Ekundayo, a Dogon spirit brought to America from Africa, inhabits the body of a young African American slave on a Virginia plantation, where he experiences loss, sorrow, and reconciliation in the months preceding the Civil War. Amma is the creator god, the master of life and death, and he is worried. His people have always known how to take care of the spirits of the dead - the nyama - so that they don't become destructive forces among the living. But amid the chaos of the African slave trade and the brutality of American slavery, too many of his people are dying and their souls are being ignored in this new land. Amma sends a young man, Ekundayo, to a plantation in Virginia where he becomes a slave on the eve of the Civil War. Amma hopes that Ekundayo will be able to find a way to bring peace to the nyama before it is too late. But Ekundayo can see only sorrow in this land - sorrow in the ownership of people, in the slaves who have been separated from their children and spouses, in the restless spirits of the dead, and in his own forbidden relationship with his master's daughter.
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