If you took a trip back to slavery plantation life, would you be a changed person when you returned to your life today? Would you be able to survive the harsh realities of existing as a person with no liberties to manifest your soul? Who is Sambo? by Stephen Mackey is a book on lessons that answer these very questions. The lessons that make one remember a time past when life for the African enslaved in America experienced a life of misery and of hope. This is a typical story of time travel from the 20th century to the 19th century in a small metropolis in Texas of a group of seven African Americans from all walks of life. The cultural revolutionary, the corporate climb the ladder brother, the “I got mine” independent women, the celebrity basketball player, a homey in the rap game, the prosperity preaching minister and a single mom doing whatever she “gotta” do in the music scene to feed her two babies all involuntarily find themselves dressed in rags, living in wood shacks and talking like a slave! They are transported back to slavery time, literally in their ancestors shoes on a plantation of a well to do family whose descendants chose to hide their history of slave ownership. Still in the 20th century mind frame, this group has to figure out a way to survive the everyday life as a slave with a big grizzly overseer and the perverted lifestyle of the slave owners. And you know somebody got to get whipped.
The style of writing is simplistic in that it would make a great read for those who are new to learning about slavery or as an introduction to honoring lessons from the ancestors through the connection everyone has to their past life times. The author Stephen Mackey interweaves an array of cultural norms that when recognized brings a smile to the heart and the added humor blends well with the grim reality of a life past that still has its effects in the present.
This book would set well in the minds of young readers. It has some bling aspects of celebrity life that many look up to now and it opens the mind to a reality of a past and future decisions that they too one day will have to face in their own time when they make the connection to their past. The transitions are slow and typical however they lead to moments of intrigue. There are also some undeveloped moments in the writing that could have added so much more to the text. Such as the story of the one European character that was transported back with the group and what the characters experienced individually as they went there separate ways on the plantation going about their “normal” life.
As a first time self published piece, Who Is Sambo, has the potential to raise a much needed awareness of how embracing the lessons of the ancestors and knowing their stories can help us today to build good character among ourselves based on a time in our history where our good character and care for each other was all Africans enslaved in America had to survive life.
Dr. Akua Gray
December 1, 2013Houston, Texas