“Sister Marpessa, A Griot Passes.”
In African traditional societies, the griot was one who held in memory the history of the tribe, its kings, its wars, its great events that mark it as a community, a nation, or a tribe. Several weeks ago, a woman known as Sister Marpessa returned to the essence after decades of doing the hard work of a griot for the black tribe in America.
She, living in a small town in Delaware, wrote about the black freedom struggles, and she wrote about prisons and prisoners before mass incarceration became a thing. Since the nineties, she and a small community of sisters turned up the internet with articles about these things.
Her love for black people radiated through her fingertips as she wrote her own insights, her articles, her columns on brothers in Delaware, the MOVE 9, and myself. We were all lucky to have her on the side of freedom.
Several weeks ago, a group of supporters went through her small Delaware home. They presented her with an award shaped like the African continent. On its face was engraved these words: “We love you. We respect you.”
Every tribe needs a griot to tell their stories. The griot is the collective memory of the people. Marpessa Kupendua, wife of [inaudible], mother of many, has returned to the source. She is loved. She is respected.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.