African American Narrative: The Meaning of Life!

As you know, I am a social scientist. However even before I became a social scientist, I had one burning thought, and that was what the meaning of life is? I always believed that if I could understand that simple thesis, I could master life…in other words I could find joy in all that I did. So, I recently ask scholars from around the country to share their definition for the meaning of life and here are some of their responses:

  • “That is a good one…High expectations for all (and especially family members.”
  • “civil and reciprocal behavior amongst each other.”
  • “The Joy of Being with Others.”
  • “Life means an opportunity to live, learn, love, and to become a seeker of its creator.”

However, for many of us, it is difficult to grasp the meaning of life because of the many harmful challenges that we have been forced to endure. I believe that if we could understand our human greatness our worth, we might find the meaning of life and place it in an easy to understand context “love your fellow human.” Our world history is a beautiful but very complex one. It is one of death, love and magnificent creations. If you would like to experience the meaning of life for one African as he transitioned from his homeland to America to become a slave, please continue and read the narrative below. Though slave trading started as early as 1482 or so, it was expanded exponentially in about 1650.

I am Kwame because I was born on a Saturday and my local surname is Dzidefo meaning courage. I am a healthy young man playing in the fields and a band of Portuguese capture me. They place me in chains. I am confused because we have been trading partners it seems forever. They take me to Elmina Castle near Acura Ghana better known today as the Gold coast.

The Portuguese are less interested in our gold because the plantations on the American mainland needed more labor to grow crops. Though it was never written, the migrates to the new world required Africans and their mores specifically because they were healthy, smart, strong with advanced customs. During that period Africans were making tools, building what was considered modern structures, and growing food to feed many. So, they came to the new world with the knowledge to farm tobacco, cotton, corn, and other crops. Yes, they were indeed more valuable than gold and that made slave trade priceless.

I am taken to Elmina Castle and placed in a small room with 600 other men. The room is maybe 12 by 48 or so. I could be housed there for weeks or months with little or no food to eat and buckets placed in the four corners for us to relieve ourselves. Finally, after a few weeks, my day has come, and I am led to the door of “NO RETURN.” I have heard of the horrors of the new world, and I am scared. I have been told about the harsh treatment of my fellow brothers and sisters and the many deaths of my loved ones.

Finally, I along with the survivors from the small room I am loaded onto the boat. I am saddened because I watched at least a third of my brothers die in that tiny room. As we are forced unto the ship, I watch many of my brothers and sisters jump into the ocean because they would rather die than go to the new world.

On the long journey to the new world, we have little food, and we are often beaten. Again, I am sad because I watch at least a 3rd of my brothers die and be tossed overboard because they could not or would not make the journey to the New World. As I drift off to sleep, I recall the things that I miss most…I wish for a bath, but most of all I miss cleaning and brushing my teeth.

We finally, make it to the New World, oh well about a 3rd of us made it to the New World to begin hard labor for six to seven days a week from sun up to sun down.

Folks only the strongest, smartest, and most creative Africans made the long trip from Africa alive, and many of you are the ancestors of those people, and there is nothing that you cannot achieve, I mean nothing. So, when you see or hear about great discoveries or advancements by African Americans don’t be surprised.

For example, it is not surprising that the world can eat because an African American developed crop rotation-enabling farmers to grow food seasonally, and refrigeration that could safely carry meats and other products across the country and the world. Don’t be surprised when you hear that an African American completed the first successful open-heart surgery or created the technique to remove cataracts keeping many of us with eyesight into our twilight years. Don’t be surprised when you hear that maybe a black man designed the plans for the White House and perhaps the supreme court building as well because there is substantial evidence to support that contention. Don’t be surprised to hear that a black man helped Steve Jobs create his first floppy disc, don’t be surprised when you read that the cells of a Black woman are responsible for assisting scientist in their discovery of cures for many deadly diseases. Don’t be surprised to learn that the idea for the phone was; yes, you guessed it that of a Black man. African Americans invented the stop light, many parts for the automobile, souls for your shoes, blood plasma, gas mask, many of the safety features in trains, parts for our rockets and calculation to help our astronauts travel safely in space.

Yes, we as all humans are indeed the blessed ones, and we are the meaning of life!