• Lorraine Johnson

[75] The Beating Heart

In the spirit of tradition, the men cleared the farmer's field, made offerings to those who had come before. The women—lined up, wrapped in their lappas—with head down, bottom up, a traditional short handled hoe in one hand and a handful of rice seeds in the other. The Djembe drummers started to play their rhythm, the group moved in unison to the beat, melodically planting rice till they reached the edge of their shoeless feet. The drummers moved in the heat of the red sun toward a bare section of the cleared field—and the beats started once again. Filled with beating heart, the women turned and moved again as one toward the call—tirelessly and methodically—they turned, they moved—as the beats filled the space and the soil became full—and the bare field planted with the hope of rain and a bountiful harvest yet to come.


Lappas wiped their brows, and in celebration they walked back along the earthen path to a gracious feast of food and drink—filling their souls with the farmer's gratitude for the work well done and now complete. Tomorrow is another day, another field, another time to sow the seeds for those still carried—on the backs of the people as they carve out their life in a small Liberian village.


It was 1989. I was there, I wore a lappa and I moved as one.