On my first day and a night in Burkina Faso, the birth place of my partner Adé, we witnessed a lunar ellipse. I can't speak to the eclipse's meaning elsewhere in the world beyond our goat-haunted neighborhood, but right then, in the heart Ouagadougou, the eclipse heralded joy and drums. Homemade or homefound drums made from tin, plastic, wood, and calloused palms; struck by sticks, rocks, swinging legs, smacking hands, stomping feet, baby rattles, the femur of a goat. Thundering hearts on beating chests.
The kids came out from the dark like little bits torn free from its edges, animated with flashing grins and eyes in the island of yellow light created by the street lamps over the sky-blue door to Ade's family compound. You heard them before you saw them, an army gone hunting for the great cat that eats moons.
They seek to drive it out.
Youūng yonk kiougou, bassa ta loogé!
They dare to drive it off and demand it let her go.
Bassignè ta toudga sooré!
Even when the moon reappears, the children don't stop playing. There's really no telling when or if the hungry cat will come back. It's best to be thorough. Finally, one child-the girl on the right, I think-decides she must be the leader. The others follow her deeper into the night, chasing the cat back through his hole under the fence. From there, who knows where the wild hunt will take them. But we can hear the drums long after our camera has stopped recording. This is Adé's homecoming.
My love hasn't been back in her country for over four years, and then it was only for a week (the last eclipse she witnessed here was almost seventeen years ago). I suspect this trip is hitting her a thousand different ways. Or maybe hit is the wrong word, too violent.
Enveloping. Feeding. Nourishing.
For me, it was also a kind of a homecoming, but in the African-American-returning-to-the-motherland fable kind of way. It was fabulous, fantastic even, but in a way more in line with the speculative uses of those words. A narrative of suspended belief the meanings of which are still distant: about 400 years deep and 4,800 miles wide. Writing this blog is a way to help me process the experience. I'll make it mine by sharing it with you.
Not my real name, but it does roll right off the tongue, doesn't it?