Sorting upon the return home…Soyinka on my mind

I have returned from a journey. This journey has moved me further along my journey.

Winter Woods. Then creeks and ponds. Rolling Illinois borderlands. More winter wood flash past. Small Illinois towns where one could stop awhile and spend time in geneological research.


I could say I got lost. I could say I missed the turn. Rather, I took a longer way home. I took the scenic route. This has ever been my way, never having quite mastered that geometric principle that “a staight line is the shortest distance between two points,” or perhaps never caring for the shortest distance. Is this said straight line the premiere way to travel, truly?

Sankofa Adinkra Symbol, “Return and Fetch It”
Ghanaian Adinkra Symbol, Sankofa: Return and Fetch It

Fate’s had ever points me to the circuitous route and ever and ever, this is the route I will take, however unbidden it seems.

“The longest way round is the sweetest way home” runs a favorite line of mine in an old song my father and I sing together. The circuitous route is the route of the poet. The language of poetry with its layers and emphasis on language itself is a route laid out on the bed of a dry river trusting that the reader will bring rain.

Yesterday I arrived at the Grandel Theatre moments before Soyinka did to savor his last Midwest appearance before heading for the airport. In days to come I’ll be continuing to post on the Soyinka Symposium and on his conversation there.

Soyinka in St. Louis

Today I am sorting papers from 1973 when I was leaving Botswana for the first time. I am sorting papers from the three journeys my parents took to Africa between 1972 to 1977 to visit me in both Ghana and Botswana. I am sorting my mother’s journeys from my own journey. Yes, the winding roads are the ones that take us home.

And now I start reading Soyinka’s “You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir” with his beautiful and heartful renditions of leave-taking and homecoming.

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