First call me ignorant or just plain ole oblivious . . . because even though I skimmed the background info of Roots and knew (loosely) about it's subject matter, I never realized that this is an implied attempt at the author's story. I just assumed that it was all fiction...which makes the whole squeals of PLAGIARISM even WORSE. I mean seriously. My life might not always be the bees-knees, but it's mine.
Now, leaving that drama behind....
The first 30 chapters takes introduces us to Kunta Kinte when he's a barely born babe growing up in the African village of Juffure. Kunta has been named after his grandfather, a great man who has past. This seems to be a HUGE deal that my western civ mind cannot truly understand. But -and I do jump ahead here- I like how they view death, and although I don't believe in a Heaven or Hell, I do believe that energy reverts back to energy. *shrug*
He said that three groups of people lived in every village. First were those you could see - walking around, eating, sleeping, and working. Second were the ancestors, whom Grandma Yaisa how joined now.
"And the third people - who are they?" asked Kunta.
"The third people," said Omoro, "are those waiting to be born."(29)
After the village goes through a starvation and recuperates, Kunta moves into the second kafo. Kafos are stages of life, each identified with a unique ritual. The second kafo allows Kunta and his peers a loin cloth and the responsibility of goat-herding. The kafo that leads them to manhood is the most intimidating. The men of the village kidnap the boys and take them into the jungle for training. They learn how to hunt, listen to the animals, view the stars, and ultimately transition into men through the cutting of their foto.
Haley spends a lot of time painting this transition between Innocence and Experience; Childhood and Manhood. Kunta has realizations of the world at each kafo. It is a struggle for him to adapt to what it means to be a man. Primarily, not being able to show emotion, which is a struggle for him especially around his family. At times this makes him angry and petulant. Other times he feels loneliness. I found this part to be exemplary. It's all so HUMAN.
As he trudged on in the white blindness oh his hood, he knew he was leaving behind more than his father and his mother and his brothers and the village of his birth, and this filled him with sadness as much as terror. But he knew it must be done, as it had been done by his father before him and would some day be done by his son. He would return, but only as a man. (105)
Oh also, I love how Haley introduces slavery. In the village of Juffure, there are slaves, but the slaves have rights. In fact, one of the close members of the village is a slave and this surprises Kunta when he finds out. When they refer to the white man, toubob, and what happens to their slaves it is always much more (and as we know, rightfully so) horrific than their own people. The believe when the toubob capture their people and make them slaves they take them to "a land where slaves are sold to huge cannibals called toubabo koomi, who eat us. No man knows anymore about it." (72) Um, yeah, that would scare the beejebus out of me, for sure.
So that's about where we end. Kunta comes back a man. He eventually feels comfortable in this new role in the eyes of the village and his family.
One final commentary which really has nothing to do with the book, but more so a brain catch. When the village men grab the boys in their final "childhood" kafo, they put white cloth over their heads, and then, while in the village sure they told them the history of the tribe and taught them skills, but they also beat them and created this manly tribe within the tribe. Uhhh, am I the only one who immediately thought of fraternity rush? Seriously. I'm a big Jung fan and what I dig the most about him is this collective unconscious that sorta dumps all of our ancestral beliefs into our essences without it really being verbalized. (Dude, chill with me, I am on cold medicine right now...) So, like, this idea of Transition through some sort of Rush is actually pretty human while still being heathenistic. (And wouldn't gen pop of the west civ world consider that tribal ritual and those taking part in it heathens? Uneducated?). I don't know where I'm really going with this. Like I said, #fuzzybrain and all.
Oh, and I know my reading mates love the descriptions and yeah I was diggin' on them too. But now I'm sorta over it. Bring me more action and less description.
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