Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Homegoing is a story that follows the descendants of two half-sisters Essi and Effia. The story follows them from the 18th century Ghana to present day. A book with many characters, one tends to forget them especially when character development is only limited to a chapter. You find that there is no closure to some of the happenings and the activities that happened to them. Literature wise, the book is an easy read, easy to follow only problem is there are many characters involved. Emotional wise the book is hard but a very important book in understanding the history of Ghana and United States of America.
Among the many characters that stood out for me was, Majorie probably because she was the last one to be featured and stood out in her curiosity in trying to understand her family history. Through the characters, the author was able to bring out some of the injustices that happened in history, from slave trade, the coming of missionaries, slavery in America, racism, civil right period, pre- independence in Ghana and so on and so forth.
Fante, Ewe, Ga and Asante are some of the ethnic groups mentioned in the book and it got me curious to study a little bit about each of these tribes. Twi is also a popular language among the people of Ghana which was mentioned on several occasions in the book
Overall this was a good read however the ending was underwhelming for me. I was hoping the other rock would be found. I was also not able to understand how Marcus and Marjorie knew they were family members considering the fact that Marcus’s side of the family had lost the family heirloom when the story was just beginning.
Quotes that stood out
“You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day” – Yaa Gyasi
“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”- Yaa Gyasi
“I tried to fight sleep, but I am human and sleep is not.”- Yaa Gyasi
Symbolism – And the nebulous, mysterious object of his anger was his mother, a woman whose face he could barely remember, but a face reflected in his own scar.
Crazy Woman – the fact that people called her crazy woman meant that in those days mental issues were not clearly understood and therefore not easily addressed.