The woman who called herself Maria Osric believed in a revolutionary new alternative energy source that would change the world forever, that short hair for women was appalling, that a utopian New World order was inevitable, and that Maria could channel communications from alien races located in star systems that were light years away to partner with the ancestral Jews. They would assist the Vril Society and an alien race. The ancestral Jews she said were Black men like my father. She told me that my father thought that America was particularly wonderful because America was the "melting pot" of the world. We have a variety of cultures in our midst, and it's wonderful to embrace another lifestyle. It's also been a helpful (albeit somewhat dishonest) addition to our labor force. Most of all, I think everyone agrees that America is (was?) a wonderful place of opportunity for people who come from oppressed nations like my father.
What she was telling me I of course already knew, but how did she know about my father Abraham Yaphet Kotto as a young merchant marine disenchanted with the evil empire he was born into, his long month’s stint eating bananas in the jungle was over, his own nation so financially devastated that it took a dump truck of money to buy a loaf of bread. He lived through the ups and downs of the Cameroons. When he found he couldn't enter the U.S. legally, he jumped ship in New York, sucked it up and got a job washing dishes in the garment district, he later on got a job as a construction worker.
As the strange German woman spoke about my father, I began to listen to the voice in my head begin to ask questions. How puzzling that my mom claims she didn’t know my father was past deportation, while still in this country. Why on earth didn’t she talk to him about his immigration difficulties, why on earth wouldn’t she at least have provided him with a good immigration attorney before he took that construction job in Queens for Fred Trump? At the time, I didn't know what my father was up to or where he lived, but according to Maria I should. After boasting to my mother’s family, Samuel and Leontyne Joseph about his Cameroonian ancestry, you would think he would feel some sense of obligation to his son whose very existence provided the foundation of his proud boasts. Unfortunately, now it looks like he used his life stories to gain entry into the Fred Trump organization and gained employment, yet felt no compulsion to share a little bit of his construction salary or even his affections with me his son.
“I thought, Screw Yaphet Manga Bell Kotto!”
It wasn’t until I was married and was with my first child that I received a phone call that my father had a stoke on the job, or something, I don’t know. He subsequently entered Bird S. Cooler hospital in New York unable to speak or move. He had suffered a stroke. I was devastated, for a man I had only seen four or five times in my life. A man that did nothing to lift a finger to relieve a son that he spoke so affectionately of, when he went to see the Black Rabbi at the African synagogue in Harlem.
I didn’t know anything about my parents, my mother went into the United States army when I was maybe around three years old, I wouldn’t see her again until I was fourteen, my father? well I can count the times on one hand whenever I saw him, when the immigration officers came around to my grandmother’s house and ask questions about his where about concerning his legal status, I couldn’t answer, I’ll tell you what, I said to them, one day soon, I’ll take a walk up to the Trump Tower, see the Donald, and find out.
From the pages of Yaphet Kotto Alien Diary.
A Cauldwell, Fulton publication.