Vagrancy, Permanence and the Sense of Home 6
We’ve been discussing nomadism in the ballad Fishing for Our Father. At the very heart of vagrancy is the issue of desire—the desire for freedom, for new horizons, for a place to call home, for some permanence. But not every desire’s ever fulfilled. This is what we’ve distilled so far from the song.
At the start of the ballad, the slave-narrator had expressed his single-minded desire for freedom. The punishing, looping march across the country was the price he was willing to pay to purchase his freedom. By the end of the third segment of the ballad the slave’s quest remains just a quest.
In this, the 4th instalment of the song, the narrator moves from his search to another traveller’s search. One man’s desire is subsumed into another person’s. Here we’re told of the arrival of Nepoh from kpa-Mende country into koh-Mende country. Nepoh and his wife Talogbe find a home and put down roots. They not only find a home, but they go on also to found a town, have a son and found prominent lineages.
As for the slave-narrator, we’re left to assume that he’s still searching, the desire for freedom as elusive as ever.
See the Salia Collection for Fishing for Our Father 4.