amuse myself. However, as I laid on the sand that summer day, after I had chosen my list of highest values, I experienced my first vision as a source of knowledge and wisdom in the form of four Spiritual Being that appeared as a little old Black man, a Black woman, and two Black children.
The vision began with them walking out of the woods toward me. Both adults seemed older than time itself. The women had a little boy and girl holding onto her hands. They looked like Africans I had seen in a national geography magazine I once read. It was the man who first got my attention.
He had pride in his stride, and pep in his step. His unique way of walking, swinging his shoulders with one higher than the other, told me every thing I wanted to know about the kind of man he symbolized. I knew right away he was on top of his game, and knew how to handle himself no matter what position he was involved with; I had seen Black men in the community with that approach and attitude. He was dressed like an African medicine man I saw in some magazine. The first thing I thought about was Mom telling me that she had promised to give me to some God or another, if he allowed me to live and they were coming to give me for Him. I wanted to run, but my legs would not move, I couldn’t even get up.
He could see that I was afraid, and assured me that he meant me no harm; in fact he came to help me with what I was thinking about. It shocked me that he knew what I was thinking, but his voice assured me that I had nothing to worry about, which gave the nerve to ask him a question.
Me: ’Who are you?’
Old Black man: ’I am your history.’
Me: Pointing at the old Black woman, I asked, ’Who is she?’
Old Black man: ’She is also your history.’
Me: Looking at the children I asked, ’And who are they?’
Old Black man: ’Oh, they are the ones that gave you your survival tools to create your personal history.’
Me: ’Look Mister Man, I don’t know why you are giving me these funny answers that I don’t understand, but my daddy taught me not to let people talk to me crazy. Where are you from?’
Old Black man: ’I am from a place called The Land of Secret Societies in Africa, me and my wife teach in a school call Poro, where we guide boys through their Puberty rites of passage.’
Me: ’What is your name?’
Old Black Man: ’My name is Priest Sowa and my wife’s name is Priestess Mabole, we are officials in the school of Poro.’
Me: ’I never heard any names like that before, what do they mean?’
Priest Sowa: ’My name means, The High Priest of the Rituals of the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Male Rites of Passage related to the Seven Cycles of Life; your mother and father are the Priestess and Priest of the first three cycle of life. The cycles are as follows:
1. Pregnancy and birth (nine months).
2. Babyhood (birth to about three years of age).
3. Childhood (three years old to the age of twelve).
4. Manhood and womanhood (begins with puberty to about twenty).
5. Fatherhood and motherhood (from about age twenty to about forty.
6. Grandfather and grandmother hood (from age forty to sixty).
7. Ancestor hood (sixty to forever after death).
And Mabole is my assistant.’
Me: ’What is your relation to me?’
Priest Sowa: ’I am your grandpa!’
Me: ’I know my grandpas, Tom and Ben, and you are not either one of them!’
Priest Sowa: ’I am their grandpa.’
Me: ’Their grandpas are lost in the Black hole of slavery. Did you come from slavery times?’
Priest Sowa: ’I am slavery times Black’s grandpa also.’
Me: ’Oh, you must be one of those Africans that came over here in 1619!’
Priest Sowa: ’No, I am their grandpa also.’
Me: ’Look man, I don’t understand what you are talking about. Why did you come here in the first place?’
Priest Sowa: ’Because I am the greatest of your grandpas, and I am interested in the decisions you are making about what you want to do in life.’
Me: ’First you tell me that you are my history, and now you are telling me that you are my Grandpa and want to help me. Now Mr. Priest Sowa Sir, I don’t mean any disrespect, but are you playing with my mind? Or are you for real?’
Priest Sowa: ’We are the realest thing you will ever experience in your life time.’
Me: ’Well if you are so-for-real, why did you tell me that you were my history and are now saying you are my Ancient Grandpa?’
Priest Sowa: ’Because your history is your Ancestors, and your Ancestors are your generations of grandparents reaching back to the beginning of time; which means I am your history and your Ancient Grandpa at the same time. And this means that I am giving you the opportunity to have a dialogue directly with your history up close and personal.’
Me: ’Listen old man, I told you not to talk to me crazy, now tell me exactly what your real purpose is?’
Priest Sowa: ’Priestess Mabole and my purpose is to reveal to you the appropriate part of your history at the appropriate time, when we think you need it to fit the particular thing you are doing at any particular time. Your history is your personal source of pride, integrity, self-confidence, and self-worth. And just like you thought about your new little religion, your history also contains your moral code of truth, justice, and righteousness. There is no difference between religion and history as far as spirituality is concern.’
Me: ’Well what are the purpose of my Grandpa’s Tom and Ben, and how do they fit into the picture?’
Priest Sowa: ’They are your living Ancestors, and do the same thing I do, but in different ways.’
As he talked, his words had such a solid ring of truth my confidence in him grew to the point that I was ready to trust him; he began to get ready to leave. I thought I had made him mad for some reason, and that was why he was leaving.
Me: Defensively I asked, ’Where you going?’
Priest Sowa: ’We are going home, want to come along? I know you have more questions?’
Me, ’I don’t know if I am ready to go to Africa just yet.’
Priest Sowa: ’I am going to my home in the Soul Stream of Ancestors, want to come along? To show you that we are the real thing, I will tell you the appropriate part of your history to fit the question I know you have about what you just finish doing?’
Me, ’Yes, I want to go, how far is it?’
Priest Sowa: ’Not far.’
Me: ’Let’s go. If you are talking about questions about this new religion I just discovered, you are on the right track at the right time.’
He nodded his head in understanding and all at once we were sitting on two old stumps under a funny looking tree in front of his house deep in the woods, where he lived with his wife and two kids. His wife went into the house to cook, and his kids were playing some kind of game I did not understand. I asked him the name of his children, and he replied, Ben and Bertha. It did not seem strange to me that they had the same name as my parents.
After telling him about a new religion I had discovered, he said, ’You believe you have created a new religion, but you have only returned to your Ancient African Bush Ancestor’s Beliefs. However, Africans deal with their oldest living ancestors, regular ancestors, most ancient ancestors, and Gods and Goddesses as one Family chain. Whereas, you dealt with only your oldest living Ancestors, your Grandpas and extended family as the foundation of your religion, and stopped at that point.’
I thought about this for a very long time while he just sat and watched his kids playing their game. Finally his wife called that dinner was ready, and he asked me to come have something to eat with him and his family. I agreed.
So we went into his house, and to say the inside of his house shocked me is to put it mildly; there was just this one big room. What shocked me was how it was set up.
All about the room were these Blacksmith tools and machinery, and in between were all kinds of buckets and tubs with food plants growing in them. And scattered in odd relationships were beds, dresser draws, chairs, tables, with a stove on one side and a fireplace on the other side with four chairs in front of it. The four walls were covered with house utensils, and African art; while the dinning table sat in the middle of the room, where we ate some common food that tasted better than my mother made, or at least as good.
After dinner the kids went to bed, and his wife went over to some kind of drawing board and started drawing a picture. While we went over to the fireplace, he made a fire, and he told me to have a seat. After getting the fire burning the way he wanted, he sat in the chair beside me, and asked me a question, ’What do you think you want out of life?’
Me: ’To have plenty of money and women, and I noticed that there are two groups of Black men that have both; preachers and outlaws. Since I am not going to become a Christian, and therefore can’t become a preacher, as far as I can see, the only thing left is to be is an outlaw.
I know that outlaws are wrong, but it is something I must do. I have made up my mind that I am not going to work at any sawmill or on a farm.’
Priest Sowa: ’This means that you are about to go on a long and very complicated journey, and you need as much historical information as you can get.’
Me: ’What do you mean, I need information? Are you going to teach me how to become an outlaw?’
Priest Sowa: ’Maybe and maybe not, I do know something about that profession, but at this point you need information about what you have been doing and what you are doing now.’
Me: ’What have I have been doing?’
Priest Sowa: ’Listening to what your mother says and watching what your father does.’
Priestess Mabole: ’Your sister is just the opposite; she is listening to what her father says, and watching what her mother does.’
Me: ’Why was I doing that?’
Priest Sowa: ’You were preparing yourself for your fourth rite-of-passage, puberty.’
Me: ’What is this rites-of-passage?’
Priest Sowa: ’It is the passage from one stage of life to another, in your case, from childhood to manhood.’
Me: ’What about this journey thing you mentioned?’
Priest Sowa: ’You made the first step when you chose your moral code from your grandpa’s beliefs.’
Me: ’I don’t know what you mean.’
Priest Sowa: ’Puberty is the stage in life when a person makes the moral decisions that are to guide him or her for the rest of their life; it’s a spiritual transformation thing. What do you think all the Black people you know are talking about when they say ’Get religion’ before or around your 12th birthday?’
Me: ’I don’t know.’
Priest Sowa: ’It is because they knew that about that age, because of human nature, you were going to make a commitment to a moral code, and they wanted you to commit to Christianity.’
Me: ’Are you saying that I did something bad by not ’getting religion’ and ’joining church.’ I am worried about this hell fire and brimstone thing.’
Priest Sowa: ’No! Even though Black people have a very good reason to become Christians, and it stands to reason for you to have fears, after all, you were raised in a Christian environment.
However, your mother and father went to a Black Baptist Church, before you were born, and prayed to any God that would hear their prayer, that if their next child would live they would give it to Him. That child is you.
Now Black Churches are full of African Gods and Goddesses, and the God that answered her prayer is a Yoruba God name Olorun (o-LO-roon) the Great Creator of the human spirit, called The Outer Head, and that is who you belong to.’
Me: ’I knew it! I knew it! You are the Devil, and you are trying to trick me, you came to take me to hell where I will burn forever.’
Priest Sowa: ’Calm down, I am not the Devil, I am the most ancient of your ancient Ancestors; I symbolizes your history’s interaction with you. African Gods and Goddesses do not have a hell, nor are they there to punish you; their purpose is to help you to fulfill your chosen destiny.’
Me: ’What is a chosen destiny?’
Priest Sowa: ’My ancient grandchildren in Africa, the Yoruba, explain it best: The foundation of African religious beliefs states that the reason a person exists, and the things that happen to him or her in life are already planned before they are born. This is the meaning of Destiny.
’At the same time, it states that it is the person him or herself that chooses what he or she is going to do in life, before they are born. This is the meaning of Chosen Destiny. In your case, before you were born you found the Spirit of yourself standing before the Great African God Papa SEVEN, and the Great African Goddess, Mama SEVEN. When you were asked what you wanted, you said, ’I want to be born into life on earth.’
Mama SEVEN asked, ’What are you going to do in life?’
You answered, ’I am going to be born an African American to a man named Ben and a woman named Bertha, in the sawmill Village of Flora Louisiana. I will grow up to be handsome and popular with the women, but be a loner by nature. And I will live my life more or less like an outlaw. The first 52 years of my life will be divided between raising a family of two girls and one boy, traveling, going in and out of penitentiaries, getting involved on the violent side of the civil rights movement, dealing with a lot of different women, and playing around with philosophical thoughts. Most of all I will love to read books. When I reach the age of 52, I will begin to research and write a book about African American history for my grandchildren. And later establish and run a memorial institute of Ancient African Idea dedicated to my mother and father, until I get old and die.’
Papa SEVEN relied, ’To! It is sealed!’ (This means that the seal of reality is put on your Chosen Destiny, by giving you all the spiritual tools you need to realize it).
Your Spirit then left the presence of Papa and Mama SEVEN. And just on the outside of the walls of Heaven, you met ON’DODE, the Gate Keeper of the pathway between Heaven and Earth, to whom you repeated the Destiny you had just Chosen. And He gave you the following information:
’There is Physical Time and Space, and there is Spiritual Time and Space; at this point in time you are a Spiritual Being. To be born on earth you must have Soul energy, and you get that by traveling down the holy waters of the Soul Stream of the historical spiritual world of the Family you chose to be born into. This Soul Stream is better known as a Spiritual Birth Channel. Once you travel down this Soul Stream to its very end, you will be born into the time and space of the physical world. At that point in time you will be a spiritual and physical Being.’
Between the fountainheads of this stream, the kingdom of your ancestors, to its end, your mother’s womb, exists the spiritual history of the people you chose for your parents, extended family, clan and tribe.
Once your Spirit is born on earth, there is an African poem that tells what happens:
That which is chosen kneeling
Is that which one seeks,
On being born into the world.
We knelt down and chose a destiny,
Then, the world makes us forget.
This is why when people are born they forget their chosen destiny. For this reason, people sometimes spend a lifetime trying to find out what their destiny is, and no time fulfilling it. This is what puberty is all about, choosing a moral code that will lead to one’s chosen destiny.’
Me: Without knowing why, deep down inside of myself I knew he was telling me the truth, and it became a part of my conscious mind, but I did have a question, and asked, ’How does choosing a moral code lead to my chosen destiny?’
Priest Sowa: ’Because to freely choose a moral code, instead of someone else choosing it for you, can only come from the destiny you chose while standing before the Great Creator; you only have to be yourself, and allow it to come into reality. Another African poem puts it this way:
He who has wisdom and knowledge,
He gets it from his Soul.
He who is stupid,
Is made so by his Soul.
Soul is your salvation and guide,
That can lead you on the journey
To your destiny,
Without turning back.
It is my Soul whom I honor.
My Soul, I pay tribute to you.
All good things that I get in life,
It is my Soul whom I congratulate.
You who will never leave me.
Why do you think that throughout your childhood, of the thousands of things that your mother, father, and extended family told you, and without thinking about it you rejected some things and held on to others?’
Me: ’I don’t know.’
Priest Sowa: ’That was because your Soul was choosing the things it needed to realize itself. And those are the things you used to put together your moral code in puberty.’
Me: ’So you are saying, my soul is my Spirit’s Chosen Destiny?’
Priest Sowa: ’That’s right!’
Me: ’How is African Traditional Religion different from Christianity?’
Priest Sowa: ’Both religions are based on the belief in a Great Creator; or God if you will. And both are based on the fact that religion is a symbol of the logic in the working of the mind, with music and dance as its form, mathematics its principles, and the family its creation, whether they know it or not.
However, Christianity teaches you what to do, while African traditional religion is designed to give you the freedom to do the things necessary to do what you have chosen to do.’
Me: ’To do what I want to do is the easiest thing in the world. I know I can follow that rule. What about sin, and is playing the dozens a sin; I like to play the dozens.’
Priest Sowa: ’No! No! Don’t make that mistake. To do what you want to do is not the easiest thing to do. There are lots of people and society as a whole who will fight against you. It isn’t easy at all.’
’To answer your question, there is one key to find out what is a sin in African Traditional Religion, and that is jealousy and greed. Any action and thoughts that are motivated by jealousy and greed is a sin. This is because jealousy and greed leads one away from their Chosen Destiny, and therefore you are not facing Reality, which is the biggest of all sins.
’Therefore, playing the dozens is not a sin, it is a game started long ago in Africa between tribes who had a very close relationship. They were such good friends until nobody got angry. In fact, the dozens is one way to establish friendship.
’Haven’t you noticed that when your Mom and Daddy are in a playful mood, they sometimes joke about each other’s fathers or other members of their family? It is the same thing, an African way of showing affection.
’However, when Africans found themselves enslaved in America, 1619-1865, Black boys and men played the dozens to learn self-discipline to fortify themselves against the rape and whipping of your mothers and sisters by White men. Related to that situation, Black men created the curse word motherfucker; this was the only curse word African Americans created.’
Me: ’You said you are everybody’s Grandpa, do you know my Grandpa Ben and Tom?’
Priest Sowa: ’Yes.’
Me: ’Tell me about them.’
Priest Sowa: ’To tell you about your grandpas, I will have to tell you about their times. And to understand their times, you must know about the times before their times, especially about their fathers and mothers who were born in different times: George and Kate Benjamin-Anderson and Ida Johnson and George and Serena Talton-John and Hester Allen.’
Me: ’I heard about them, they are Mom and Daddy’s grandpas and grandmas.’
Priest Sowa: ’They were all born in the late 1840s and throughout the 1850s, which meant they were born in slavery times and were slaves. And they lived through one of the most important periods in American history, the freeing of the slaves, which was one of the side effects of the Civil War.
’Although technically speaking the first Blacks brought to this country in 1619 were indentured Servants and freed when their time was up. Blacks did not become slaves until the slave laws of 1660s-70s. From the 1660s to 1865 when slavery mostly ended, about 200 years, for all practical purposes there were no Black families; this was the first time in the history of the world that this ever happened.
’Black people were property to be bought and sold like hogs and cattle; therefore, for 200 years or so all the Black generations were orphans for the most part. So this made your great grandparents the last orphan generations. They were also the transitional bridge between Black’s slavery and semi- freedom.
’Therefore, after the Civil War, 1865 to about 1880, when your great grandmas and grandpas’ generation got married and started families, theirs were the first African American families, and your grandpa and grandma’s generation was the first African American generation to be born into families.
’However, the last of the orphan generation did not have a tradition of family values to pass on to your grandpa and grandma’s generation, because of slavery. So it was up to them to create family values to start a family tradition; and your grandpa’s and grandma’s generation realized those values and passed them on to your mother and father’s generation, and they passed them on to you. And it was from these values that you chose your moral code, thinking it was a new religion.
’Your great grandparents were like a person who has spent thirty years in the penitentiary and let out into a world of KKKs and lynching, and they had no weapons to fight with. It was like they jumped out of the fire into the frying pan. However, through the sheer force of their fortitude, drive, and determination, laid the foundation for a way to fight back and win; their very survival was the greatest act of heroism in African American history. And in the middle of that, it was their generation who gave birth to the Black family.
’Your Grandpa Tom’s father, George Talton, was a spiritualist, African style, from the time he was a boy; in the sense he could call up spirits and talk with them. However, although he learned to call spirits, he never learned how to dismiss them, and this became a problem. As he got older, he had so many spirits around him, he got into the habit of shouting at them to leave him along, and people begin to think that something was wrong with his mind.
’So when your grandpa Tom reached the cross roads of puberty, as you are at the moment, he reached a conclusion he was going to follow mechanical logic, and he begin to study to be a Blacksmith to protect himself from his father’s emotional and spiritualist state of mind. This led your grandpa to become an intellectual and govern his life by principles discovered by logic. And he became a Preacher of his own brand of Christianity.
’On the other hand, your Grandpa Ben’s father, George Benjamin, came out of slavery with a bad attitude.
’Your Grandpa Ben did not know his father very well; his mother raised him. He did not know what happened between his mother and father when they separated, but whatever it was, he thought she took it out on him and his brother George Jr.; anyway they got punished a lot, and that was the reason as far as he was concerned.
’Unlike your grandpa Tom, your grandpa Ben is more on the emotional side than the intellectual side. And his religious beliefs are based on voodoo and nature spirits, which means he leaned more toward African Religion, while your grandpa Tom leaned toward Marcus Garvey style of Christianity.
’While thinking is the voice of the mind, feeling is the voice of the soul. As the Yoruba would say, thinking is the voice of the outer head and feeling is the voice of the inner head. This is why when you ask your grandpa Tom a question he always led his answer with ’I think such and such.’ And when you ask your grandpa Ben a question he led his answer with ’I feel this way about it.’
’On the other hand, as your grandpas became young men and began their families around the turn of the twentieth century, there were two Black spokesmen as far as White people were concerned, they were W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington.
’Your grandpa Tom, thinking like DuBois, believed in equality and integration. But he also thought in terms of trying to find ways to make White people pay for slavery and the lynching going on in his lifetime. And by the nineteen twenties he had become disillusioned about that ever happening. So when Marcus Garvey started his ’Back to Africa Movement’ he joined, and became a follower of that line of thought for the rest of his life.
’On the other hand, your grandpa Ben felt along the lines of Booker T. Washington as far as economics is concerned. He believed in working hard and saving his money, and as long as he had money he would be all right.
’As far as integration and equality, because of slavery and lynching, he did not want to live with Whites, or be like them; although he was careful not to hate them because he was afraid of what hate would do to his mind.
’He did not look for ways to make Whites pay for slavery and lynching because he did not feel that they had anything to pay with. He felt that he could protect his family with voodoo and his shotgun, and later when Marcus Garvey’s ’Back to Africa’ movement began, he felt that going back to Africa was ’running away;’ which meant he had no doubts whatsoever that we could survive in America.’
Me: ’You are telling me lots of things I don’t understand, especially this stuff about my Soul, and a religion I never heard about before. But I really like what you said about my great grand parents.’
Priest Sowa: ’I am answering your questions, and from some of the decisions you are making, I know you will need these answers in the future, so I am telling you this now so you will have it when you need it. Meanwhile, the thing for you to keep in mind is that now you are beginning a journey on the path of manhood, through puberty. This is what it means to have a dialogue with your history.’
All of a sudden I found myself back lying on the sand in the middle of the day near my private swimming pool still thinking about what he had said. The things I remembered about what he said and the answers he gave me supported my position, and gave me some insight into what I was doing and why, and his words had a force of truth that could not be denied.
However, this was too complicated for me to deal with, I put it on file to deal with later in life, the only thing ringing in my ears was the Priest Sowa saying, I was a man, and had the God given right to do what I wanted to do. This part I understood very well, and now since I had become a Village Kid, I was going to push this do what I want to do to its’ limits.
There was one thing that I was too young to take into consideration at that time; in finding a way of getting around the Christian moral rules that were obstacles to what I wanted, I held on to others that I did not pay any attention too. And when I accepted the African religion of Chosen Destiny, this caused a contradiction that led to a great spiritual crisis in my life. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s return to my being a Village Kid.