Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
This work of fiction novel, Yaa Gyasi uses the story of an African family for more than two hundred years to tell an interesting global history in addition to many interesting stories about the family. The book Homegoing offers us beautifully simple language insights and stories to the cultural and emotional world of the characters in the book and connecting that to the history of African slaves their trades with American history especially the African-American ones.
The word “homegoing” originally comes from an African-American belief that when an enslaved person died, the person spirit will travel back to Africa; which represents an Asante curse that will pull the person away from his family and the place he lived back to Africa. The other idea about the term “homegoing” is that sometimes you cannot see the evil in the world started as evil in your house or home.
The Author; Yaa Gyasi tried during this novel to deliver an idea that the problem with history is that only people who considered worthy, privilege and who can read, write and have the political and the economic means to have their stories and records saved and considered as part of the history and a history teller. We see this idea in the book through Yaw’s and Marcus’s chapters. Yaw is the son of Akua and her husband Asamoah. Yaw has a disfigured face when he was a baby when his mother Akua set a fire by mistake in their hut while they were sleeping. He is a history teacher at a Roman Catholic school in Takoradi city in Ghana. When he was teaching history to his class he said “history is storytelling” and his idea or meaning behind this is that if the person was not present during the time the story and only told of what had happened, the story and the events or facts in it may be altered by the person telling that story. Usually, only people who are very privileged and considered worthy can tell the history at a certain time like the history of Africa and other countries that been told and written by the colonizing power. Furthermore, in Marcus’s chapter as he was a Ph.D. history student at Stanford University. Marcus was the son of Sonny and his wife Amani Zulema, and he tried to study his family history and oppressions but he kind of felt that he couldn’t get enough information since he realized that he needs to dig deep into his family history and finds the roots of their struggles in the United States and all the problems that still affecting him and his friends in the current time. If we took Marcus and Yaw’s ideas and perspective about the history, we can understand the reason why Gyasi wrote Homegoing which is to allow the general public and the readers to grasp that the history of African and African-American have been told mainly from the western point of view and that it is missing a lots of stories from others individuals. Obroni is a Twi word that used for the foreigner, and it means ‘those who come from over the horizon.’ And it is usually translated into ‘white person.’ It mentioned in Homegoing when Akua was walking to the market, and usually, she would stop at the spot where the townsmen burned the white man. When a nameless wanderer man had found himself in the wrong town who was lying under the tree covering his face from the sun with a book, a three years old child named Kofi Poku, walks ahead of Akua, who was about to ask the man if he was lost or needed help, the child pointed his finger and shouted “Obroni!” The first time Akua heard this word was in kumas when she was only six years old and thought it only means “white man”. When Akua asked the fetish priest in her town who has been around for a long time since the white man first came to the Gold Coast. The Priest said that it began as two words “Abro ni” which means “wicked man” and in Akan, the wicked man is the one who harms. This shows that the changed of the word Obroni over time represents how culture can be affected by different generations, similar to the generations in the family tree that affected by the previous one even when they don’t know their parents.
Throughout Homegoing many of the characters suffered from physical scars and probably all suffered from psychological ones represents the traumas they and their families tolerated. Yaa Gyasi uses the physical scars to demonstrate the family connection and also the discrimination theme. Scars play a big factor in Ness’s chapter. When she was living on a farm when was young, she got married to Sam, a fellow slave on the farm who one-time rebels against his masters and for that Ness brutally whipped for his action. After that Sam helps Ness to heal and the scars the forms on her back mark their relationship. After a while, Sam and Ness have a child named Kojo and met a woman that will help them to run away from the farm. They get caught while running away, Ness got whipped worse than before and her husband Sam got hanged from a tree. At this point, Ness’s scars mark the end of the relationship and fail to have freedom. Also, Ness’s scars used against her as discrimination and almost made as a house slave which is a less physical job at a new plantation, but when the master of the plantation saw her scars, he said that she is too ugly to look at and that she must have been a bad slave to get these scars. This decision shows us the unfairness if the slavery system and how easy to use people’s physical appearance to discriminate against them when someone has power.