Elmina: Student Poem

(Roman Johnson takes a photo from the top of Elmina Castle)


Manacled, mangled hands

Meshed together

Communion cups filled with

One part wine

One part hypocrisy

Jaundiced mold stains

Dirty stones

Scent of century- old death sweat

Mixed with blood and tears

Of children who were stolen from their homes

A ship called

Jesus carried lives

Over the howling sea that

Buried many

Perverting the sacred

Alleluia, rang the church that sat atop the prison

Chorusing, “Hail to Babylon!”

While Africans cried

In dark rooms weeping in agony

Peering through the rusty bars in their white hell

Beautiful hands toiled from dawn to dusk

 On cocoa plantations

Breaking the soil with their fingers,

Yet pulsating with an effervescent hope

Waiting for their Promised Land, a star in the sky, a


Our grandmothers with a fire in their voices sang with melodic intensity

Asking the wind for strength, the sun for a comforting rest

Our grandfathers stood with bravery, often in the face of death,

Wrapping the sun around their fingers and laughing in the presence of danger

Resisting the urge to cower before the monsters

They ran on the wooden panes of slave ships toward their freedom.

They willed their spirits on high, walking closer to Infinite, forever

Moving toward the music of their souls

They were the strong ones.

Their essence continues on, not in the dotted lines of books,

But in the souls of the ones who remember that they lived, moved, danced:

That they perished not in vain.

Written by Roman Johnson

Cape Coast, Ghana, July 17, 2012


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