The Book Spotlight of the Week is The Griot by Valarie S Thomas
About Valarie S Thomas
Valarie S. Thomas was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of West Florida, where she gained a B.A. in History and Secondary Education and an M.A. in Acquisition Management. Valarie currently teaches middle school history and lives in Hampton, Virginia, with her husband and their two children.
Her love of writing has seen Valarie write her debut novel, entitled The Griot. It is a story of a young girl who is forced into a society that keeps the deceitful secrets of their nation and is available through Amazon.
When she has time to relax, Valarie enjoys sewing, reading and writing. She also loves traveling, which has been a feature of her life since she was aged just 3. She has visited 3 African countries so far, with more planned in the future.
Valarie’s favorite quote comes from Malcolm X – “we need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience and patience creates unity.” With this quote at the center of all she does, it is her dream to raise her children to be wonderful people, to foster a love of history in her students and to expand her creativity. She would also like to live somewhere tropical in the future.
You can follow Valarie S. Thomson, and find out what she is writing about next at:
“Blacks have never belonged in America,” was Father Malcolm’s mantra. In the year 2014, he created a settlement in Africa’s Serengeti for African Americans. Two hundred years later, the kingdom of Za and the citizens who inhabit it are thriving until one of them is forced into a secret world that will challenge everything she’s ever believed about herself and the kingdom she calls home.
Zen’s life is seemingly perfect. Set to marry the love of her life, she believes all of her dreams are about to come to fruition, but when she’s forced to join the Griothood, a secret society of storytellers, her life takes an abrupt turn.
When Zen learns the truth about herself and the kingdom she so loves, she is handed the responsibility of stopping a treacherous band of rebels before they destroy the kingdom. If she doesn’t stop fighting her calling and learn that no one is who they seem, Za is doomed.
Torn between the life she knew and the stories she hears; Zen is left bewildered. Was her entire life a lie?
With so much at stake, can Zen save her kingdom and all she holds dear?
And then there’s the breathtaking prince…
The Griot Valarie Thomas
The sweat-drenched brown backs of the two African men baked in the blistering heat. They paced as they waited for the Outsiders to arrive. The younger of the two repeatedly asked, “Are we doing the right thing?”
“Can you taste the riches waiting for us?” the older man asked, closing his eyes in bliss. The younger man also closed his eyes and imagined finally having electricity, automobiles, phones, and so much more. His dark lips smiled, too, revealing a perfect set of white teeth.
Just then, faster than an impala or cheetah, two black trucks appeared on the horizon, leaving a trail of dust in their wakes. The two men rushed to the back of the covered wagon to retrieve the gift for their new friends. The girl bucked as they grabbed her tied arms and yanked her down from the wagon.
“Shut up,” the older one barked to the gagged girl, but her muffled screams didn’t subside.
The younger man stared into the girl’s frightened, wet eyes. He quickly regretted it. He wanted to free her, but it was impossible. He’d told the 15-year-old girl to knock before entering his room, so many times. Now she knew the crippling secret, and although she promised not to tell, they couldn’t chance it. The black cars sped along the savannah.
When the vehicles stopped, two male strangers with light skin and perpetually squinting eyes got out of each of the trucks. They smiled. It was the first time the younger man saw Asians before, and he tried not to stare.
“Hello,” the stranger with graying hair called as he proffered his hand.
The older black man shook the stranger’s hand but kept his other hand firmly around the girl’s arm. The younger man suddenly became distracted as he looked out at the unending plains. How would these men change their world? He immediately felt that their vibrations were low and their intentions were wrong. He wanted to back out.
“How are things going?”
“The rebellion is growing every day,” the older African man answered proudly. He was telling the truth. They needed the rebels to be strong in number and skill, because the people would never take this complete transition from the “old way” lightly. But as the older black man said, “The people won’t know that they were tired of the old ways until we show them how much better things could be. Once they saw what life could be, it wouldn’t take much more convincing.”
“I don’t understand why you won’t let us supply you with weapons,” one of the Asian men sung with his arms spread wide. The older man had told the younger one that they were Chinese and their wealth was astounding.
The younger man had asked the same thing, but the older black man had told him, “Although I’m working with them, I don’t trust the bastards. We don’t want to become indebted to them by letting them give us anything we didn’t make an even trade for. Especially weapons. And, I believe the rumors about Za’s hidden arsenal. We’ll find it.”
“What’s this?” the gray-haired stranger asked, jutting his chin toward the girl. His eyes smiled.
The older black man grinned. “A gift.”
The girl’s eyes widened, and she gave a shrill cry that gripped the young man’s heart like a vice.
All four of the light-skinned men smiled. One of the men opened his arms and laughed. “I accept.”
The older black man added happily, “She’s a virgin.” He dragged her to the arms of the hungry men, who felt her up and whispered lascivious things in her ear as she cringed and pleaded to the young black man with her eyes. He was supposed to protect her. That’s what men did.
A round Asian man said, “Even better. Do we bring her back?”
“No. Do whatever you want with her, just don’t bring her back.”
“Well, we have what we promised,” the gray haired man said.
One of the other men handed over a bag. The older of the black men took it and looked into it, eagerly nodding his thanks. “In two full moons, the revolution will be complete. We’ll come to you when it’s done.”
The four men nodded and got into their vehicles with the writhing girl. She would never see her family again. She would never see Za again. The men would probably kill her once they grew tired. To take his mind off of that, the younger man imagined himself driving one of those vehicles, but he quickly apologized to the ancestors who walked among them. Still, his soul sizzled with their fury. The kingdom of Za was about to be turned upside down, and it was all his fault.
Zul grabbed Sahel by the ears, and Sahel gnashed his teeth and grunted. I leaned forward to observe the two fighters. Damn it, I cursed Sahel. How did you let him get so close? Sahel yelped in pain as Zul mercilessly pulled at his earlobes. He was at the mercy of Zul, but with one quick sweep of his forearms, Sahel broke Zul’s grip away. The smooth black skin of their bodies gleamed with sweat as they circled one another, crouched low as they crab walked. Their eyes scrutinized each other as each waited for the first sign of his opponent’s weakness.
A breeze whipped my cottony kinks into my face as I watched from my seat on the ground. “Come on, Sahel,” I whispered and tightened my fists.
“Auntie Zen.” I looked toward the source of the high-pitched voice. Soweto, an adorable four-year-old girl with her hair cropped close to her scalp, stood trembling beside me. The fire from the nearby torches danced in her gorgeous eyes. “Why is Uncle Sahel fighting?” she whimpered. Neither Sahel nor I were truly her aunt or uncle, but it was how younger people showed deference to those older than them.
“Awww, come here.” I reached for her pudgy brown hand and lowered her into my lap. “He and Zul are just showing off their skills. That’s what young men do during the Yoni Fest. They attempt to impress the girls so that we’ll want to make them our husbands.”
“But Sahel will already be your husband.”
The people gasped. I looked up and my breath caught in my throat. Zul and Sahel were entangled in each other’s arms, baring their teeth and snarling. One would never guess that they were best friends, and during this Laamb match, a traditional fighting style adopted from Senegal, that didn’t matter.
I kept my eyes on Sahel, forcing myself to breathe, and said, “Yes, he will be my husband in just a few short months, but winning this is still important to him. The respect that comes with winning this match will follow him even after he dies. His children’s children will speak of his victory. And when he goes to warrior training next month, he’ll be the leader of his age set. And maybe he could even be chief of Obsidian.” The idea made my heart flutter. Sahel had already beaten four boys in his set. This was his final fight.
Sahel was the most gorgeous man in our small village, and my soul was wrapped up in everything that he was. I sat at the edge of the Harambe circle along with every other person in my village. Every eye focused on the two perspiring boys grappling in the center. Sahel was tall and slender like a Maasai warrior. His feet were swift just like the shifting sands of the Sahara Desert, and his mind was sharp. Zul, however, weighed more and was even taller. Zul struck Sahel at least three times, while Sahel hadn’t even hit him once.
The crowd suddenly erupted as Sahel slammed Zul onto the ground. Dust powdered the air. I jumped up with Soweto in my arms and screamed.
“Keep him down! Keep him down!” I hollered. Sahel’s brothers thrust their fists into the humid night sky as chief counted down. I squealed, praying that Zul wouldn’t buck Sahel off him—he was trying with all of his might. Finally, the chief called it, and the crowd exploded with cheers. Sahel had won. The stern-faced chief held up his prodigy’s arm. Sahel’s white teeth shone brightly. I danced around as I held Soweto. She giggled.
After hugging his family and friends, Sahel walked over and held out his hand to me. I kissed Soweto, put her down, and ran over to him. Sahel hugged me with his sweaty body, and I pressed my lips against his.
“I knew you would win.”
“Yeah right, Zen,” he laughed. “I saw the fear in your eyes.” Sahel looked around with exhaustion in his eyes. “I tell you what, I can’t wait for this damned Yoni Fest to end so that I can have you to myself.”
I looked at the others in my age set. They had begun following the elder women out to the bush to begin tonight’s rituals.
I groaned. “I’ll be all yours tomorrow.” I touched his smooth hairless cheek. “Wow. I’m going to marry the head warrior.” I gave him a quick kiss before turning to leave. He held on to my hand for a few moments before letting go.