Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Declaration of Independence © Ngozi Romain-Johnson

Ngozi is my top student, and my daughter, in my "I LOVE WRITING 101" class. Our last class assignment was to first, read the Haitian Declaration of Independence written by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Yes, the assignment was to really read it and to feel the power, sincerity, purpose and significance of that declaration. The second part of the assignment was to write her own Declaration of Independence and to liberally use Dessalines words to inspire her own meditation. Yes, to seriously consider what in her life might be keeping her from serving freedom and from sustaining the liberty that our foremothers and forefathers of AYITI lived to die for, for us. These are her words:

My Declaration of Independence © Ngozi Romain-Johnson

On this day, April 22, 2010, I, Ngozika Abena Chizoba Romain-Johnson, declare myself a liberated individual.

On this day, I declare myself a free mind, body and soul. This document is a declaration of my release from mental and spiritual captivity, abolishing all connections and relations to my previous state of atrophy. This document is a declaration of my rights, a proclamation of my beliefs and my dreams.

On this day, I use my voice and my power as a writer, an innovator, an artist, a seeker of justice and truth, a lover of laughter and wisdom – my voice as a proud African Haitian-American woman. This voice has not been fully discovered; nevertheless, my voice will never be silenced again. From this day forth, my power is never to be underestimated, tamed, controlled, maimed, or trifled with. This declaration is a testament to all that I can and will accomplish in my future, and no other soul, however uninformed of my declaration, is going to intervene in my destiny.

This day marks the point of no return. Today is the day that will alter the course of my life forever, and catapult my soul into another, more powerful realm of self-actualization. No matter the physical shackles that may contain me in my years to come, this declaration will reign supreme. By no means shall my mind, my most powerful tool, be allowed to fall prey to the illness of self-inflicted ignorance. This declaration also stands as a vow to develop and maintain my awareness, and to support my community in doing the same.

At this time in my life, this declaration is simply crucial. In moving forward in pursuit of my dreams and my destiny, I must first confront and release all that stands in my way. Before I can truly move forward, I must first address what is holding me back. Oftentimes, it is my own inhibitions straining my progress as an individual. This document is significant because my freedom is non- negotiable. Although the days of chattel slavery have passed, new forms of enslavement have risen. As a form of resistance, transforming verbal power into the written word will aid my attempts to overcome the challenges in my future.


Self Portrait © Ngozi Romain-Johnson