Homegoing is the debut novel of Yaa Gyasi; a young Ghanaian-American woman who is simply put, inspiring, unapologeticly truthful, and a talented writer. As I read her book, the stories of La Reine Abla Pokou came to mind. The little Akan I also know came rushing to me. For instance, I knew the meaning of Akwaaba which means 'Welcome'. Nyame for God. French speaking Akans say Niamien. There was also Maame and Yaw; the names of two characters. French speaking Akans say Mammi and Yao respectively. So many words in this book took me way back home and made me emotional a bit. It also reminded be of the fact that as a Madinka, my Akan friends always point out that I look like an Akan; both in the USA and back in Africa this has happened many, many times. The last time I heard that it wasn't even two months ago. I always reply, "Maybe, it must be in my blood somewhere." So, at times I felt like I was connecting with my own ancestors in another country I wasn't born in but that I certainly have ties in while I read this book.
Homegoing was definitely a homecoming for me as well, and I didn't want it to end but I wanted to read all the stories of the different characters highlighted in it. It's divided into two parts and spans over a period of 300 years or so. The story starts with the accounts of two separated half-sisters and then each chapter focuses on the trials and achievements of the descendants of these two sisters from the 18th century to the 21st century alternating between Africa and America.
It was a recommended read by a good friend and an older sister. I'm glad I had a chance to read it. The book is powerful and unforgettable. Many passages struck me because they reflected many of my thoughts for it's about slavery and how it started. It's also about the long lasting effect it had and has upon Africa and America.
Gyasi makes it clear it that we all make mistakes and forgiveness is imperative. We also get a clear sense that we shouldn't be bystanders when anybody from any race is mistreated because being quiet can pave your future in an undesirable way. Homegoing is a also an Historic testament for the wrongs done to Africans by Africans. In one of my short story called The Nanny, I wrote, "Sooner or later, every nation pays for the crimes of its ancestors...Africa is still paying for selling their own blood to ambitious traders during the slave trade."
Homegoing reflects that slave trade and how the two half-sisters' lives are affected by the slave trade. The descendants of the sister brought to America by force meet a difficult life still going on today while the descendant of the other half-sister comes to America willingly. This descendant also faces challenges like identity issues. In the end, fate will have it.
Every African should read this novel. The plight of Blacks in America needs to change. Africans must not act like it's not their issue. It's our issue! We must make it right! We had a huge hand in the fate of our brothers and sisters, the African-Americans, in this country. It's mainly our fault and the Akan proverb embodies it by saying, “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.” When I first came to the USA, it took me a while to really see things. The father of one of the main character even says that people need time to see things clearer too. And after I read this post, I saw even more clearly what I had to do to play my part in this fight :).
My rating : 5/5
Thank you for reading,