Imani at Boston Carnival with younger sister and eldest niece, circa 1983
How old were you when you learned of Africa?
Imani was 13. She had just discovered Bob Marley & The I-Threes. Their chants called for repatriation of Afro Diasporians to Africa, and a unified Africa as expressed by Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey, to name two of her idols.
Roots reggae of the 1970s boasted melodic chords confronting colonizers for the insurmountable destruction of their hate and greed. Rita, Judy and Marcia embodied a femininity Imani admired; hair adorned in towering head wraps of red, gold and green, long modest dresses whose cuts shaped their womanhood, and facial features exuding erasable African ties. This was different from her 1975 migrant reality, but a reminder of women she left home in Jamaica.
At 13, Imani learned of an Africa that was natural, expansive, high stakes, and full of color, and she wanted in!
From her 1990s vending of imported and handmade Afrocentric goods to Tafari Wraps’ Creating Textiles with Adinkra Symbols™ and accessories, Imani only knew to center her overstanding of Africa in a tightly hemmed frame. The textiles are dyed in indigo, woven in kente and aso oke, and wax print imbued with a complicated reality. Knowing she could not possibly know all that Africa has to offer, the drive for direct engagement grew stronger the deeper she went in her spirituality.
Imani dancing with friends at a Kwanzaa celebration where she was the host, circa 1995
In 2019, Imani’s frustration masked itself as depression. How could it be that with all her talent, the expansiveness of her heart, discipline towards her craft, relationship with Jah, and her work in the community that she could feel so stuck and drained? Aloud, she petitioned her ancestors to show her a way, tell her where she belongs! While cooking a pot of curry rundown mushrooms, with her coconut smashing rock in hand, Imani swung the stone to disassemble the coconut whose milk was to be added to her pot.
The force of her words and the strength of her swing sent piece of the coconut flying. Laying on the ground behind her was the most shocking of revelations. Imani stared at the broken off piece of coconut, shaped like Africa.
The broken piece of coconut formed after being struck by Imani while cooking
There are many tools used in ATR for divination. The coconut is used in Obi divination for matters of yes and no. While Imani is not a diviner of this regard, we know the power of coconuts, a symbolizer of the Orisha Eleggua (spelling varies based on your pantheon!). Eleggua is the Orisha of opened and closed doors. He is one of the Orishas one must petition at the onset of their spiritual work. When you ask spirit for guidance, it is for you to be observant and discern the signs presented. Spirit is everywhere, always speaking to and through us. On this day in 2019, all signs pointed to Africa!
It is with great joy that at 61 years-old TODAY, Imani has reached the Motherland.
As her daughter, it is my desire that she finds the love she has felt missing from her time in the West. That the oppression experienced here in Boston be a great teacher for navigating a new land. That her heart remains open, eyes observant and ears peeled. That the trauma inflicted upon her be removed and she can gather in community again. I desire her to grow deeper in her craft as an Ifa Priestess and master seamstress for what is divined for a woman named Faith- by her father at that!, can only be greatness.
To a bountiful 61, endless learning and a restoration of your heart; Imani, have a beautiful time on the Motherland.