June 28, 2013
Thanks to Jeanette-Jabonkah’s new Facebook page, she has found her mother, Zena! When her FB page was setup, I advertised it in Liberia, where Jabonkah was born in 1948 and raised and left in 1966 for the USA. Well her brother, from a different mother, Samuel Sackey saw Jeanette’s FB page and made contact and posted that Zena was still alive! Now Jeanette is almost ready to leave California for Liberia.
Jeanette is keeping a journal, and I have hired, thanks to Rev. Brown the CEO of Church Aid Inc. of Monrovia, Liberia, Cyrus, a young college student, to video record a portion of Jeanette’s mother and daughter and family reunion, plus Jeanette and I are working with Rev. Brown to learn first hand about his philanthropic work in Liberia, because Jeanette and I are supporting Rev. Brown’s good works though my church, the Church of the Brethren.
Am I going to write a sequel to Driving the Birds? I’m not sure yet, however I’m trying to plan ahead for this possibility. For the moment, as writers do, I’m imaging working backwards from this reunion where Jeanette and Zena tell each other what has happened since 1977 when they lost contact: Jabonkah and Zena’s stories. What do you think?
Thanks to some awesome friends and lovers of Jabonkah’s memoir, Driving the Birds, we have raised $1,640 to offset the $2,400 airfare from the USA to Liberia, West Africa. Jeanette is so grateful to you all, as I am. Jeanette has her passport and started her horde of immunization shots last Monday. Rev. and Mrs. Brown are prepared to assist Jeanette as is, of course, Samuel and her Liberian family. Yes, we have a concern for Jeanette’s safety while she is in Liberia because she exposed the secrets of the Sande’s secret society in Driving the Birds.
The Sande protects its ancient rituals with the threats of dead and by calling on the sprits of the land to use its juju to punish, if not kill, those graduates who speak of the Sande’s secrets. In the Poro secret society, which is for Liberian boys, there is the Leopard Society that brings death to those who cross the Poro. Bodies have been discovered with the claw marks of the leopard, man made of course using leopard claws. The secret societies of Liberia are not a fiction, but they are very real and a powerful part of Liberian culture and history.
In Driving the Birds, Jeanette wanted to expose the Sande to help stop the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), and in her recent interview that is available on YouTube, Jeanette said that she can never go back to Liberia for fear of her safety. She said this about a month ago, before she knew Zena was alive!
Samuel, Jeanette’s brother, says that Liberian radio shows are just now talking about FGM and says that the subject is no longer taboo, however Rev. Brown advises us that FGM remains a very sensitive topic. Jeanette is not going to Liberia as an anti-FGM advocate but to see and love her mother and family.
(I must say that Rev. Brown’s works are not related to an anti-FGM advocacy, and I will not speak to his views about FGM because of the very sensitive nature of the FGM topic in Liberia. Jeanette and I donate $1.00 (about 25% of our net) for each copy of Driving the Birds that is sold online to the Church of the Brethren that has supported Church Aid Inc. in the past, again, neither the COB or CAI have an anti-FGM advocacy; this is solely Jeanette’s and my passion: to help stop FGM. But CAI is helping Liberians in many positive ways which Jeanette and I support.)
Jeanette and I were on Liberian radio last January when she discussed Driving the Birds and FGM. Last week, we received word that they want us back on the air, but their has been no follow up contact. We are not sure that we could accept an invitation to be on the Liberian radio until after Jeanette’s return.
Well, that is all for now. Post up any questions and/or comments.
Satta, Samuel Sackey’s sister, and Zena Sackey. June 2013