On June 8, over a hundred children at Mmofra Foundation’s language club welcomed “Jamaican Anancy”, on a “visit to Accra” to reconnect with his cousin Kweku Ananse!
Children’s activities on this busy afternoon included making and flying their Jamaica – Ghana paper airplanes, and autographing a big map locating the two countries across the Atlantic Ocean.
Ruth Kwakwa, a Jamaican living in Ghana and co-founder of the Anancy festival, describes her motivation for organizing the event this way:
“I took Anancy for granted as a child, was tickled when I realised that he had international connections, and was awed by the fact that he had such a history. This is a great step towards creating links between Jamaica with West Africa, and Jamaicans and Caribbean people living outside of the Caribbean, with the Caribbean. Anancy is something for our children to hang on to. As an adult, I am also prying into Anancy and wondering what we can do to put a 21st century spin on him to make him more attractive to our children, and more relevant to their world.”
Maisie Howell, also an organizer and animator of the Accra event, joined Ruth in a spirited introduction in which children learned words and songs in Jamaican patois. Before a large backdrop of the Atlantic ocean, Auntie Ruth and Auntie Maisie did a splendid job helping the 110 children present understand the historical and cultural connection between Ghana and Jamaica.
After 500 eventful years, they said, Jamaican Anancy has gotten tough, resistant and even more wily! Yet the cultural similarities were clear as an Anancy/Ananse story from each tradition was told.
Auntie Maisie performed a variation of the well-known Bre Anancy and Tiger test of wits, and Benjamin Kwadey, a veteran actor of the national drama company gave us a less typical Kweku Ananse story.
Putting it all in the original traditional context of “Anansegoro” (Ananse Storytelling) were Mmofra Foundation’s in-house master storytellers and performers Ama Buabeng, Akua Florence, Kwabena Ntow, Major and Okyere.
If the attentive listening, the busy signing of the huge map and the enthusiastic learning of Jamaican songs and games are any indication, the celebration of Anancyfest in Ghana is off to a great start as it joins an increasing number of worldwide venues!
At Mmofra, we’ve been committed to showing children how their cultures have become international. Our Pinterest board of “Everything Ananse” will continue to be a resource for children and adults interested in all aspects of Ananse folklore.
A big- up to the Jamaican community in Accra who put a lot of effort into organizing, documenting and participating in this event!
Some images in this post courtesy of the Anancyfest Facebook page.