:: by Kimalee Phillip ::
Mixed media artwork by Ammar Nsoroma
For I know only that which flows beneath my skin
That which flows within my blood
The stories and memories of ancestors within
The waters that flow within and among
El Caribe, because of you, my love and appreciation for the oceans, seas and rivers is one that is unwavering and at times, erratic. For I dream of soothing ocean waves, sun-kissed sand and worlds below, yet ah just can’t swim!
Recalling my dad trying to teach me how to swim; I was probably 6 or 7 years of age and though in his mind the ‘tough-skin’, do-or-die approach may have been one of sheer brilliance and innovation, it left me quite traumatized and I simply sunk to Yemaya’s/Olukun’s depths. It was probably 4 feet deep but shheeeeiiiittt, shit seems deeper and more intense when you’re only a tiny human.
Despite this unwanted yet memorable experience, I continue to remain drawn to the water. At the age of 28, my behind still can’t swim but yes, I remain very much part of her fluidity and unpredictable flows.
The soothing sound of the waves, the salty, desirable taste; the warm and course sand that embellishes her curves and edges always leave me wanting yet at the same time nervous by her uncertainty, spontaneity and tumultuous temper.
A few years ago, we witnessed a storm surge in Grenada. Now that was some scary ish! I remember us standing in our uniforms in town, where the old bus terminal used to be, watching with much anticipation and fear as the waves continued to grow as they approached us. Looking back, I still can’t explain why the maco part of ourselves got the best of us because we weren’t moving to save our lives.
There was something incredible about seeing what creatures inhabited our waters. From the starfish to the sea moss to the ones left unbeknown. It remains incredibly important and striking what lays beneath.
Our world does not only comprise of the living creatures, plants and soil on land. Our Mother Earth is so much more, from the human to the animal to the spirit world and the surrounding waters.
Mami wata, the one who is said to come for her children when she sees fit;
Mama La Diablesse, the one whose one cow foot leaves an indelible print in our rain-soaked paths;
Soucayant, I could swear that you were one Mr. Buds, everyone knew that Mr. Buds was a soucayant;
But then shouldn’t I have been able to tell that that was the person who left that mark on my neck over ten years ago?
From duppy baby to loup garou;
The folklore in all their glory continue….
And my love for the waters continue.
Maybe one day I’ll finally learn to swim and travel the unknown below.
But for now, I will remain drawn to the waters and the energies within.
From Accra to Nairobi to Zanzibar…
To the Caribbean,
This piece is published on Groundation Grenada as part of Code Red’s Blog Carnival, an invite for bloggers to write on the theme “To the Caribbean, With Love”!
Co-Director & Project Coordinator
Kimalee intentionally defines herself as an Afrikan woman born and raised in Grenada. The urgency of identifying with the continent is critical to her as she is sometimes witness to a continuous and in some cases, visceral attempt by Black [Afrikan] people to severe ties from the continent, many of whom she encountered while growing up in Grenada. Kimalee is an anti-colonial labour and community activist living and working in Toronto. She completed her Master’s degree in Legal Studies at Carleton University where she analyzed the colonial impacts on gender and violence against women in Grenada. She currently works as the Resource Coordinator with the York University Graduate Students’ Association and is also a Counselor with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape (TRCC/MWAR). Acknowledging the importance of labour solidarity and workers’ rights, she also serves as the Equity Officer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 1281 and does organizing work with the Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity.Twitter@KimaleePhillip