Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Secret Lives of Little Girls, Part 5: The Tribe


Denise, age 3, in Pottstown, PA with Freckles

An excerpt from my 10th grade English essay "Problems in South Africa" on CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY:

"Perhaps at the root of all the problems in South Africa is the total destruction of the tribe. In order to be successful in this world, everyone must have a base at which morals, family bonds, pride in history and background, and a sense of stability exist. Without these, a person has no guidance, no roots, and no future. To live is not just to survive, like so many natives in South Africa found themselves doing, but to truly feel that you have a place in this world. For all natives, this place was once in a tribe, that is, before it was ripped out from under them. Throughout history, people have always been weakened when they were by themselves..."

I made an A+/52 on this paper. Mrs. Williamson loved the content, but she was a grammar Nazi, and I had a few run-ons that killed that part of the grade. I have always loved everything I've ever read by African writers. I haven't loved what happened to my tribe, how my tribe has not flourished in this world, and how I have struggled myself. As hard as I try, my darkest moments are about feeling incredibly alone, and my biggest fears are about being sick and never wanting to disappoint anyone. Death, depression, anger, and illness dominated the major events of my childhood, and have certainly continued as themes within my family. But there are many stories to tell, and there was a life that I lived that was about survival and joy and love and laughing.

This series about my childhood is my modern tribal dance.