A Warm Welcome:
The children and youth of the village embraced us with uncontainable excitement. Their eyes sparkled with curiosity and wonder, mirroring my own eagerness to learn. Mama Zumba, the elder who had graciously hosted us in her home, cooked for us and imparted her wisdom with love and generosity.
There was only one person in the village that could recall any memory of my grandmother. Unfortunately for us, that generation was no longer around in the village. Nonetheless, we were still embraced as people who had returned home.
As we delved into conversations about culture, I was able to learn a lot about our people’s custodianship of the land, and how the land is relied upon entirely for every aspect of life.
Intrigued, I sought to understand more about the specific plants that sustained them, their traditional uses, and their significance in daily life. Discussions veered from the agricultural practices of growing food to the cultivation of tobacco and cannabis, as well as the abundant array of fruits that graced their tables.
A Profound Experience:
The days unfolded with a surreal sense of wonder. As the word got around, the elders from the nearby villages came to visit, bridging the generational gap and uniting us in a shared quest for knowledge and connection. We found ourselves teaching the children how to count in English, exchanging laughter and joy in the process. The hospitality extended was overwhelming, and every encounter left me humbled by the genuine warmth and kindness.
We were guided back to the exact location of where our ancestor’s village once stood. There we were shown the full boundaries of its territory and reminded of our custodianship to the land.
The river, the only water source for the village, runs through the land.
A Glimpse into the Past, a Vision for the Future:
This journey was transformative, not only in the knowledge gained, but also in the profound sense of belonging and ownership that took root within me. I learned more about the cultural legacy that had been passed down through generations, and I felt the calling to preserve and share it with future generations, starting with my children.
The experience underscored the significance of our land and the fundamental rights that come with it. It was also a reminder of the duty to protect and honor a legacy and heritage.
As I reflect upon this remarkable journey, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to reconnect with my ancestors’ land and to uncover the hidden treasures of our past. The journey has empowered me with a wealth of information and a renewed sense of purpose.
It has reminded me that the stories of our ancestors are not just faded memories but living, breathing threads that continue to weave the fabric of our existence. Armed with this newfound knowledge, I now embark on the next chapter of my life, eager to embrace my heritage and contribute to the legacy of those who came before me.