Some say those frozen for transit in package ships do not dream or know the passing of time. This, of course, is not entirely true. Our senses are faint, but not gone. We see not dreams but flashes. Brief images haunt the darkness. We know not where we go, only that we are transported far from anything or any place we once knew. Our homeland, so long in the distance behind us, fades even beyond memory. The traditions we held dear are forgotten, obviated by the journey.
We are the lost, robbed of soul and of self.
These flashes of a lush world, of grass and of jungle, of simplicity, are all that remain, chasing us across the void into diaspora. We emerge from our slumber into debts of servitude. Made slaves by an agreement we do not recall, but that our 'masters' now claim is an inviolate bond. Our memories, our names stripped away, we emerge into a world that holds us apart, that sees us as nothing but the other, as 'less than'.
Stumbling into a dissociative existence, where we recognize nothing of where we are yet remember less of where we came from, our wills are broken along with our backs. This new world yokes us, forces us to become the gears that keep it spinning, even as the thin-noses above us grow accustomed to living beyond the planet's means. We are born again into a world spread fine, teetering towards collapse.
They claim they saved us from barbaric worlds, yet build their lives atop our suffering, laughing when we demand our freedom, sneering when we claim that we too are human.
"Look at how you dress," Thin-noses chuckle, judging us by the poverty they clothed us in.
"Look at how you act," They smirk, when we mirror the violence they visited upon us.
"You can't even speak or write," They laugh, after stripping us of our old words and refusing to furnish us with their own.
The perception drains us—that we are hollow beasts of burden—bit by bit. We can see the lights in our eyes dim. Absorbing their belief, it slowly becomes truth.
But you can never extinguish the fire of the heart, not entirely. The embers of our old souls burn deep, screaming from down in the darkest pits: "This is not who you are. This is not what you are meant to be!"
And while our eyes may dim, they remain open, watching our opulent and foolish masters. While our backs are bowed, our hands busy themselves in the shadow. Hands that once built only for your world begin to build worlds of their own. While our memories fade, the flashes remain. We close our eyes and can smell the wind blowing from our remote, unspoiled lands.
At night, we start to share the same dream. Atop a mountain, an old-man with charcoal black skin stands watching the skies. Free of wrinkles, the only clue to his age is the old look in his eyes, the shock of white hair on his head. He stands on a world we remember only in slivers. He stretches his hands to the stars and begins to ascend.
"Mansa!" We chorus, "Mansa! Don't leave us!" In dreams, we speak our old tongue. A language we have forgotten, but only in dreams can we still understand.
He looks down at us, a speck in the sky. Somehow we can tell that he smiles, somehow we hear his words though he floats miles above, disappearing with the rising sun.
"Do not despair, children. I go now to explore the limits of this black ocean. I am called to the stars, as we all shall be someday. When you follow, when you are driven, when you forget, I will come to remind you."
Fading, fading, we hear his last words as we wake. He disappears into the vast gloom, grinning all the way:
"For I am Qu Bukari. King, Pioneer, Spirit of our people eternal. He who sows seeds of insurrection on distant worlds. Remember me… and rebel!"
With these dreams fresh in our minds, we beasts of burden, we others—though in the sun still we bow our heads—begin ever so slowly to imagine a reckoning.