High School Hair: Accra, Ghana

By Larry H. Spruill

While visiting a high school in Ghana, an African-American middle school student noticed that not only did all the girls wear the same uniforms but also had the same close cropped natural hair styles. There were no perms, weaves, or braids.

She asked the the headmaster, “Why did all the girls have short hair?” The headmaster replied, “It is important that all of our girls practice good grooming. Short hair is required by the school to assure a standard and inexpensive way of meeting that objective.”

It made sense. The focus was on instruction and not fashion. There would be plenty of time for make up and glamor. School was not about clothes and hair but books, paper, and pens.

A Cool Sanctuary

By Larry H. Spruill

And the Lord appeared unto Abraham…and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. and he lifted his eyes and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them he ran to meet them and bowed himself toward the ground. And said, My Lord I hope I have found favour in thy sight. Stay with me. Let me get a little water and wash your feet. Stay and rest yourself under the tree.

Genesis 18:1-4

Fiery rays
fueling the flaming
cauldron of boiling air
Sapping the essence of life
Water streaming from the body
to cool the flesh
with no affect.

Shaking the mind
signaling danger
Blurring the vision of
Blackened bodies
wilted and bowed
before the heavenly torch
mock time steps
sneaking through the oppressive
midday heat
seeking a refuge
a cool sanctuary of life
to wait for the
daily extinguishing
of the candle of light
and the rise of
the pillar of fire by night.

Just Give Me Something

By Larry H. Spruill

Giving Alms

I saw her at the market
She was accompanied by her angels
who shielded her with their wings
from the blazing solar flames
She was engaging, enchanting
A smile graced with pearls
Soft eyes hushed by green mango leaves
Then she spoke…
“Just give me something…”
I replied,
“Such as I have I give unto thee.”
I reached into my purse…
Gave her my offering…
The she said,
“You may have me.”
I raised my camera
and closed
the shutter
unto life.

Sankofa’s Wings: Homeward

By Larry H. Spruill

They took you away
in the hole of wooden ships
across the Great River.
You have returned on Sankofa’s wings
on the cushions of God’s clouds.

On the wings of
The Sankofa Bird
hastily fleeing
the setting New York sun
darkness falls quickly
in heavenly places
above the Atlantic.

The open portals reveal
a deep blackness
an impenetrable blue black
moonless sky
disturbed by the noisy roar
of the silver mechanical bird
piercing the starless midnight
heading for an African nest

Like a mystical homing pigeon
transporting a people
to their roost
in a distant
but not forgotten place
where soon and very soon
the sun shall rise again.

Africa Has Taught Me

By Larry H. Spruill

Africa has taught me the Zen lesson
of peace and contentment with
my life’s lot.
Though I desire much more…

Africa has taught me
not to ask
for more than
I can see and touch
before me.
I give thanks for
what is at my door.
The mango, banana,
peppers and yam
golden sunny skies
The gentle seasonal rain
and the friendly Great River.

I give thanks
for my God with
big ears and long arms
for my family
my friends.
Though I desire much more…

Africa has taught me
The wisdom in grasping
the joy in what
I can see and touch
before me.

Naked Africa – Sensual America

By Larry H. Spruill

Naked Africa
is not inherently indecent
Being fully clothed
with unrighteous
intentions and deeds
is the shame of all humanity.
Public pornography is a
western phenomena
determined by law as a
community regulated constitutional right.
There are few public displays
of overt sexuality in African cityscapes.
The overriding law is the promotion of
the wholesome and visual good of
the community, clan and nation.

The gyrations of traditional dance
are not sexual in the western sense.
They are related to fertility…
The divine reason for the oneness of…
man and woman
husband and wife
father and mother…

This For That

By Larry H. Spruill

Transcending Guilt – Embracing Commitment

There is nothing noble about poverty.
Americans admire the cultural, moral
and spiritual wealth of Africans.
We scourge ourselves with guilt for
indulgence in materialism.
We acknowledge our disadvantaged
spirits and souls.

We pretend as if we do not understand
why Africans want what we have so much of.

We say things like,
“In many ways the African is better off than we are.
They have little but they have joy and peace.”

These monologues make us feel better as we
board planes back to our homes, cars, jobs
and favorite Starbucks.
We came. We saw. We gave dollars.
In our hearts,
We know we received more than we gave.
If we look in the mirror,
we ask ourselves
Is there something else I can do?

This kind of guilt is ours. The exotic fantasy is over. The people are our people. We cannot leave them nor the animals and environment to the whims of Euro tourists. We have more than leisure time dollars. We have zionist obligations to bring more than our discretionary coins. We have developmental contributions to make. Don’t worry. We do not have to trade our opulence for the magic of kente and the sacred drum and dance. Besides such bartering would be an unthinkable
quid pro quo.

And We Still Dance

By Larry H. Spruill

Dancing Till Death

Grandma, Mama, and Auntie
dancing like fertile maidens
moving hands and shoulders
head and hips
silky smooth like
Harlem dance hall queens
gently smiling
walking and sailing along
improvised choreographed
ancestral paths
beautiful gray-haired
honeyed women
of an Asante royal harem
painting slow motion pictures
of African womanhood
for the lost-found daughters
from across the great river
Queen Mothers
still dancing the dance
inviting ancestral blessings
welcoming their American
daughters and sons
home to a forgotten world
of drum and song
the spirit of African life.

Dancing the Dance, The Hawkers Ballet

By Larry H. Spruill

With calculating, deliberate steps
of a pride of hunting lions
Eyes scanning for coins and small bills
in exchange for
bright colored bananas
skillfully shaved, skinless oranges
rainbow fabrics, plantain chips,
batteries, and a sundry of
bodega goods, goods, goods
balancing on broad round
metal plates dancing on
the head and neck of
black and brown faces
never falling
never worried about
can I or can’t I
dance the dance
above my eyes

Graceful crane-like arms
reaching toward the sky
choreographed movements
rehearsed from infancy to death
doved hands gliding
to the nest
precisely clutching the right
item with flawless agility

Dancing the dance
with rhythmic perfection
balancing their
shops and kiosks
on the streets of
Accra and Kumasi.

Infant Eyes

By Larry H. Spruill

The children of
Kokorbite, Ghana
West Africa

Tomorrow’s eyes
today and yesterday
So much to see
to discover
to know…to master
A real new world
a planet
waiting for
their glowing souls’
darkly paned mirrors
reflecting duel lightening bolts
piercing, x-raying
making naked
the yes…no…
and maybes of life
in the twilight
of a foreboding