Tuesday, Mar. 12 2013 4:02PM
Sharing stories of black history
By Russ Pulley
Emmanuel Ngomsi, in his youth, heard many tales from elders in his coastal homeland of Cameroon in Africa.
Now a Lee’s Summit resident, and chairman of the Lee’s Summit Human Relations Commission, Ngomsi will share those stories and facts he’s learned during years of research this week.
“Looking back, those stories did not impress me, they were just stories old people were saying, they did not mean a lot to me until I moved to the United States.” Ngomsi said.
But living here, he said, he realized there was being little told about captures and of slavery as it was practiced on African soil.
He’ll share what he has experienced and learned in a presentation offered by the Human Relations Commission called: Touching our Past, Understanding our Presesnt and Developing Our Future.
The Black History presentation will be held 6 p.m. March 15 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 220 SE Green St.
Ngomsi said this is the first several other events the commission is working on for this year, expanding its activities beyond the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration.
He said he heard many anecdotes, such as how people would flee to the forest to avoid capture because Europeans engaged in the slave trade were afraid of the diseases and animals there.
“If you want to hide from a white man, just find a big tree,” was the saying, Ngomsi said.
He said often the Europeans involved in the slave trade depended on Africans to capture other Africans, selling them into slavery for rum, or mirrors or weapons. They were then sold in the Americas.
He said he learned that in the nation of Ghana the same word for dying was used for going overseas.
“Why? Because slaves never came back,” Ngomsi said.
His talk will include photographs of the House of Slaves on Gorre Island, off the coast of Senegal and artifacts. He’ll talk about culture brought to the Americas by the abducted people.
“I’m talking about things I heard and witnessed and saw, like Goree Island,” Ngomsi said. “We’re trying to really inform the city on culture.”