ZURI AND THE VOICE
One day a small African child named Zuri walked away from her people in the village, who were always fighting among themselves and warring with other tribes in their nation. Zuri had traveled a great distance before she stopped and suddenly realized that she had walked very far away from her village. Looking around, it dawned upon Zuri that she was lost, in a great big world…all alone! “Where am I at? Where am I going?” (Zuri asked herself, thinking out loud.)
It was then that Zuri heard The Voice from beyond say, “You are heading where your people are going in time, if they do not embrace the light”, warned the mysterious voice.
Quickly turning and looking about for this unknown voice talking to her, Zuri appeared to become more angry than frightened. Not seeing anyone around, Zuri shouted loudly with all the might that her small body could manage. “MY PEOPLE ARE NOT YOUR CONCERN AND WHO YOU BE THAT SPEAKS SO BOLDLY UPON MY PEOPLE’S FUTURE, FROM THE HIDDEN SHADOWS AND WHY DO YOU SPEAK WITH EMPTY WORDS?” Zuri called out demanding answers.
Sounding much closer and disappointed, The Voice answered back. “Zuri my child, be of peace for my words are not empty, but are fruitful and bring forth a message of enlightenment to help your people find their way back to unity and not continue down the path of self-destruction.”
Deep within, Zuri begin to believe that the unseen voice was the spirit of her ancestors, which was testing her wisdom and judgment. So, Zuri calmly asked the voice again: “Who are you that speak with me?”
The Voice responded with confidence: “I am who many turn away from, while others face me only when they are able to see, feel, and receive my LIGHT; as the truth of the universe and nature without being afraid to accept me as I am, such as you Zuri.”
Zuri walked over to a nearby rock and sat down, and then she turned back in the direction that she heard The Voice speak and asked, “How do you know of me?” The Voice answered proudly saying, “Small child of beauty. I have been with you from the beginning of that star-filled night of your birth, to the very day that the sun brightened your path to this here place of wisdom.”
Zuri looked up and stared way long and deep into the sunny sky above before saying “But what do all this got to do with me? I am but a small child trying to understand my people.”
Now sounding much closer, The Voice replied, “Zuri my chosen one, this is something that has everything to do with you, your people, and the sun.”
“The Sun?” Zuri snapped back, sounding both frustrated and puzzled.
Sensing her confusion, The Voice went on to explain, “Beautiful child of many questions, it’s very important that your people understand that they must shine as one LIGHT upon this world. Just as the sun, moon, stars shine their light throughout the universe.”
Zuri became curious and more interested now. She asked the wise voice to share more about this shining ‘light’.
And so The Voice continued to speak on in a proud manner, “The Light, Zuri, must grow from within the heart, before it can shine outward to brighten the path of the people’s future. Now listen carefully Zuri: You are the carrier of the ‘Light’ and you must guard and protect its power deep within your heart and soul, just as a precious diamond Jewel. And you must spread this ‘LIGHT’ amongst your people with Perfect Love.”
Zuri stood up and asked The Voice, “You speak highly of this ‘light’. What kind of great ‘light’ is this?”
The Voice answered, “This is the sacred ‘LIGHT OF UMOJA’. And you, my sun-child, must carry the ‘Light of Umoja’ everywhere you find the ills of self-hate and destruction shadowing over the future of your people and causing hopelessness and despair.
As Zuri listened closely the VOICE then warned her: “But beware Zuri, because those who are weak, tired, or scared, will try to discourage you from your life’s calling. And those who are selfish and united will try to lead you astray and get you to turn against your people. So beautiful one, in such challenging times, you must remain strong and determined, because the ‘Light of Umoja’ must prevail mind’s one-ness and souls of your people and you, small warrior princess of truth, must be the LIGHT OF UMOJA’s Guardians.”
Zuri found herself trying hard to embrace the many new words of enlightenment, when she suddenly became aware of the voice.
The now silent Voice made Zuri ask, “Where are you? Please do not forsaken me. You have yet to answer all my questions.”
The Voice sounded far away when it spoke this time, “Small brave child, I have not abandoned you. Please do ask of me what you will.”
Zuri slowly thought out her questions before she asked, “Who are you that many will not face and are afraid to accept?”
The “voice” answered back: “I am what my words say, I am reality’s Truth!”
Zuri nodded understandably and then said, “I understand, but what does the word ‘Umoja’ mean that you say I must shine upon my people?” Sounding very serious, The Voice replied, “The word “Umoja” (oo-moe-jah) means ‘Unity’. And it is this ‘Umoja’, Zuri, that you must take back and share among your struggling and suffering people Zuri. You are one of the few chosen to perform this important duty for your people.”
Suddenly Zuri began feeling a little uncertain about all of this, so she shouted out to The Voice, “I’m no coward, but I am such a small child. How can I do these important things that you speak of?”
The Voice answered from a distance, “Zuri, my small child, star of natural Beauty, you have journeyed alone far…three suns and two moons to arrive here safe to this sacred place of enlightenment. And just as you have led yourself this far unharmed, so too must you stand before the ‘Light of Umoja’. Seek all its truths and learn how to lead your people much further by using the ‘Light of Umoja’ that has been blessed upon your beautiful heart and soul. Be patient little one of Natural Beauty and it will all come clear to you in due time, as you continue your life’s journey of learning, growing, and Be-coming from reaching out and embracing the light of truth growing within you. But never forget that you are not alone in this calling. There shall always be others of like-minds and spirit among your people. Unite and learn how to work together, share responsibility (‘UJIMA’). Do not get distracted from this unity of purpose. Learn to tune out distractive noises and tune into The Voice of your ancestors within your heart. Listen and let those who have been there where you are at, experience some of what you have or likely will, so that they can help you reach out to your people and uplift, enlighten, heal, restore, build, and help them. This Zuri is the true calling of your Journey.” The Voice then fading.
Zuri stood there in silence for a moment to embrace everything that the wise voice of enlightenment shared. Then she asked the fading voice one final question:
“Before you go, could you please tell me where this place that my people will go, if we do not come together and embrace this light of Umoja?”, Zuri asked.
The Voice quietly responded from the distance: “Zuuurrrrrrriiiii, just …Look at…where you are standing right now…” echoed the voice as it trailed off into the far distance.
And for the first time since she had stopped to listen and talk with The Voice, Zuri noticed that she was standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking a deep dark-abyss! It was then at that moment and time that Zuri came to understand what fate awaited her people, unless they embraced the ‘Light of Umoja’. They will stumble and fall over the edge, down into the pit of self-destruction and perish, as a divided People!
As Zuri stood there at the edge of the cliff, she stared out toward the bright sunlight, searching, witnessing, and experiencing its awakening power; she realized her life’s purpose and duty to her people.
Standing there tall and proud, Zuri held up her Guardian spear in her small tightly clenched hand and shouted loudly for the whole world to hear:
“TO MY ANCESTORS ABOVE, AND TO MY PEOPLE HERE ON EARTH: I, Zuri, future queen of new Afrika shall with all my blessed heart and soul, lead my struggling and beautiful people to unity because in unity we find strength and collective power to overcome all of our problems and it’s the strength of my people that will help US TO SURVIVE AND CREATE A BRIGHTER FUTURE SO WE CAN ALL ENJOY A TRUE QUALITY WITH TRUE FREEDOM AND HAPPINESS.”
ZURI AND THE VOICE
WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY,
KILAIKA ANAYEJALI KWA BARUTI
TRANSCRIPTION EDITED BY: