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

The Water (A Series)

Tafari Melisizwe



Tafari Melisizwe is a freelance photographer primarily based in Chicago, IL and Atlanta, GA. He curates “Motherland People,” a digital platform that explores the lives, experiences, and stories of America’s African-descendant community. Through photojournalistic-style portrait photography, Melisizwe explores historical and contemporary relationships between people of African ancestry in an effort to forge meaningful understandings and connections along the continuing lines of language, geography, culture, and history. I hope to meaningfully contribute to our healing; fighting and building. I hope to connect with good folks who love African people and endeavor to bring us closer to the freedom we rightfully deserve.

“The Water'' is a 5-image series created at Hunting Island South Carolina in the summer of 2020. Colonized land now known as South Carolina continues to occupy an under-discussed place in the long night of captivity for African Peoples and the formulation of the United States broadly. The formulation of the United States as we know it, let alone the United States was not inevitable. With popular renditions of history often omitting this, African (and Indigenous) agency, fierce resistance and victory (along with its concomitant white fear) in this part of the world are also intentionally glossed over and omitted. “The Water” pours libation to those Africans who remain(ed) above and below the water line; to those who chose to go under because they knew that there are some things worse than death, to those who chose to stay above it to survive, endure and fight another day. Both were necessary. Both are necessary. Unearthing and communing with these strategies and the countless ancestors-- known, and mostly unknown -- who produced them can offer much to consider as African people the world over endeavor to answer affirmatively remix a quote by the late Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton as we seek to find answers that answer, explanations that explain, and come up with conclusions that conclude.


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