Translation: Back To Africa

Original: Back to Africa 
By: Louise Bennett 

Back to Africa, Miss Mattie? 
Yuh no know what yuh dah seh? 
Yuh haffi come from somewhe fus 
Before yuh go back deh! 

Me know seh dat yuh great great great 
Granma was African, 
But Mattie, doan yuh great great great 
Granpa was Englishman? 

Den yuh great granmodder fader 
By yuh fader side was jew? 
An yuh granpa by yuh modder side 
Was Frenchie parlez-vous? 

But de balanca a yuh family, 
Yuh whole generation, 
Oonoo all bawn dung a Bung Grung - 
Oonoo all is Jamaican! 

Den is weh yuh gwine, Miss Mattie? 
'Ow yuh view de countenance, 
An between yuh an de Africans 
Is great resemblance! 

Ascorden to dat, 
all dem blue-yeye white American 
Who-for great granpa was Englishman 
Mus go back to Englan! 

What a debil of a dump-an-bore, 
Rig-jig an palam-pam 
Ef de whole worl start fi go back 
Whe dem great granpa come from! 

Ef a hard time yuh dah run from 
Teck yuh chance! But Mattie, do, 
Sure a weh yuh come from 
so yuh got somewhe fi come back to! 

Go a foreign, seek yuh fortune, 
But no tell nobody seh 
Yuh dah go fi seek yuh homelan, 
For a right deh so yuh deh! 

Back to Africa Ms. Mattie? 
you know not what you speak! 
you'd have to have been there first 
before returning from whence you seek. 

I know your great-great-
great-grandmother was African, 
but Mattie, wasn't your great-great-
great-grandfather an Englishman? 

your great-grandmother's father 
on your father's side, Jew? 
and the grandfather of your mother
a Frenchman too? 

The majority of your family, 
that entire generation 
was born in Jamaica... 
they are all Jamaican. 

So where are you going Ms. Mattie? 
Why is your reasoning such? 
Apart from the fact 
that you and the Africans resemble much! 

As a matter of fact, 
a blue-eyed white American 
whose great-grandfather was an Englishman, 
should go back to England? 

What chaos it would be, 
utter chaos I imagine, 
if the entire world decided 
to return to their great-grandfathers' origin. 

If you are trying to escape hard times, 
take your chance, go ahead. 
But Mattie, be sure where you started 
so you can return whence you fled. 

Travel, seek your fortune, 
but tell no one here 
that you are going to seek your homeland, 
because you are already there.


Anonymous said…
I actually had to perform/read this over the summer when I was in Trinidad, because an excerpt from this is included in Jamaca's cultural policy.
Anonymous said…
I like the creole better the standard English is so darn boring I am a Jamaican so you cant expect better from me. lol
Anonymous said…
There is a world of difference between saying that a commotion and upset would be created if everyone chose to go back to *where their grandfather came from*, versus “rejoining their grandfather’s race”. I was shocked when I saw that word. I was quite sure Miss Lou had not used it thus, and indeed she did not!

A translation should convey the author’s meaning and not put words in their mouth. For shame.
Rae said…
Excellent point from the last commenter! The line has been updated.

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