Abra: Ode to Mama Africa. Mother of All Civilization, Creation, Black Nations. I worship you. Fall at your feet. Your dark black feet. That walked the earth since the beginning of time, those cracks are bloodlines. Your soles ground me. Laying the foundation of We
Felicia: 1440…Taken from the shores of our homeland, Africa. Taken from prosperous and regal life of Egypt, Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Zimbabwe and all of our other nations. 50 million lost. Stricken by disease, death, hate and dying hope…we fought, we died, we cried. Suffering immensely and asking why? And when will it end.
Aisha: Africa, oh Africa. My Africa. Born of your bosom. Seed rocking in your cradle
You have birthed us all.
ALL: (But where exactly did I come from?)
Meida: They tell the stories of our Nubian Ancestors. Of Egyptian Kings and Queens. Of Pharoah, of Cleopatra, of Nefertiti, of Shaka Zulu. Of Sheba’s Queen
Abra: Arrival…strange lands. Where was mother Africa? The sunset? The rhythmic drums to which we gracefully danced? The fertile land of fruit, color, life, togetherness? We wonder. Questions echo in our minds. Why are we here? Where are we going? And who are these strange, pale-looking people who speak these strange tongues?
Felicia: Africa, oh Africa. My Africa…My Africa? I don’t have the history. Though I know (because I’ve been told) that I was born of Nubian kings and queens. Where is the crown that was supposed to be handed down to me?
Aisha: Africa is always warm, becuz you are the sun. I wrap myself in your warmth. In kente, in mud cloth. I bathe and bask in your glow. I make love to your image. I look in your eyes and see queens. I see the African sun, many moons ago. Ooooooooo Mamasita Africa. Your beauty, your history. Your locs, fros, cornrows, are braided into the fibers of jazz, of hip-hop. I run my fingers through them. I oil them, make them shine
Meida: I see you. With your deep coco, amber, beige, copper ebon eyez. I see you. Strike out caged beasts of no nation, immaculate creations.
Abra: No dark continent are you. But what exactly are you then? A murky puddle of memories I cannot see? A symbol of place and pride and land BEFORE…
ALL: (Before what?)
Felicia: What exactly came before, Mother Africa? (Is it alright to call you that?) Your Afric children displaced are struggling to know what you should mean to us now…Are you the holding place of my story? The stories and stuff of black America’s fantasies?
Aisha: I want to see my reflection. I, You, He, She, Us, We. I want to inter-loc arms as one natural, Nubian nation. Children of the most high, my Mama Africa.
Meida: I see you. Rise, rise up. It’s time to change the channels. The rebellion is near, are you prepared? Grow your hairs nappy, learn the meaning of the daishiki! Cut yourself a hot piece of the struggle: brother, lover, father, uncle, friend. The Black Power Movement is back: It’s tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!
ALL: I am Africa
Abra: I square my shoulders. Lift my head. I am a proud Queen
Felicia: I am the creator of pyramids. Of science and mathematics. My home is gold. Is diamond. Is oil. Is the birthplace of man
ALL: I am Africa. All praises due?
Aisha: Our imagined homogeneous Africa does not fit her heterogeneous realities.
Meida: If you gave me an unlabeled map, I would not be able to locate your discrete nations.
Abra: I am ignorant, Sweet Africa of your anatomy
Felicia: Your arteries and veins, your organs are mysteries to me
ALL: I DO NOT KNOW YOU AFRICA
Aisha: Yet I continue to invoke your name in romantic stories of kingdoms and empires that I use as my legacy
ALL: I DO NOT KNOW YOU AFRICA
Meida: Yet I call recognize you as family. Do you even know my name?
Aisha: And if you do know my name, will you call me soon?
Felicia: And if you do call me soon, will I mistake you for someone else?
Abra: Because there are so many peoples and places that you could be, that you are…
Felicia: Can I know you in those other spaces, identify you in those other faces?
ALL: I think I can, I hope I can, I know I can (Repeat)
[Sound: Track #11 begins (Fela Kuti / “Beasts of No Nation”) dance]
[Women end in a clump at downstage right. Track #11 ends.]
Aisha: We lay claim to the names bestowed upon us. What are our names? Our cultural memberships? Our marks of shame? Our marks of empowerment?
Abra: And where must we say them? Where is it necessary to call them onto ourselves in order to be recognized? To recognize ourselves, doing battle with the name, but also loving it
Meida: Wearing it like a dress that needs letting out every now and then. Wearing it like a coat with holes that need patching, productive patching
Felicia: These bodies, these names are in constant circulation. Doing the work of recognition, of silence, of invisibility, of what these bodies are connected to here and now, and then and there, and elsewhere. In the passing of this moment, who am I now? What is my name?