“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi is one of the best books I’ve read all year. Wow! This was a genealogy of sorts starting in the bush in Ghana as a struggle between the Ashanti people inland and the Fante people of the Gold Coast. It is the story of two sisters, born of one father and different mothers and how in the struggle, one is captured and sold into slavery to the British, and the other escapes and marries a British officer, Captain of the Castle in which her sister is imprisoned.
From that moment of time, the lives of these newly formed families go in dramatically different directions, one into slavery in the Deep South, and the other remaining in Ghana. Gyasi alternates between key children in the family line and how their life choices and the tragic circumstances that happen against them lead them down the path to their family’s situation today.
Some of the themes of “Homegoing” include matriarchy versus patriarchy, family, religion, slavery versus imprisonment, racism, discrimination, colorism, socioeconomic status, among others. It is both a tragic and inspirational story of the Ghanaian people and the global struggle of Western civilization and the African nations that both fought the conquering whites, and garnered their favor by selling their countrymen into slavery.
While Gyasi offers no direct means for righting the wrongs and injustices of the past, her story bringing light to the horrors of slavery and the following years of prejudice and inequality shines a light on the urgent issues that endure to this day as a legacy of that dark past. When we can honestly look at that history and then see the present-day in a new light because of it, we can begin to make steps in the right direction for the future.