Monday, November 17, 2008
A fellow blogger recently referred me to a story published by a major media house with me. We agreed that the story took a only cursory glance at the connection that Jamaica has with Africa. I brainstormed a bit to make a case that surely my link to Africa is not as tenuous as all that, and I found that my knowledge in that regard was scant, so I started to read and talk to some people about it. In doing so it has become clearer to me how tangible, how strong, how evident our African ancestry is in our daily lives and I am thrilled to no ends about it.
Our African ancestors came from the West Coast, from ethnic groups such as Akan, Ga-Adangme, Igbo, Ewe-Fon, Twi, Yoruba, Bakongo, Cromantin, Mandgingo. In what ways did we in Jamaica deliberately and/or subconciously perpetuate their ways of thinking, their ways of being? Where in Jamaica, and in what forms do we find expressions that have their roots in these and other West African tribes? In a series of posts, I will attempt to answer both questions. I will show that we often set out to copy and retain our African ancestry, but I will also show that amazingly, some of these ways of thinking, ways of being were not taught to us, nor transmitted through any systematic means, neither did we deliberately preserve them. Some of them are simply embedded in our psyche and we express them in various forms; art, language, music, dance, religion and cooking.
In the next few posts I offer some specifics of some of our expressions that are purely African in origin. Here is a peek. The majority of homes in Jamaica are protected by buglar bars- what we call grills and guess what? The most common motifs in our grill work are basically carbon copies of Ghanian adinkra patterns like the ones picture above. In Jamaica, we are surrounded, immersed in African aesthetics everday.