West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition at the British Library is on until Feb 2016. It is fascinating to learn about Nigeria, West Africa in connection to the rest of the black world especially during the slave trade. Also how since then culture fusion has evolved.
A section for Fela Kuti that shows an insight to his Christian upbringing and how being a choir boy inspired his music interest – important fact that is usually left out when talking about his legacy.
One of the most interesting parts of this exhibition I found was the recordings of Nanny of the Maroons.
On the wall was a short video clip showing how revered Queen Nanny was amongst her people. I thought it was interesting that people were prostrating for Queen Nanny when greeting her. In Yoruba it is the male that prostrate while female knee down to touch the floor when greeting elders.
Is this tradition from Ashanti region of Ghana where Queen Nanny was originally from? Or people decided to prostrate because of her amazing leadership skill that are sometimes attributed to only menfolk?
I was thinking about this when I heard giggle sounds behind me. A group of children were taking turns listening to the audio about different tales that were made up to decipher the secret behind Queen Nanny’s leadership success.
The audio was about how the Queen Nanny fought really hard to resist British invasion of her community. She was very wise and managed to strategically device ways to teach her people to disguise as well as set up rules to follow to avoid invaders. Her dedication contributed to preserving African culture and knowledge in today’s Jamaica.
The narrator ended by talking about how the British soldiers initially were confused about Queen Nanny’s ability to have resisted invasion for so long. One story was that the mystery of Queen Nanny’s courage was because she twerks during the battle so much so that her behind emitted bullets killing the soldiers – this was the part that got everyone laughing.
What an incredible way to get children learn about history? This group did not believe it is possible for any backside to shoot bullets, but it sure got them interested to learn more about Queen Nanny.
We now know through hand down oral narrative that Queen Nanny was a great leader with formidable courage – her legacy lives on.
Reading a bit more about Queen Nanny, I loved that Jamaican government recognises her heroism, duly honoured with her portraits on the country $500 bill.