Volume One

Volume One

The Moja saga begins with Innes Ellis, the only living elder of the Ellis family. He returns to America after decades estranged, to find his grandson, Sitano. This was an easy task, as Sitano has become a successful hip-hop artist in Los Angeles. Innes hatches a plan to approach Sitano backstage after he performs his new single, “I Am My Own Creator.”

At the end of the show, Innes is reluctantly accepted backstage and sarcastically congratulates Sitano on being “his own creator.” He exclaims to Sitano that his lyrics are false, then proceeds to tell him that he is his grandfather –– and they have a lot of catching up to do.

When Sitano was very young, his mother –– Innes’ daughter –– passed away. Abruptly following, Innes left the family and the country. In his first song, “Paris Promise”, Innes explains why he had no choice but to flee. Although the self-righteous Sitano initially resists this reunion, he begins to understand and forgive his grandfather for abandoning him.

Grandfather Innes is determined to help Sitano process all this new information about their family. He shares another song, this time from both Sitano’s parents, “Couldn’t Find You in a Bottle” –– the music was written by his father and the lyrics by his mother. The impact of hearing this song speaks directly to Sitano’s heart.

Couldn't Find You in a Bottle

Feeling intrigued and sympathetic, Sitano begins to ask questions. Innes starts the story further back in the family tree with Sitano’s great-great-great grandmother, Moja.


Innes then begins to tell Sitano the story of Moja –– how she was enslaved at 19 years of age, and how music was her saving grace.

Sitano is now determined to find out more about his family and the impact slavery has had on his life, so he invites Innes back to his house. Could this complete the confidence Sitano has been lacking, misrepresenting his arrogance for absence of identity? They commune once again, now over a glass of cognac.

The men are now together at Sitano’s house as Innes continues to tell them about Moja’s secret wedding, followed by tragedy and her inevitable capture.

Photo credit: Wagon Master Johnson

Photo credit: Atwater Village Newbie

The men are now together at Sitano’s house as Innes continues to tell them about Moja’s secret wedding, followed by tragedy and her inevitable capture.

After being captured, Moja and her companions, Haji and Ndayme are sold to slave traders from Zanzibar. This meant they must walk the Ivory Trail while carrying heavy tusks. Chained to over a hundred other captives, they trudge slowly together to their miserable fate.

Ivory Trail

Once the surviving prisoners reached the end of the Ivory Trail in the coastal town of Bagamoyo, they knew it was likely the last time they’d ever see Africa. Sailors shove Moja, Haji, Ndayme and the rest of the enslaved into the dhows of the ship that will carry them 20 miles across the sea to Zanzibar.

“Home and family left behind, seeking hope I cannot find”


When they arrive in Zanzibar, Moja and Ndayme are thrown into a women’s dungeon where they must wait for several days to be sold. It’s a hot, dirty, small space and it smells horrible.

“Strength and prayer brought the serenity to endure”

The slave traders of Zanzibar sell Moja, Ndayme, and Haji and they are North American bound. Once aboard their captors ship, Moja and Ndayme learn their duties were to be personal slaves to owner, Captain Roebuck.


The girls could not bear to live in these conditions and made a pact to permanently end their suffering. As every night grew more depressing than the last, Moja decided enough is enough. Just as she steps onto the railing of the ship to meet her demise, something inside – a glimpse of hope – stops her.

Eight Bells

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