These Seeds Wouldn’t Ensure Safety, But They Helped With Survival

open hand holding seeds
Graciella Ye’Tsunami
October 18, 2023

Throughout the Transatlantic Slave Trade, West African women braided rice seeds into their hair knowing that being snatched was a very real possibility. 

And while they had no idea what awaited them, they wanted to ensure they could bring a piece of home with them. Rice seeds offered culture and sustenance wherever they landed.

Over time greedy white enslavers capitalized on our ancestors' genius, forcing them to grow rice crops throughout North and South America. While rice plantations were extremely dangerous, our ancestors remained resilient. 

They knew they were leaving more than seeds in the soil.

Once enslaved Africans began running away, they often banned together and formed  Maroon colonies. Maroons depended on many tactics to survive, one being to sneak rice seeds from the plantations when their former enslavers weren’t looking. 

Just like their ancestors they hid the seeds in their hair.

Our ancestors preserved their wisdom to be passed on to us. In many ways the rice seeds are a metaphor for how to plan for a future that seems uncertain.

In order to create more liberated futures, we must first plant the seeds – seeds of change, abundance, love, and ancestral wisdom. 

Which “seeds” can you plant within your community that can provide knowledge about liberation to future generations?