hadithi ya  [remixed excerpts from sassafrass,cypress and indigo by Ntozake Shange]

…& she layed up nights readin’ herstories of ancient civilizations that were closer to her than all that stuff abt England & the wars of the roses. She wrote songs of love & vindication for all the afrikan & indian deities disgraced by the comin of the white man/& loss of land/& cities reflectin’ respect for livin’ things.

“ i yam sassafrass/my fingers behold you i call upon you with my song you teach me in my sleep…”

Cypress opened up a large stained-glass box and pulled out four finely embroidered pieces of cloth.

“Hey, Miz Weaver…Sassafrass.  These are my inheritances for some children I don’t have yet.”

Sassafrass looked over, and saw blocks of minute figures and arrows and circles in different colours. Cypress became terribly excited while she explained that each of the cloths was a complete notation of a dance developed from her own experiences in de Kushites Returned. Sassafrass checked that de stitches were even en de designs exceedingly intricate.

“Cypress, if de white folks knew you were doin’ dis, they’d steal all of it and put it in a museum!”

Cypress was wallowing in Sassafrass’ appreciative statement when she recalled what their mama had said: “whatever ideas you have that’re important to you, write down…but write them so your enemies can’t understand them right off.”

Feeling triumphant, Sassafrass en Cypress did the time step down Fulton Street.

At de bus stop, de two sistas enjoyed one mo childhood pastime: singing rhythm & blues; first, Tina Turner’s “I’m Just a Fool, You Know I’m in Love” and then de Marvelettes: “I saida look, look, heah comes the postman, twistin’ down de avenue…he’s gotta lettah in his hand, an’ I know it’s gotta be from you-who ooooooo” And Cypress announced plans for a whoop-la get-down after the show at her house, with lots of good wine and good, good food. Like maybe……..

Three C’s: Cypress’ Curried Crabmeat

2 tbls vegetable oil                                                                           pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, chopped                                                                             pinch of ground cloves

1 fresh green chilli pepper (seeds removed)                          pinch ground cardamom

½ tsp grated ginger                                                                         2tbls chopped parsley

¼ tsp turmeric                                                                                   2tbls lemon juice

Heat vegetable oil and fry onion until soft. Add chilli pepper and ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, and fry for 3 minutes, sprinkling with wota to avoid burning. Add crabmeat and salt to taste. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped parsley. (serves 4)


My Mama & Her Mama ‘Fore Her: Codfish cakes (Accra)

4 ounces salt fish (cod)                                                                  1 small onion, chopped

2 cups flour                                                                                         ¼ tsp black pepper

1tsp dried yeast                                                                                1 ½ cups warm wota

2 blades chives, chopped                                                              1 tsp suga


Put yeast en suga in bowl with ½ cup wota, en set aside. Soak fish for ½ hr, remove skin en  bone. Pound fish, chives, onion, en pepper until very fine. Sift flour with yeast mixture and add rest of wota; stir until a soft batter is formed. Let stand in a warm place. Add fish mixture en beat for 2-3 minutes. Spoon fish into smoking oil. Drain, and serve with hot floats.


De Floats Be-fore de Fish

1 pound flour                                                                     1 tsp dried yeast

4 ounces shortening                                                       1 tsp suga

 1 ½ tsp salt                                                                         warm wota

Mix yeast, suga and a little wota in bowl en set aside for a few minutes. Sift flour en salt together; add shortening, yeast mixture, en enough wota to makea soft dough. Knead until smooth. Put to rise in a warm place for 2 hrs or until dough has doubled. Punch down. Knead again, cut dough into small pieces, en roll pieces into balls. Put to rise again for 20 minutes. Flatten balls out to 1/8-inch thickness en fry in smoking hot oil. Drain en serve hot.

Cypress’ Sweetbread: The Goodness

Use any kind of cornmeal, add cooked beans and mashed sweet potatoes, baking soda, salt, a dash of cinnamon, en ¼ cup honey. Cook in pan as ordinary cornbread. Eat hot or cold