I ni ce! I ni ce means “hello” in the Bambara language of Africa, spoken primarily by Malians (people of Mali). My paternal family that was enslaved and brought to Roseau, Dominica in the West Indies comes from Mali. Many people from Dominica (the original name of the isle being Wai’tukubuli’ meaning “long is her body” in Kalinago” come from Mali, Guinea and Senegal in West Africa.
Since deciding to legally change my slave name to Nomolanga Achieng Eksenwe and my son’s French name to Chilongola Masego Eksenwe, I’ve begun to learn more about the rich history of Mali from the Mali Empire to present day traditions and customs. I know I cannot continue the African legacy of my ancestors “Davis and Celestine” without acquiring the knowledge to teach myself and my son Malian culture including the Bambara language, which is surprisingly easy to learn.
Just as Chinese-Canadians or Indian-Canadians practice some cultural aspects of their native heritage (as well as aspects of Western culture, inevitably); I too, want to teach my son about the rich ancient history of Africa from Menes and Thebes to Queen Candace of Ethiopia and Queen Tye.
My family has ridiculed me about my newfound Black consciousness which begun ironically, in a rural White town I moved to where I clung to a wise, white Rastafarian woman with boundless knowledge of African and Black culture as well as four, beautiful Black Rastafarian children she has that are homeschooled and taught real Black history and critical thinking. It was her who lent me books on ancient Africa and encouraged me to change stubborn Westernized views about myself and my people. In the process, though I have much to learn, I have learned to be even prouder of being African.
With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which, with a Black son, has sparked my interest and who I hold solidarity with, I began to read the works of Angela Y. Davis, Assata Shakur, Huey P. Newton, bell hooks, Frederick Douglass and others. This furthered my knowledge in racism and sexism and also helped me to see that my people are not just oppressed and without hope. We have fought long and hard since we were removed from Mother Africa. We did not readily accept slavery, we brave men and women and we continue to fight oppression and systemic racism today. So, I say, hello, to all my African brothers and sisters and to all our brothers and sisters because we are of one race: the human race. Unity and peace is what I strive the world, and self-acceptance and self-love of my Blackness is what I strive for in this blog.