Updated: Mar 2, 2022
My African Brother’s Gift of Creation and Life
By: Hermence Matsotsa, MPH
“Seriously God!”, I screamed from the depths of my soul, “You let crack heads have babies and you can’t give me one!” Yup, I said it, that was in 2014 as I laid in my own pool of blood holding the remanence of my first child in my hands. In fact, I have said and screamed worse to God, the Universe, and my body since then for what I felt has been the pure betrayal and pain they together have inflicted on me. Yes, five times now, I have unapologetically gone stir crazy on them for breaking my heart, body, mind, and spirit. Am I alone? Can you blame me? Damn, I know I am not the only Sister who has felt this way and screamed to the heavens above for answers as the one thing they wanted so deeply was expelled from their body in a horrific and bloody wave of pain and shattered motherhood dreams. No, I am not.
So, a year after I let my “Crack heads! What the hell God, how could you be so cruel?” scream out, I traveled to Guinea West Africa on an Ebola Response Assignment where I met a happy and outright loving Brother who was puzzled that I would leave my husband and “children” to come to his country and put myself in danger and possibly get sick. “You shouldn’t be here. You need to be with your husband and children.” he said in that West African French I so love to hear. “I don’t have a child.”, I expressed with shame, head bowed, fighting off hot tears. “My doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to have children.” To my surprise he let out a big belly laugh that not only startled me but sent vibrations straight to my empty womb. Is this brother really laughing at me? Before I could muster up the words in French to let him have it, he grabbed my hand.
“Sister, you’re Black and African right? Then you can have children! Your doctors in America don’t know what we know here in Guinea, in Africa. My wife started slow and now she has seven kids. We made it happen. I will do it for you, but you have to be ready and believe!”
Yes, I am a Black and African too. And God knows, I was ready. The believe part on the other hand was much harder, and this happy and concerned Brother was not going to give me another second to doubt what he knew was true. I was meant to be a mother. Scratch that, I was meant to birth a living child into this world with his help. Three days later he brought me two freshly carved, oiled, and scented Nimba (or Dumba) wood sculptures and placed them in my hands. I had seen these before. In fact, they were all over the country. These sculptures could be found in the hotels, restaurants, worn as adornments, and were depicted on the country’s currency. I didn’t get it. How were these going to help me conceive and give birth to my first child? He and all the other men and women selling their products stopped to catch my reaction and it was clear they could see the bewilderment and disappointment on my face. Then an older woman, sitting to the left of us at a distance, screamed out “Muhammed, leave her alone. she doesn’t believe.” “No, he yelled back. Our Little Sister does. She just doesn’t know it. She just needs to be reminded of the African energy needed to flow in her. She still has America in her, that’s all.”
Once again, he grabbed my hand, pulled me into his shop, took out a wooden stool out and told me to sit. “My Sister, these are from my village. They will help you bring your child into your womb and out of your body alive, breathing. I had a healer make it just for you and your husband. Rub it, smell it, breathe it in. Please believe in it.” As he spoke my glassy watery eyes scanned over the ebony and caramel brown sculptures with cantilevered large noses, large pairs of breasts laying perfectly over a protruding belly standing on four legs. I inhaled their aroma and let my fingers glide over their smooth wooden bodies. “I must believe”, I repeated to myself until the words came out of my mouth and into the air. “I believe you Muhammed. Thank you!” Upon, hearing this, Muhammed happily gave me instructions as to how It was all going to happen. He warned me that once the spirit of my child was in me, I would need to be with my husband and my body would know what to do. Lastly, if I was to have a boy, he would be honored to share his name with him.
Two weeks later, I became severely ill. I was throwing up, had body aches, night sweats, loss of and change in appetite. All I wanted to eat was only certain African foods like yams, uGu leaves, and peanut sauce drenched in palm oil. To all around me, short of the bleeding from my nose, eyes, or mouth, I had all the signs of Ebola, therefore I needed to be medivacked home immediately. I on the other hand, was not ready to leave without completing my assignment. Crazier still was the fact that I started to feel a constant bright presence and spirit around me. So much so that I started speaking out loud to it. With every weird symptom my body and soul were experiencing, my faith in me grew. Although physically weak, I could feel the African energy Muhammed spoke of run through my body and in my womb. Was I pregnant? How could I be? I had not been with my husband for two months and both pregnancy tests and the unwelcomed period I was currently having clearly said “No. You are NOT Pregnant!” So, what on earth was happening to my body?
Then, one early morning, as I raised up, my face flushed from expelling my breakfast in the toilet, the answer hit me. At that moment, I felt a spirit around me and felt Muhammed’s joy and realized the last time I had spoken to him was when he had gifted me the two Nimba sculptures. If anyone knew or was responsible for my physical and psychological state it was him. So, I quickly cleaned myself up, got dressed and mustered all the energy I had to run out of the hotel and to the souvenir market where Muhammed worked.
Muhammed saw me from a distance and came right out to greet me! Reaching for my hand, he said, “My Sister! Good to see you. Why are you still here in Guinea? I thought you had already gone back to your husband to make your baby.”
“Oh, Muhammed, I see now. You’re the reason I am sick. The sculptures you gave me, I believe are making me sick, instead of healing me. I can’t work anymore and that’s not good. I came here to help people with Ebola, and now I’m sick and of no use to anyone.”
Muhammed squeezed my hand tightly, looked at me, the way a big brother looks at his sister when he knows it’s time for her to hear the truth only, he can give. He then took a deep breath. “My Sister, the Guinian people will be alright. You have already done enough. It is your turn to heal and receive. Go give birth. This is why you came here, to Africa. To Guinea. To me your brother. You are hearing your Baby’s voice, right? That means it is time to go to your husband, my brother-in-law and make your baby. He is waiting.”
Four days after receiving Muhammed’s blessing and assurance that my work in Guinea was done and more important work of healing and creation was needed, I boarded a 15-hour flight back home to find my partner, Anthony ready to love, take care of me, embrace, and even more so, make love to me. The day I landed back home, I unpacked nothing but my gently wrapped Nimba fertility sculptures and held tight to an unshakable belief in my heart coupled with the African energy which ran through my veins and into my womb. Unbeknownst to Anthony, as I took his hands and had them rub the Nimba sculptures and then I strategically placed them on our nightstand like Muhammed had instructed me to do, he was part of a spiritually organized Guinean fertility plot. We were going to conceive a baby that I would give birth to and bring life into our lives.
After three negative pregnancy tests and a doctor who suggested the feelings and “phantom” symptoms I was experiencing was due to the grief of having lost my first child, my brother Muhammed was one hundred percent right! Anthony and I did conceive our baby girl Soleil that day. Sadly, it took three months, Anthony dreaming of a beautiful girl smothering him with kisses, and me insisting that I was not delusional and wanted an ultrasound for us to be believed and to finally see the beautiful gift Muhammed had helped give us. My doctor was shocked, and my OBGYN had never seen such a case. How could that be possible that the tests did not pick up my hCG levels indicating early pregnancy? Why did I still have my menstrual cycle, two months after conception? My body could not answer their questions, nor did I care to help them figure it out. All I knew was I believed, and I was now halfway to bringing life into the world and with the African energy that was helping to pump life into my womb, the last thing I needed was to allow the negative American medical science energy often projected on Black women to penetrate my soul and body.
My pregnancy was nothing I expected but everything it needed to be to deepen my love for self, partner, and child. Together with my mother’s guidance and Muhammed’s blessings from across the Atlantic Ocean we overcame the difficulties, insecurities, emotional and physical pain associated with black maternal health. More importantly, we trusted in the African energy that flowed through our core and beings. We were connected to the source of all creation. Even when my daughter decided that nine months was too long to wait to make her appearance, we believed in the African energy that flowed through her tiny lungs as she used her hands to remove the oxygen tubes from her nose while in the NICU and screamed and demanded she be sent home. The day I finally held my baby girl, I whispered softly in her ear, “Baby, thank you for choosing me. You are wanted. You are blessed. You are loved.” At that moment, she looked deep into my soul, raised her small hand, reached for my finger, and squeezed it with a grip so strong that reassured me that without a doubt she was the spirit that spoke to me in Guinea. She was who I have been waiting for. Who Muhammed, my brother knew I would bring into this world if I only I believed and allowed the energy of Africa to flow through me.
Since, the birth of my daughter, six years ago, I have had 4 miscarriages. Four souls that were conceived in my womb but were released in excruciating pain from my body and soul. As I now mourn the recent loss of another child and 5th miscarriage, I remember what is currently missing in me. Missing in my woman-ness, my Blackness, my African-ness. It is the African Energy, the love and help from my brother Muhammed, and the belief of something unexplainable to American and Western science and medicine. The positive force and energy that once flowed in my soul, spirit, and body. It was the gift of the mother of all creation and life. Mother Africa. God and the Universe know I need it back. Truth be told, as Black and African Women, we all need to heal, grow, and create.