Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 119 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 119 Summary

Alex Haley sets off on what will become an ancestral journey. As he ponders where to start, his mind rests on the graying old ladies who told him vivid stories while rocking on the front porch in Henning. Instead of beginning with the few historical details (such as his ancestor’s name “Kinte” and the few African words that have the “k” sound predominating), Alex Haley decides to begin where his inspiration began: on that front porch with oral history. Alex figures out that the very youngest of the graying old ladies would be “Cousin Georgia,” Georgia Anderson. With all the other old ladies dead and gone (including his own grandmother), Alex sets out to visit Cousin Georgia.

It turns out that when Georgia Anderson visited Henning to tell the stories to Alex, she was visiting from Kansas City, Kansas. In her mid-eighties now, Georgia Anderson lives with her son and daughter in Kansas. On the way to visit Georgia Anderson, Alex Haley considers how Georgia helped Alex’s younger brother, George, in the past. George, being very politically oriented, decided to run for state senator in Kansas. When he won, he credited the win to a “Cousin Georgia” who would take her walking stick and knock on people’s doors with it and always demand that they vote for her George because he had such tremendous integrity.

When Alex finally reaches Georgia Anderson, she is very ill and in bed all day. However, with one mention off Alex Haley’s quest, she immediately sits up straight, opens her eyes wide, and recites all that she knows: that the African’s name is “Kinte” and that a guitar is called something like a “ko” and that a river is called a “Kamby Bologo” and that Kinte was chopping a log to make a drum when he was caught and sold into slavery.

Alex Haley desperately tries to make Georgia Anderson understand that his mission is to find out where this “Kinte” came from and, therefore, reveal the family’s ancestral tribe. When Georgia Anderson begins to understand Alex Haley’s quest, she informs him that not only is she on his side but every ancestor in the family, “dey up dere watchin’ you!” With that kind of heavenly guidance, Alex Haley continues on his quest.