Sojourner’s Truth

He said he’d set me free in a year if I worked hard. I did my best, I was so hopeful that me and my family would have a better future. When the time came, I reminded him of his promise. But the man had changed his mind. Back then I didn’t know that slavery was due to be abolished in New York when that time was up. Really he had no choice. 

Now it had been postponed and he, my slave master, had no intentions of letting us go when it was unnecessary. He was a cruel and self-centred man.  I remember the day I heard that news. The anger, disappointment and frustration that had been growing in me for so long reached its climax. I took my daughter and fled that place forever. 

We sought refuge with a family who abhorred slavery, me and my daughter were safe with them. Especially when they bought us for twenty dollars and gave us our freedoms. Of course I was happy, but I couldn’t help thinking of my fellow slaves, my many children, all of whom I knew were still toiling in the fields and bearing the lashes of the all too frequent whip. 

Slavery was abolished in our home state of New York soon after, to my absolute joy and relief. But when I tried to reunite with my son, I found out that he had been sold to someone in Alabama. That was against the law. Again, I felt that same strength inside me, fuelled by my grief and outrage. 

I was black and I was a woman, even though I was free, my rights were still little or nothing. What chance did I have of getting my son back? I didn’t know, but I had to try. I went to court, believe it or not. And I stood, in front of a crowd of all white men, and I stated my case. I was brave and it paid off. I won and my son came home to me. 

You may think I would be content with that, but no. I couldn’t bear the thought of all those slaves who were still under the power of their mean and heartless masters. The thought of the sickening stench of sweat and blood that I could still smell when I lay awake at night. When I closed my eyes I could see the straining muscles and pained expressions, hear the desperate cries resounding in my ears.

I didn’t know what I could do, but I knew that I had to do something. One day I just left my home and began walking. I changed my name to Sojourner Truth. A sojourner is a person who stays in one place for a short time, before moving on. A journeyer, a wanderer, a traveller.  I was searching for the truth. I was open, I learned as I went. I spoke, but most importantly, I listened. 

I walked the length and breadth of America, telling people about the plight of us slaves, about how skin colour doesn’t matter, how we feel things the same as anyone else, we are smart and brave and loving and loyal too. I told them about equality between humans, black and white, male and female. 

People got to hear of me I guess. I was known throughout the nation as a civil rights activist. I never really set out to be one, I was just a woman with faith and a message to share with others. I was some’s heroine and other’s enemy. But I didn’t care, I knew what I believed and I stood up for it.

I dedicated my life to the abolition of slavery in the U.S. Met Abraham Lincoln and told him the story of my life, played a part in recruiting troops to fight in the civil war to free my brothers and sisters who still suffered at the hands of their masters. I did everything in my power to wipe slavery off the earth.

That was the true story (retold by me) of a black slave woman named Isabella Baumfree, who became Sojourner Truth, a celebrated and admired civil rights activist, author of the famous and emotive speech ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’ which you can watch below.

What do you think Sojourner would think of the world how it is today? Does she inspire you like she inspires me? What emotions does the video provoke in you? Do you have any questions? Please let me know how you feel about this post as I really value all your opinions and ideas.  Comment discussions always welcome! 

 

 

 

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Sunrise In The Middle East

I wrote this story about girl’s rights in the Middle East. Hope you enjoy, but any constructive criticism is welcome! I have entered this short story into the Wicked Young Writer’s Awards so wish me luck!

Sunrise In The Middle East

“Greetings People. It’s me, Sunrise, and I’m back with the latest progress on the Girl’s Rights In The Middle East front. As you know…..”

I pause to blow away some of the dust that’s trapped in the gaps between the letters on my keyboard. I smile as the tiny particles are momentarily suspended in a ray of sunlight that’s disturbing my writing session, in a good way. I cup my hands around it and watch them glow with golden light. It reminds me of myself.

“On the morning of your birth, the sun seemed larger than ever before.” my Mother’s sweet, quiet voice echoes in my ears. “ I saw it coming up on the horizon, huge and round and blood-red. It spread its life-giving light all over the earth and eventually it reached you. It seeped in through my window and into the shadowy room. Then it touched your head and you awoke. So I named you Sunrise and hoped you’d be full of life, laughter and most of all, light.”

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I sigh as I pull off a floral-printed headscarf and a cascade of knotty, tangled brown hair tumbles down my back. My amber streaked, hazel eyes that are usually full of humour and curiosity sparkle as my big flashing smile makes an appearance on my smooth olive-skinned face.

I sit back down to read my emails and idly click the first one that pops up.

Dear Sunrise

My name is Aaminah and I am 11 years old. I wanted to tell you how much you inspire me and how, because of you, I go to school and learn how to write beautifully, like you do. Thank you.

You are the Middle East’s best female activist, that is what we say at my school. All the girls are pleased that you spoke up for their education so I write to you on their behalf too.

You are very brave and you have said what our people have all been too scared to say.

Thank you again and may you be blessed.

Every time a child sends me an email like this is warms my heart so much that I click Reply immediately and begin to type.

Dearest Aaminah

I am so glad that you are able to go to school now, I am certain that one day you will be an amazing writer. It was not just me who helped you, there are many girls like myself campaigning for education. When you are a little older perhaps you will be one of them. Perhaps we will even meet one day. I would like that. Say hi to your classmates for me!

Keep safe and may you also be blessed.

Sunrise

I hover over the send button and press it down. I imagine her delight as she reads my message of hope and shows it to her friends. It makes this risky and sometimes dangerous role that I have taken on all worth it. With a contented smile on my playing at my lips, I prepare to read the next piece of mail.

Sunrise Abdullah

This is a warning. Stop your campaigning or you will suffer the consequences. What you are doing is forbidden. We will stop you because you are a disgrace to us all. How could you abandon our ancient ways for the ways of the West? Empowering women is wrong.

I sit back, my face shocked and expressionless, and stare at the screen. I take a deep breath and scroll down to see the sender. Nothing. Email address? Security protected. “Arrghhhh!” my mood changes to angry and confused.

How can people say that? How can they not see that all people should be equal? Education is a chance that all people should have. A chance to escape poverty and oppression. When you’re educated it makes it easier to change the world. And believe me, there are a lot of things that need changing. In my frenzy of mad and blind rage, I hit Reply once again.

To Whom It May Concern

You are wrong.  A rule might be ancient, but that doesn’t make it right. If you truly believe that empowering women is wrong then tell me why. Now. I demand an answer. Because I am, like you, passionate. I won’t give up without a fight. I don’t care for your threats and promises, I am a peace-maker and I make peace through education.

Sunrise Abdullah

Writer and Girl’s Rights Activist

 

 

#CookForSyria

I would like to introduce #CookForSyria.  This amazing idea was created by UNICEF ( an organisation that helps children in need all over the world ), Clerkenwell Boy ( an award-winning food instagrammer ), Serena Guen ( publisher, businesswoman and philanthropist )  and a few top chefs, as a way to fight the terrible humanitarian crisis in Syria.

#CookForSyria is a recipe book full of traditional and modern delicious Syrian, Middle Eastern food. Each recipe is donated by world-class chefs who want to make a difference! Any profits made on the sales of this incredible book are donated to aid the people of Syria affected by the tragic events.

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Food is about sharing and hospitality, we may only have a little for ourselves, but we will give some to you because we are all hungry. Food can form friendships and relationships and is an integral part of a community.  This book aims to capture that and bottle it, to use it to work towards peace.

I have already made four recipes out of his book and I’ve only had it a week and a half! They are so good! But the best one had to be this one:

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Syrian Onion and Parsley Meatballs on Spicy Cous Cous with Roasted Butternut Squash and a Tahini Yoghurt Sauce. 

It was seriously nice. Here’s the recipe for the meatballs, the sauce and the topping if you’d like to have a go:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 kg of minced beef

1 large onion

a bunch of parsley

1 butternut squash

For The Sauce

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp water

juice of one lemon

1 clove of garlic

For The Topping

Handful of pine nuts

Knob of butter

 

Method:

Cut the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven until tender. 

Very finely chop the onion and parsley. Put both in a bowl with the mince and season. Mix together with your hands. Form into meatballs the size of ping pong balls and roast in the oven at 180C/356F for 10 minutes. 

Mix the tahini, yoghurt, lemon, water and finely chopped garlic together with some salt until it forms a smooth, runny consistency. If too thick, add a little drop of water. 

Melt some butter in a pan and toast some pine nuts.  

Layer the meatballs and butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with the sauce and then the pine nut topping.

Serve hot with cous cous, flatbreads, pittas or salad and enjoy……….! 

I encourage you to buy this book, not only shall I tempt you with tales of pomegranate, spices, olives, pistachios, figs, bread, houmous and more, it is also working to change the world and to raise awareness of these people’s plight.

Let’s #CookForSyria to show we care!

 

Sita Brahmachari’s Beautiful Books

 

I love to write, and to use words to weave a web of stories that reveal facts about our world and about what we can do to change it, but I also love to read. I always have. One of my favourite authors is Sita Brahmachari. She writes about real issues and real life whilst still managing to capture a beautiful novel on the paper.

Two of her books are written in diary form, from the point of view of a young girl from London called Mira Levenson. The first, Artichoke Hearts, is about Mira’s Nana, who is an activist and an artist, but is dying of cancer. It is heart-wrenchingly sad, but messages of hope and love are riddled through it and they lift it up and make it one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sita, the author, also talks about bullying and also about Mira’s relationship with a boy in her class who survived the Rwandan Genocide. I learned so much and it really inspired me to try even harder to make a difference.

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The second is called Jasmine Skies and Mira is older in this book. She is of Indian heritage so she decides to fly half way across the world to discover the culture and customs of the country she knows so little about. She is not prepared for the huge amount of poverty, inequality and human rights abuses she will witness, working at her Aunt’s refuge for street kids she realises what she wants to do with her life. This is a quote from the book:

I’ve seen real poverty and homelessness in London, but it’s not on the same scale. When you see it in pictures you don’t appreciate how extreme the difference between rich and poor can be, though they’re living side by side. I feel a heaviness in my gut that I can’t seem to shake off. Every day here someone is tapping on my conscience and saying “Mira Levenson, this is not fair. What are you going to do about it?” and the truth is I don’t know.

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The last book that I have read is Red Leaves, which I was given for my thirteenth birthday just over a week ago. It is a really intriguing and amazing book. It opened my eyes to so much. Homelessness, war, refugees, divorce, religion, journalism, kids who live in care.
Aisha sought refuge in London from war-torn Somalia when she was ten, traumatised and unable to speak, she was alone in the world and missing her family. Now she’s twelve and she lives with her foster carer. She is starting to feel safe and loved again when her carer suggests that she is adopted by a Somalian family. She feels betrayed and runs away to a nearby wood.
Zak is angry and sad and confused. His parents are divorced, his brother won’t speak to him, his Mother is a journalist in conflict zones. When she goes missing, it’s the final straw. He becomes tangled up in a mess of the past and present. Somehow he stumbles into the wood were Aisha is sheltering.
Iona lives on the streets, with her dog. She’s rude and sarcastic and tough, but underneath she’s hurt. She lies about her age and won’t accept help, but she was the victim of a broken family. She too seeks safety and security in the woods.
Elder is seen as a dotty old homeless woman, a free spirit. But she has a story too. She’s not just crazy. She cares about the children and watches over them as they begin to form friendships, forgive and forget, learn about each other.
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I would recommend any of Sita’s books. Not only do they help you understand the world, they fill you with a desire to make it a better place.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you’d like to! Has there been a book that you’ve read that has really inspired you? If so, why?