I Sought My Brother: An Afro-American Reunion available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- MIT Press
"The two scientists made a personal discovery in Suriname.... As a social anthropologist, I was fascinated by their story."
—Colin M. Turnbull
I Sought My Brother is a unique history of a black people living deep within the jungles of South America who not only survived attempts to enslave them but who have triumphed with their original African culture intact. It also provides the only permanent record of a way of life that may soon vanish as new technologies are brought to this remote area.
The story of a meeting between Allen Counter, a neurobiologist, David Evans, an electrical engineer, and the African-descended people of the Suriname rain forest was first told in the film, "I Sought My Brother," which appeared on National Public Television and in countries throughout the world. Now, in this pictorial essay Counter and Evans condense their experiences over and eight-year period into one long reunion with the bush tribes whose African ancestors escaped into the jungle after being transported to Suriname by 17th-century Dutch slave ships. They were victorious over the colonialists during a century of guerrilla warfare, winning their independence by formal treaties before North Americans won theirs from the British. Since then, they have carried on their traditional way of life with freedom and dignity.
The book traces Counter and Evans's discovery of this well-preserved African presence in the New World and their dangerous journey over river waters filled with rapids, rocks, and piranha that took them several hundred miles into the interior and centuries backward in time to thatched-roof villages and an exciting and highly emotional meeting with the Bush Afro-Americans. They are greeted by the headman who asks them if they are still bakra schlaffra, or "white man's slaves," and who wants to know if they have won their fight. "The battle is still being fought," the authors reply.
The text and hundreds of illustrations document their participation in village life—hunting and fishing, childbirth, medical practices, religious rituals, dance, building a house and a canoe—and in unfamiliar, "primitive," and holistic customs. In turn, the authors delight their hosts with cassette recordings of Otis Redding, Lightnin' Hopkins, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder, and eventually with their own film of the reunion.