Point of No Return
I took a DNA test that said I shared a bloodline with people from Lagos, Nigeria. In January of 2019, I continued my journey to see it with my own eyes.
My journey became the performance. I went there to visit the place where my ancestors were stolen to learn more. I documented my experience and that sparked the fire for me to travel all over the world telling the story of other people of the black diaspora.
As I was there, the sound of waves filled my soul as I stood on the shore, and reached my hand into the sand as a way of me touching my family’s past. I stood on the shores of “The Point of No Return,”and I felt the history. I remember them telling me, once you stand on these sands, you do not come back. I was haunted. It felt mystical. I took a few moments to catch my breath.
During my stay in Badagry, Nigeria I interacted with people of the major clans: Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba tribes. I had been using two brothers, one of whom was a police officer in training, along with me on the trip. They had my back during the trip.
I learned. I performed. And I documented.
The city bordered the place where the shores meet the sands.
On that day, immediately after photographing on the shores, I became sick—so sick that I could not stand. And I hardly ever get sick. Everyone surrounded me and said, “It’s the stress.” I thought about the stress slaves endured as they were cramped in small slave huts and as they made the transit from their own land to another against their will. I wondered what it must feel like to live in a city surrounded by notable symbols of slavery and oppression. One in particular caught my eye. It was a large statue with Africans breaking their chains and slave barracks that housed hundreds of slaves. They lived at The Point of No Return. It took hundreds of years before those chains actually broke. The scars are still there.
I am the other.
Self Portrait of a memory preserver
My sister Andrea and her daughter Sidney hold a pickled memory of me at the front yard of my childhood home in Stantonsburg, North Carolina.