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by Maya Angelou

Pub Date: April 8th, 1986
ISBN: 067973404X
Publisher: Random House

The hauntingly evocative and poetic continuation of the autobiography that began with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970). We are now in the early 1960's with Angelouson a brief stopover in Accra to enroll her 17-year-old son in the University of Ghana. Guy, however, is nearly killed in a ear accident, and Angelou must give up plans to work for the US Information Agency in Liberia. She gets a job at the university, writes articles for a local newspaper and becomes part of the black American expatriate community. To get close to her motherland, the great mysterious continent of her ancestors, Angelou learns to speak Fanti, dresses Ghanian style and gradually makes African friends. There is Comfort, the lusty, laughing young woman who styles her hair, and who later dies of a curse put on her by a rival for a man's heart. There is Kojo, the charming "small boy" who does errands about the house she shares with two other expatriates. One day his entire family travels from a distant village laden with gifts of food--their thanks to her for teaching Kojo "Brioni (white) ways of thinking." The masterful Sheikhali wants to make Angelou his number two wife and cannot understand why her father does not come from America to negotiate the marriage. She also entertains numerous visitors from abroad, among them Malcolm X who, at book's end, has persuaded her to return home to work for the Organization of African-American Unity. Before leaving, however, she visits the port of Keta, where various women mistake her for a relative or an acquaintance. She realizes that the people bear a strong resemblance to her mother's family and--learning that the town was once a center of the slave trade--she thinks, "I had not consciously come to Ghana to find the roots of my beginnings, but I had accidentally tripped over them or fallen upon them in my everyday life. And here in my last days in Africa, descendants of a pillaged past saw their history in my face and heard their ancestors speak through my voice." In sum, the human heart of Africa reaching out to one of its displaced children, deepening that child's understanding of herself and her heritage.