Photo courtesy of Eman Desouky
[ID: Black and white image of DJ Emancipation standing against a wooden gate, holding a cigar in her right hand with puffs of smoke that magically seem to come out of her eyes and her mouth. She is dressed in a black suit jacket, with a thick gold watch and gold chains with pendants as accessories.]
Listen to the stirrings of your copper brown skin, the greatest gift of the Egyptian sun, the creator of all life. The focus of your deep eyes, molten and luscious. The rhythm of your heartbeat, strong and deep, as it drums your life’s beautiful song. Can you hear it? Do you know what language that is? We have been waking up to this melody for centuries.
These are songs of re-membering*. Of re-awakening. Let us re-member together:
Listen: “Hanina” – Jasmon feat. Mohammed Mounir
NUT, oh holy one. Goddess of the sky.
You guided our people across the Mediterranean sea. The currents carried us to the West. Propelled by the winds of thunderstorms and Sahara dust* across the Atlantic, to places where they spoke different languages, but were mirror images of us. You remind us of the songs we sang when we landed and were greeted with care by the peoples of those lands.
On our journey back home we anchored off the Western edge of our continent before making our way into the Mediterranean. We remember the pain You held bearing witness to the creaking ships that reeked of terror. A strange language not of this land echoed. Black bodies imprisoned, shackled, enslaved. Our fear floated into the heavens and You wept. Your tears falling through the skies, across the land, beating down against our skin. We sang songs of grief, drummed rhythms of courage as we watched our kin being forced onto the ships. We sang and sang. Together we opened our mouths as your name screamed through our throats, tossing our bodies to the sand, undulating, throwing dark tresses side to side through the air with our heads bent until our voices, raspy and pregnant with sadness, faded with the ships into the depths of the wailing Atlantic.
We look into each other’s eyes and see the edges of NUT’s majesty: Altair, Pleiades, Alawaid, Andromeda, Kaitos. This is the map home. Oh Nut, sacred sky mother, You help us re-member that our ancestors created the universe. Reflections of us, returned whole. Now as we toss our bodies to the sand, throwing our dark tresses side to side through the air, it is in reverence of You. And it is in reverence of us.
Listen: “Alf Leila Wa Leila” – Om Kalsoum
Oh Isis, divine Mother. They stole your name like they stole our ancestors from their tombs, stole our belongings, stole our lands. They took us from Your womb, oh holy One. They took us from ourselves when they said we were too ugly, too dark, too Black. They turned our sacred into a joke. Dis-membered. Severed our continent despite centuries of graceful crossings through/above/below the Sahara by our kin. Are our dead lost and wandering because of the theft of our resting places? Will our ancestors know who we are? Will they find us?
But as we are bent in grief, singing songs to the winds that carry our prayers on the Nile, we are no longer afraid. We dance with warm sand between our toes as we touch our foreheads to the fertile soil of the delta smelling like tears and blood, in reverence to You, divine Mother. Your magic is like a balm, oh Isis, healing the wounds of grief with each prayer of re-membrance, each moment we invoke the song of our people that tell stories of the majesty of who we are and where we come from. The balm that stitches us back to ourselves, whole. In the practice of being beyond space and time, moving our bodies together, you remind us that our lives are not scarce, they are Infinite.
Listen: clip from Latcho Drom
Oh Sekhmet, holiest of warriors!
They saw our eyes, red from the tears we shed when they built the dam that flooded our ancestral lands. The Nile floods filled our sacred temples. Our homes were destroyed. Our culture epicenters washed away into the sea. They uprooted us, but didn’t know our roots have survived for eons, nourished and healed by those very same waters. They tried to drown us but they didn’t know we were descendants of Nubia’s Nile warriors. The Undrowned. Healing the earth. Rising eternal from the waters like the sacred blue lotus. Our Nubian songs filling the skies with our undying love for the land.
They called you bloodthirsty but they do not know you. What they thought was blood in your eyes was really magic. Your rage is misunderstood. Our power frightens them. It roars across the lands in prayer, returning to us tenfold, filling us with your fierce love, as our undulating arms echo the soft hills and valleys of Nubia, and the soft tongue of our Nubian song. We re-member you. We re-member us.
 This act of “re-membering” is inspired by the work of Layla K. Feghali of River Rose Re-membrance, who says that we re-member in order to heal the “culture of severance” that characterizes our contemporary world, a transformation of personal, ancestral, communal, and ecological traumas and violations towards a more life-affirming and dignified reality.
 Goddess of the heavens, creator of the world, in Egyptian mythology
 The Sahara Dust is a natural phenomenon where sand from the Sahara was blown by a storm across the Atlantic, to the lands of Borinquen, now known as Puerto Rico. I imagine these storms (which continue to this day) carried my ancestors, in partnership with the Phoenecians, across the Atlantic regularly way before Columbus was even an idea in the cosmos.
 The mother of us all in Egyptian mythology
 Lion goddess, fierce warrior spirit in Egyptian Mythology
This article appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of In Dance.