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Trinidad Head

This is a hastily painted rendition of a small red-roofed building clinging to a cliff over the Pacific Ocean. This is, I believe, the battery housing for Trinidad Head Light in Trinidad, California, painted in 2009. I keep my notes, task lists, phone number, and thoughts in green government issue record books, and decorate the fronts with (mostly) lighthouses(1).

IMG_2467Trinidad Head Light is where we had a memorial service for my brother, Omar, who passed away too young.

In our family we have embraced a tradition of speaking the names of our ancestors, usually on a birthday, or at a funeral, to honor and remember them, and for me- to consider the one link I am in that chain. Good or bad, ancestors are the greater part of who we, the living, are. And we the living are only one sentence that looses meaning if not placed within the context of paragraph, chapter, and book of family history.

“To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again” according to the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Speaking the name of the ancestors is a theme common in many cultures. The Hopi will name Ancestors during kiva rituals, the Mande jiliw recounted the ancestral heroics of their leaders, to remind their leaders to behave likewise(2).

So Omar Khufu Garland Ben-Iesau, happy birthday. We remember you this February, the month of your birth. __________________________________________________________________

(1) You can see the collection on Pinterest @Beniesau
(2) Conrad, D.C., 2010, Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay

 


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