06 November 2008

history is the home address

“History is the home address.”

Mongane Wally Serote, a South African writer and poet, released that wisdom on the world like one would drop a grain of sand into the ocean. And yet, even if I am the only one who heard him, the transcendence of that statement will not leave me.

History is our home address. In our history, we have a place that we can go back to, a place that is familiar and warm. It is a place where truth is malleable, where shared recollection and permissible embellishment have equal footing. We have a place where we have commonality and joint interest, where we exist beyond the fragile ethos of today.

Our history is an inexorable link to our future, at once a tool that teaches and a switch that scolds. It is a transferable unit, a currency that we share with those close to us. It is the home address of a black girl adopted into a white family. It is the home address of a white family embraced by a black nation. It is the stories of slaves merging with those of merchants. It is the legends of heroes colliding with the whispers of dissidents. It is the glory of creation intertwined with the beauty of evolution. It is the source of our tears and the genesis of our joy. It is the place in which we conquer all that is before us in the simple recognition of all that is behind us. It is a place to consider the beginning. It is the place we yearn to inhabit at our end. It is the strength and hope of a people. It is a birthright, an inheritance, and a legacy. It is our collective, individual identity.

It is our history.

And history is the home address.

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