Repairing the Broken Chord of Ancestry

Article excerpt

KINSHIP

By Philippe Wamba Dutton

288 pp., $24.95

Slavery and its aftermath have created a complex situation for both Africans and African-Americans.

African-Americans have had to build a home in America and find acceptance in a country that viewed them as inferior. Africans, meanwhile, have had to break the chains of colonialism to create a home in a land that was once their own. Although they were once from the same continent, now miles of distance and years of separation have created two distinct peoples.

In "Kinship," Philippe Wamba attempts to show "how and why Africans and African-Americans have historically been bound in a voluntary and involuntary cultural and political partnership, yet often too far separated by culture, geography, prejudice, and history to forge a meaningful and functional sense of racial unity."

The child of an African father and African-American mother, Wamba provides a balance of both perspectives. His younger years were spent in Tanzania; he returned to America to attend college.

Historically, the plantation system in America mixed slaves from different tribal groups and discouraged any African cultural practice. The need for slaves to find solace in the misery of their experience led to the mythical presentation of Africa shared among generations of slaves.

Through time, these stories focused on the positive homeland from which they were taken, while the negative aspects were not discussed. What remained after generations was the glorification of the African homeland that still exists for many African-Americans today. …