Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TNC, The Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 8

So we learn in the closing chapter of Ta-Nehisi Coates's memoir The Beautiful Struggle that he's headed to Howard University or "the Mecca" as he refers to the college.

In the last chapter, Coates again devotes time to discussing his passion playing djembe. At one point during a class, he drifted off and thought of drumming:
I just placed my palms on my thighs in ready position, leaned back in my wooden chair until I was five hundred years away, until I stood in the court of Mansa Musa, in a kufi and a dark robe. My djembe hung from my shoulders, and when the Lion of Mali nodded, my hands fired and called across the Sahel (212).
Later, he describes arriving at a spring recital, where he "could hear the drums roaring, and young sisters singing in tongues that they did not understand. But that was always irrelevant. The whole point was to reach beyond the coherent and touch what we were, what we lost, when the jackboots of history pinned us down."

Before reading his memoir, I was already familiar with Coates's writings on hip hop, so I suspected that he would elaborate on his deep early interests in rap. But his passion for drumming was an unexpected, fascinating feature of the book. Playing djembe empowered the young Coates to connect to a distant past in Africa and participate in communal practices that nurtured his cultural well being.

Any other unexpected or notable features from the last chapter worth highlighting?

1 comment:

jeri Howitt said...

What an amazing idea for an amazing book. I'm surprised you didn't get more responses. Don't give up.