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Root Work Journal - Navigating the Ocean - Volume 1, Issue 2

Tongues as Casting Net

Matam Pages





Writer, Performer, Pleasure activist. I write stories for all Black people who love all Black people, centering Liberation and creating the world we want to see. The Root Work Journal is part of this mission, and I seek to learn all the ways to reimagine Black life and actualizing its breath on the page, and beyond.

This piece is a memory washing ashore. Utilizing the life cycle of shrimp - which is what my country of Cameroon is named after - it is a retracing of the complicated history of language and war, and how they tear a country and its people apart. As an immigrant from a country currently steeped in a civil war over colonizers' languages, who now lives in a country steeped in the same war waged differently, this poem is both of home and of legacy. The mission is to examine the unwilling inheritance that can come in three ways for Black people across the diaspora: by water, by blood, or by name.

Tongues as casting net


There are 16 different stages of life found in shrimp from egg to adult



15th-century Portugese explorer Fernando Po & I have one thing in common: we both love


when my country emerged from the mesh of his mouth - tongue a casting net -

he called it Camarões, after the abundance of shrimp found in the River Wouri


in 1884 Kamerun was first colonized by the germans


War gives so many bodies

example: in 1916, germany lost the 1st world war, Cameroun was placed as a

mandated territory, given to france and britain to rule

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