Friends and Family,
As promised, we are sending photos and news about our newest arrival. We want to welcome Jordan Vaslekey Bliss Bailey to you, and the community. Born April 6th, 2009 at 11:54am, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, he was 7lbs 15oz. He is beautiful and healthy, and so is Mama Sha.
Being artists, there is always a story to tell. As I was saying towards the end of the pregnancy, the baby was not only a good listener but was also already learning about his parents’ busy lives and schedules, and decided to wait until after April 3rd (the Urban Griots Awards show) before his arrival. On Saturday, as we were resting from the work intensive and incredible Urban Griots Awards, we received an email from our Doula about how to naturally induce labor. Even though we wanted him to wait until after April 3rd, we didn’t want him to wait too long, also the doctor advised that if the baby did not arrive by Monday (April 6th) we’d have to induce. So Saturday night, we ordered Eggplant Parmesan from Bucas (which Sha ate twice) and watched movies. On Sunday, we went to a doctors appointment, to make sure the baby was doing okay, and to also figure out if we’d need to induce on Monday. On the way back from the hospital, we stopped at the Village Wok and ordered a very spicy plate of Udon noodles (Sha’s favorite) and took it home, for more rest and a movie night. Less than 2 hours after eating the noodles, Sha looked at me and said, ‘I think my water broke.’ We gathered our pre-packed bags and headed to the hospital. Once they confirmed the water had broken, we couldn’t leave the hospital and the adventure of birth began. After a night of contractions, breathing, tears and laughter, the little man arrived mid-day on Monday. We prayed for a natural and safe delivery and quick, and all of our prayers were answered. We left the hospital on Wednesday, and have been home adjusting and taking care of baby since. Before we left the hospital we were lucky enough to have B Fresh come down and take some photos. They are beautiful as always. We hope you enjoy them too.
Jordan is a name that both Sha and I have always wanted for our child. It’s a beautiful name, and has a number of powerful meanings.
Vaslekey was the name by which my African grandfather was called. A traveling Mandinka merchant from Guinea, he settled in Saclepea (Nimba County, Liberia) and built a farm. There he met and married my grandmother, Mayamu, from the Mano tribe of Liberia. The Mandinka people (also known as Mandingo or Malinke) are descendants of the Empire of Mali and the great king Sundiata Keita. They have rich oral, spiritual and musical tradition, and carry on the griot tradition. They are also part of the Mande linguistic group, of which the Mano people are also a part. The Mano people are believed to have migrated to Liberia from northern savannas in the 15th century. My grandfather’s surname was Slekey, and Va mean Father. So he was called Vaslekey, meaning Father Slekey. Because that is what he was so commonly known as, Vaslekey, was listed for my African mother’s (Massa) surname when my birth certificate was filled out. She is now known as Massa Sirleaf. My grandfather was a very tall and powerful man, with ‘hands the circled the world’ as I have often described. His strength and exploits are still told to this day. During my life here in the U.S., he has often visited me in my dreams, usually as I am preparing for a new journey or a major life change, such as during college, and as I was preparing to return home to Africa in 1999. He visited me several times during the pregnancy.
Bliss is the family name of my American mother, part of the Bliss/Cook family line. They are the family that nurtured and raised me in the U.S. Several sons of the family fought in the Civil War. Her grandfather went to the University of Virginia, and came North with one of Katherine Hepburn’s uncles, because there were no jobs in the area in the post Civil War era. Lines of the family have roots in Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Bailey is my paternal family name. It is not Irish as most people think, but rather Old English, from the the Old French ‘bailiff’ and/or Scottish ‘bailie’. From my Uncle’s research on our family history, he discovered that members of our family arrived in the U.S. on the Mayflower. My father was born in Rochester, New York; attended Colgate University; served in the Peace Corps in Liberia, during which time I was born; and returned to the U.S. and became a teacher.
I wanted to have a Cage family name but Sha felt that four names was quite enough. Lol. Of course, all this is not to put any pressure on the new one, but to celebrate the histories and traditions that are part of his lineage; and so that you may know him a little better. We will celebrate whoever and whatever he becomes.
We are so excited and blessed. And we thank you all once again for your prayers and support.
e.g. (and Sha)