“Roots’’ ‘R’ Us Say The Europeans (Part Two)

President George Weah (left) aims to remove the constitutional clause that reserves Liberian citizenship and land ownership for only people of negro descent, while Dr. Carl Patrick Burrowes (right) aims to help Liberians understand their true identity through restorative history

With Khutzpah, (Impudence, and Balls) to Spare…Yes! He can! Oppong will make us citizens. It is our birth right. Africa b’long allor we!

A review of Carl Patrick Burrowes’ Between The Kola Forest And The Salty Sea


Half-a-century ago, ‘neath the African Sun,
A youth marveled at the twirls nature had spun:
Everywhere, activity blossomed, then broke
Yet, sadly, “no scribbling, no scripting, no stroke
Of a pen, from a trembling hand, brittle with cold
Now decrepit, from icing a story untold:
“How God stirred the dust and the Continent bore
Earth’s first human conscript, detailed to the fore
Past the ‘sea-of-oblivion’—manifesting “Creation!”
“From your loins,” the Creator discharge: “Procreation.”
“Civilize! Mother Nature, Moralize, Mother Earth!”
“Increase, nurture, modernize, ensuing new births.” 

(“Humanity’s First Birth” COPYRIGHT 2017-KNAB)

WHAT WE HAVE COVERED SO FAR: To give perspective (point of view, angle) to our review of Carl Patrick Burrowes’ book: Between the Gola Forest  & the Salty Sea, we took an excerpt from another portion of our discussion, to highlight a conflict, (show a problem) that two exceptional Liberians have with each other, even though they have never met, as far as we know: it started working itself out sometime after the political runoff, which Mr. Weah had won.  As he took over the presidency, he decided to ‘go for broke’ and settle the Liberian people’s ‘book’ gbinez, once and for all. So he took the Constitution to task: “Certain word in the document, he let it be known, are “racist,” he more or less pointed out, and should not be a part of a national Constitution,” he challenged. 


“Look at that kind of thing,” someone remarked siding with the new president. “The most important book in the country—the Constitution—and it turns out ‘odious,’ (repulsive, hateful).  Now, when the man says, ‘book nah goo,’ then they ready to turn it to something else.”  

Just around the same time, Carl Patrick Burrowes arrives, announcing: “the real and complete Liberian story. It inside my ‘parloh’ book,” we heard from Carl Burrowes. In his hand was the book he had just published. “Ain’t frohn no ‘Boe nah Goo’ Lie-berry. It frohn neh ‘Boe Goo’ Library,” a young lady volunteered,” setting the stage for the clash of two titans from two different Liberian worlds. Now, read on:   

“Needless to say, we are banging our heads against each other over the Liberian Story! It is an ongoing story—indeed, a still-developing story; and it is about Liberia, we must not forget.  Unexpectedly, but understandably, the story has thrown President Oppong Weah and Dr. Carl Patrick Burrowes against each other, here in Monrovia, for a showdown: but this confrontation is more than a war-of-words; it has become a contest for the hearts and minds of the Liberian people, in a disagreement over what makes them Liberians: who they are, what stem do they come from, where are they going, how do they plan to get there, what do they want, and why?

Informing a group of fans about the book under discussion, Dr. Burrowes explained that one of the reasons the book had been written, was to expose Liberians to their history and culture: “The story inside mah “parloh” book, he agreed: the true story about this country, and how it got to where this people find themselves today. ” Where they are, is the result of having moved about, (where they came from and where and how they settled and made life, (geography) as well as what they did during those times and what they achieved, (their pursuit of happiness, (earning income) with their lives. 

Was it so obvious to the young lady, that Burrowes as well, had made his rounds, done his research, and had read everything he needed to read, to put his book together? Yes—Burrowes is a product of this society and, it was no surprise that he would have passed this way, to better understand and grasp what his people not only needed, but what they wanted, as well. In passing Dr. Burrowes would also find time to interact with his people, “giving his shirt” when the time came, for the peace, progress and prosperity, of his nation and people!”

Now, let’s return to that 15th century search for gold by our European gold-diggers that had taken a twist or turn, known as “serendipity:” (“the knack or talent of making fortunate discoveries, by accident”). What that fortuitous (unintended, accidental) finding did, was set our 15th century gold-seekers up in business that had nothing to do with “pieces of eight,” (Spanish silver coins) reminiscent of  Treasure Island, or The Spanish Main, of days gone by. For now, though, they were trapped in a trade that no matter how brisk, would take years for malagueta spice, iron, salt and a few other resources, to bring them quick money or hit-and-run  ‘booty’ from fast jobs that had taught them to make hasty escapes, as though they had the devil on their heels.  

So, exactly what were the gold-diggers supposed to think—or do, with these mementos from this strange world they now found themselves almost marooned (stranded) on? One minute they were searching for gold, and the next minute, they were caught up in a different line of business that was worth neither their time nor effort. Forget about sending urgent, exciting messages back to their king—or, to the business people who had financed their trip, in search of gold. They were in no hurry to begin that. These adventurers were still far away from that astonishing cache (hoard, stock-pile) in gold bullions, (bars) that they had come looking for. But it was good for them, that they decided to continue their operation on a one-day-at-a-time basis—and soon, we will come to see why!   

Despite the malagueta spice, iron, salt, etc., ‘hot-cake’ effect on a European market, starved for such exotic (foreign, striking) commodities—it would take a while for the gold-diggers’ serendipity, (again: the pleasant, but unexpected discovery of one thing, while hunting for another) to kick in. Generating a cash-flow from what they had to rush and get started, was going to take some time—time that would teach them a valuable lesson—their first, since their arrival on the continent! 

“Let down your buckets where you are;” they remembered their mamas telling them years before. If only they had done that while at sea—boiling the sea-water they pulled up from the ocean below; they would have found salt—something else they later could claim they had “discovered,” ahead of the African Race they so begrudged, (resented, envied).   What in the world did Africans possess that others just had to have? Everything, it seemed, including their minds, bodies and souls!   

The gold-diggers’ first order of duty, then, had to be: Proceed with equanimity, (level headedness, self-control); in other words, they had not hit ‘pay dirt’ (struck gold, or other valuable metals, from dirt, gravel or ore) yet, and had no reason to pretend that they had. On the other hand it was pointless behaving as losers, only because no gold was yet in sight—not-just-yet!  

Though, nothing they put their hands on had glittered, ‘pleasant’ surprises still awaited them; maybe, they needed to be struck between the eyes, first!  But that’s when serendipity stepped in, again! After a better-organized search, the locales coughed up another supply that also would be fought over when they were dropped on the market in Europe. 

This new inventory included sugar, tobacco, ivory and a few other valuable minerals, according some writers. Those would stir additional shopper-interest, further hyping a now-intrigued, (curious, captivated) European flea market. It might help their upper-class maidens let go of residual pangs from a gilded (made or painted golden) period in their kingdom’s inglorious past, from which they still smarted (felt pain, emotional distress).

Sadly, it was still, not the “discovery” of an era—that “in-the-fullness-of-time,” would come to include the promised, endless gold reserve that our European gold-diggers had grown sick of waiting for? The Europeans had been “smelling gold,” from the onset (the first minute) they set foot on African soil! They just hadn’t recognized it.

For the people of the West African sub-region, that day’s arrival would make a difference for them, as well: And it would begin with Pedro de Cintra and his gold-seeking crew whose eyes betrayed them fixated (consumed, possessed) on the gold they had begun to feast on, long before they began sailing down the Atlantic Ocean, away from Portugal, toward the African sub-region.   

Europeans are recorded and, by some, credited, with being the first who began taking to ships, away from the home-front, in a serious bid to find out what was going on in the world around them. Given today’s state-of–the-art technology, it is difficult to imagine that any generation missed out on the lore (knowledge, experience) that the ancient  adventures that the Phoenicians, Vikings, and other sea-farers of old orchestrated, (coordinated, planned) and carried out, in their heyday, (prime, glory days). Our 15th century gold-diggers might not have covered as many nautical miles as those pioneers, but the scope of the adventures and what they proceeded to negotiate, after penetrating (storming, raiding)  the Continent, was of such epic proportion, (so big and far reaching) they still amaze or confuse people of today, with weak or small minds. (PART III CONTINUES ON FRIDAY)


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