Point Comfort, VA – Dr. Molefi K. Asante and his MKA Institute for Afrocentric Studies sponsored a trip to Point Comfort in Virginia Saturday April 26. Entitled 400 Witnesses for 400 Years the pilgrimage left from the institutes’ headquarters to travel by motor coach to Hampton Virginia’s Fort Monroe and Hampton University. At Fort Monroe the travelers assembled around a historic marker by the water designating that spot as the place kidnapped Africans were brought ashore four hundred years ago in August of 1619.
Around the marker the pilgrims took pictures, shot videos, poured libations and conducted a ritual washing ceremony for all the participants. Immediately following the rituals the pilgrims boarded the bus and traveled the short distance to Hampton University where they ate lunch and participated in a program in the McGrew conference center produced by Doctors Asante, Mazama, Smith and others.
The program included: a moment of silence, naming the “twenty odd” Africans, poetry readings, songs, story telling by Dr. Caroliese Reed of Keepers of the Culture, personal reflections by the travelers; those who came on the bus and those who drove on their own from outside of Philadelphia.
During the program at Hampton University Dr. Asante shared the history, “They said the ship was called The White Lion, it was also said it was registered in the Netherlands, it was also said the ship was actually manned by Spanish seamen and that the ship’s cargo had been stolen from the Portuguese. All Europe participated in the enslavement of African people. In the very beginning the Africans who landed at Point Comfort near Jamestown had came from all regions of Africa as far as we know because many of them had already stopped in the Caribbean before they came to Point Comfort.
Our history for four hundred years has been long, but it has also been a history of great victories. We have achieved many victories. One cannot look at science or philosophy or aeronautics, music, athletics or robotics where the descendants of those twenty Africans who are now forty million have not achieved phenomenal things and they have written their names in eternity.
We have come to this region of Virginia as pilgrims because we recognize one of the things we need to do always is be mindful there are those we do not want to disappoint. And that is the meaning of ritual always; is that we have ancestor and elders that there are ancestors we do not want to disappoint. Everyday when we wake up we should say there is an ancestor or an elder I do not want to disappoint, there is something I have to do and I must do it well so I do not intend to disappoint those ancestors and elders. This is our motivation and we must teach this to our children”
Dr. Asante pointed out the gifts and talents those Africans brought with them besides themselves and their skin. “Don’t let them tell you we brought nothing. We had our skin but there were so many things we had with us. We had religion we had philosophy, we had skills, we had hunting, fishing, growing rice we had been gold miners, copper minders, metallurgy, we were builders, we built stone structures in Southern Africa and West Africa, we were weavers. These things were not necessarily visible. Don’t let people tell you we came with nothing. We came brimming with ideas, we’ve lost a lot but we had much with us when they were brought off that ship.”
2019 marks the four hundredth anniversary of “twenty odd” kidnapped Africans were dropped off by the pirates manning the Dutch Man o’ War who stole the Africans from another ship to Point Comfort in exchange for food and supplies from the English colonists. Official ceremonies will take place all year long to honor the Africans and remember their arrival. Dr. Asante stated he wanted to visit Point Comfort to pay respect and honor the ancestors before the large crowds came during the summer months.
The weather was beautiful, the energy on the bus and camaraderie amongst the pilgrims was extremely positive. The travelers were an intergenerational group and we were blessed by the whole experience.