I’m a bit emotional today. People close to me have lost their loved ones over the weekend and I share in their grief by extension. For me, the closest I have come to losing a loved one, is a friend who was more like a brother. That is an indescribable kind of sorrow that I would never wish on anyone even though it’s inevitable. I tell you this, no one ever really heals from that, you only learn to cope and live with it a day at a time. To anyone that has lived through this type of grief, I lack the best words to convey my emotions. Receive this hug and know you are a Legend.
“Anyone can be a Legend.”
I caught sight of this phrase on a billboard some years back. An ad for a Kenyan brandy drink. The words did not instantly enter my head. I didn’t give them much attention anyway. Today however, they have come into my consciousness. I am puzzled about the entanglement that exists between legendary and booze. Then I remember what they say; a drunk mind speaks the heart. In Latin they say, in uino ueritas which means, In wine, there is truth. There’s a significant likelihood of hearing truths from a person under the influence of alcohol and that in itself, is Legendary. So yeah! Legends.
Flashback to about seven weeks ago, I was rereading this; Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass. It is a strangely compelling true story which makes the book is a page-turner from the start to the end.
Douglass was an African-American Social Reformer, Abolitionist, Orator, Writer and Statesman. He was the first black man to rise to a prominent position in the U.S Government. Before that, Frederick had been a slave in Maryland for the better part of his life where the norm was, to be overworked, underfed, and whipped. I’m certain most of you, if not all, have watched the movie, Twelve Years a Slave. You somehow have an idea of how slavery was driven; the emotional, psychological and the physical torture. It brutalized every faculty of man.
In this memoir, Douglass narrates his life in slavery and anyone who gets to read it and not tear or even cry, isn’t human enough. His voice is full of broken glasses
“I would watch my mates mercilessly beaten to death. The master would whip a slave to make them scream, and whip them to make them hush. The louder they screamed, the harder he whipped; and where blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest until he was overcome by fatigue.” He says
I could go on, but let me not.
By the time Douglass was writing this book, he had escaped servitude and was a self made writer. He had no formal education. He says though, that he learnt how to read and write from the White Street boys while still in slavery in exchange for bread. They needed food more, he needed knowledge. See, great suffering produces great art.
He says, when reading his narratives and listening to his speeches, not even his slave masters ever believed he had never been to school. He was determined to not spend his entire life a slave, both mentally and physically, which was the case for most of them. He was determined to fight for the black man’s rights in white man’s land. Which he did. He later became a National leader of the Abolitionist Movement from Massachusetts and earned credit for his oratory and incisive anti-slavery writings.
“They no longer treated me as a color, but as a man.” He remarks.
Moral: When you finally make your mark, no one remembers your tribe, your color or your gender. What counts, is the difference you made.