It has been eight months since my last post. Not surprising. This month, I defend my dissertation. The last eight months have been “in utero”, if you will. Me, the dissertation, memory, the ancestor.
What is it like to be “in labor”? To prepare to deliver this memory narrative as scheduled, as planned?
For one thing, I cannot think of this process separate from the work I have been learning to do as a birth and postpartum doula. And because of this, I can say that I feel loved and supported by my different communities.
I can also say that I won’t know what I really feel until I begin the actual process. I can only plan and have everything I think I need available to me. But until I arrive in the room, open my mouth, and meet everyone’s eyes, I won’t know what I feel.
What has been keeping me grounded? Thinking about other births and memories. As I begin to transition from student to … don’t know what this is yet on the personal and spiritual levels although it is defined professionally…
As I begin to transition, births of all types have started to occupy me. Specifically, after reading Otero and Falola’s Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas (2013), I’ve been considering the role of the great African mothers in assisting African women as they traveled the Middle Passage and when they arrived on different shores.
How did Yemoja help African women birth new ancestors and remember the old ones? How did they help them re-member and access ancestral memory to heal from the violence against their bodies – land, their physical bodies, the bodies of their families?
At the end of the dissertation, a document that some may argue is about death and dying, I am asked to understand birth and rebirth. But, the truth is that death and dying are the other side of birth and rebirth.
In the Yoruba worldview, the womb is the gateway, the liminal space in which the ancestor – if she has chosen to return – enters to re-enter the world.
In the end, the end of one memory is the beginning of a new one. What this is I don’t know.