Yesterday I was watching the History Channel. There was a two-hour documentary called Blood Diamond. It chronicled the history of diamond mining in Africa, and what lead to the conflicts in Angola and Sierra Leone/Liberia over the last decade or so. The documentary is very well produced and really informative, but often hard to watch the footage of all kinds of carnage that took place against people caught in between the political/financial gluttony of a few.
As I well know, Liberia and Sierra Leone were established as countries by the US, France and Great Britain to re-patriate (formerly i guess) enslaved blacks in the Diaspora back to the continent in the 19th century. Well I had never thought about the possibility of my own family members possibly being among those who left the US to go to West Africa.
That is, until last night.
As I was watching Blood Diamond, and during one segment when they were interviewing a woman fromSierra Leone, in what appeared to be a small village. She was telling her storyof having been raped and beaten by army and/or militia men. While she was speaking, her name across the bottom of the screen: Musu Farrow.
Farrow is not a common last name in the US (though it is somewhat in the UK). Basically, there are Farrows in NE Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. If they’re black, they’re related to me. There are also a lot of “Farrows” in the Carolinas. One of the major roads in Columbia, SC is Farrow Rd. A paternal great-grandfather was from South Carolina, and had migrated to Western PA where my paternal grandfather and father were born. The first time I went to Columbia, I thought, “The Farrows must have owned a lot of slaves.”
I do not know for sure if this mahogany brown woman (with small almond eyes like my younger sister) is at all a distant blood relative. For years I have wanted to research my genealogy, and both sides of my families feel as though I am the one to do it (because I am a writer, I suppose). But as she may or may not be a relative, it did awaken in me a series of questions, those inaudible voices about who we are and what happened to us, that I think that every African in the diaspora is continuously haunted by.
And will probably never be fully heard.