Date of Award
University or Center
Clark Atlanta University(CAU)
Josephine Bradley, Ph.D
This study examines the term flight, as both motif and as consciousness in the legend of the flying Africans, and the cosmological differences as represented in four texts: Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Paula Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow, Ralph Ellison's Flying Home, and Octavia Butler's Kindred. Flight is measured in terms of recurring patterns found within the texts and their meanings given by the authors. The problem of this research stems from the issue that the Gullah, direct descendents of the flying Africans (Igbos) along the Coastal Sea Islands of the United States, have upheld an age hierarchy of secrecy such that there is limited research in the area of flight, allowing this group to maintain a unique African identity for over 200 years.
This study was based on the premise that the Igbos' concept of flight was not only a survival mechanism but also a way to form community and identity and to keep the memories of their ancestors alive. This idea is called epic memory, that which has to be pieced together in order for the person to be made whole.
An intertextual historiography analysis approach was utilized as the methodology to better understand the life and culture of the Gullah and Igbos. Karla F. C. Holloway argues that revision, (re)membrance, and recursion are always present when analyzing "speakerly texts."
The researcher found that numerous recurring patterns within the selected texts began to form meaning around beliefs and myth within culture remembered during epic events. The patterns were often obscure with hidden codes that were revealed after the understanding or gist of the plot came to view.
The conclusion drawn from the findings suggest that the flying Africans were able to fly home at will because of epic memory, and that all African descended peoples are able to recall the fragmented pieces regardless of geographical location.
Thomas, Darlene D., "Flight: an epic journey in the legend of the flying Africans" (2015). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. 3112.