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  • Janet Orlene

Ota Benga was a man

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

In 1906, 40 years after the abolishment of slavery,

They displayed him to the crowds. An evolutionary spectacle.

The missing link.

The connection between man and animal,

As they evolved.

They boxed him up in zoos and gave him the freedom to roam.

They called it freedom anyway.

The benevolent masters.

The superiors.

The masters of the zoos and museums

The masters of the world.

They watched this inferior creature, unable to call him human.

They watched and jeered

Calls ringing off the walls, echoing through his empty heart.

Palms fitting into another’s palm, he found solace in the monkey cages.

Perhaps this was the missing link they has forgotten.

The link that had gone missing.

A hundred years ago,

He was freed. To walk upon the same land as the others.

A hundred years ago,

He lit a bonfire,

Watched the lonely flames dance to the music of his life,

Choreographed by a million hands, none his,

And shot a bullet through his broken heart.


Janet Orlene


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