MAYA ANGELOU, A CELEBRATION OF LIFE WELL LIVED BY ROBERT NGUNU
As I sat down to write my first post on the multifaceted human being, news broke out of the untimely death of Maya Angelou.Born Marguerite Ann Johnson,she was a renowned poet and writer who overcame difficulties from the early years of her life to become the icon who many looked up to.
I first came across her work when I was in high school the poetry book I Shall Not Be Moved. The title caught my eye because of the personal trials I had been experiencing.The book spoke of the struggles and difficulties one experienced as an African American but once you read it the theme became obvious it targeted a universal audience.One could feel her pain and experience her sorrow from the way she wrote but still feel the spirit of her characters as they tried to overcome the odds stacked against them. For someone who loved to read and had not experienced in the ways of the world, her words offered comfort and courage in the face of all the problems that faced me.From this experience my interest in literature grew as I sought to understand how words written by one person of a different place and time could soothe another who did not share the same experience but experienced the same feeling.
I therefore had to put my post aside to celebrate one of the people who helped shape the person I am today.Her life was normal and extraordinary in equal measure.Having to testify against her mother’s boyfriend at the age of seven and later witnessing the boyfriend being stoned to death,Maya’s childhood was anything but rosy.On top of that the racial segregation she witnessed as a child could explain her journey to become a civil rights activist.She didn’t let herself be defined by her past but rather she used her past to redefine her life and those of many myself included. .Her career was also characterized by stints as a music and drama teacher in Ghana as well as a playwright.
Much will be written about Maya Angelou in the next few days,some good some bad.Some have already started pointing out her earlier exploits as a prostitute and a stripper.Its actually amazing how she turned her life around.But it was part of her and that made her who she was and would want her life to be celebrated in its entirety.
Those who looked up to this force of nature can only pray her memory is done justice,live by the words she wrote and celebrate a life well lived. She expressed her pain and joy in her writing and I can only celebrate her memory by dedicating my first post to her and leave you with this words from her work Still I Rise “You may shoot me with your words,you may cut me with your eyes,you may kill me with your hatefulness,But still ,like air,I’ll rise “
Angelou, Maya. And Still I Rise .New York : Random House, 1978.