Queen Nanny reimagined art and movie pieces | Entertainment

Reimagining Nanny it was originally a project which, in the words of Minister Olivia Grange, aims to “recognize Queen Nanny of the Windward Maroons of Jamaica as much more than a warrior woman and Jamaica’s only national heroine”.

As conceptualized by Jamaican University of New York professor Leo R. Douglas, it was originally an art-centered competition. It now has an extra film dimension.

The first five artworks from the competition are currently on display at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), East Street, Kingston. The film, an 18-minute documentary that shows Bonă as the “boss of biodiversity, forests and waters of the Blue Mountain”, will be launched in Kingston in March 2023, on International Women’s Day. It is still being filmed, but edited segments of it were shown to an audience in the IOJ lecture hall last Sunday.

Grange’s words were delivered at the Reimagining Nanny Awards ceremony and exhibition opening in the Lecture Hall by Denzil Thorpe, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. He spoke for Grange, who was inevitably absent.

Thorpe also said: “The Reimagining project allowed us to look beyond the usual script and see Granny Nanny as a protector of the natural environment and its treasures; one that honored the forest and its wealth of biodiversity; one who valued plants as a storehouse of medicines and cures’.

He pointed out that the activity was an official Jamaica 60 event, one of the year-long celebrations themed “Jamaica 60 – Rekindling a Nation for Greatness”, and commented on the appropriateness of the theme for the project.

Dr Susan Otukon, Executive Director, Jamaica Conservation & Development Trust (JCDT), said that when Dr Douglas, former director of JCDT, shared her concept for this Reimagining Nanny project, she agreed that JCDT, as manager of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCM), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, would be associated with it.

She told the audience that Nanny Town, the military and spiritual capital of the Windward Maroons, is located in the center of the Blue Mountains and the site, along with the Nanny Town Trail and others used by the Nanny and Windward Maroon ancestral communities and still used today by the Windward Modern Maroons, is an important aspect of the BJCM’s inscription as a UNESCO heritage site.

Quoting a United Nations website, she said: “Women play a key role in environmental protection and socio-economic development. They are often the main stewards of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture and experts in traditional medicine.”

Professor Douglas said that while working in the Rio Grande Valley of the Blue Mountains and John Crow, he met Colonel Wallace Sterling. “It opened my eyes to so much more of Nanny’s lived experience. She was much more than a warrior. He studied plants, had comprehensive knowledge of birds, biodiversity and forest, trees.

She would have given, among other things, African names to native plants. She brought Afro-Caribbean spirituality to this space.”

Dr. Douglas mentioned some of his early studies and work that led him to the project. These included his BA and MA studies at the University of the West Indies in the life sciences unit, his work on watershed management in the Blue and John Crow Mountains, his PhD studies at Columbia University in human-environment relations, and even the stories duppy. his mother told him as a child.

The idea for the film began after he chose the first five artists entering the Reimagining Nanny art competition he had initiated. “The narrative was so rich, so important, we wanted to include other voices – like those of Colonel Sterling, other Maroon leaders, people at the IOJ Museum of Natural History who know the plants, who can talk about their medicinal uses , I can speak to the fact that some came from Africa, that some were just from here (Jamaica), and how the plant naming process happened. We recognized that through art alone we cannot say what we want to share with the Jamaican people and the world,” he said.

Asked exactly how Nanny was reimagined, Douglas said, “We’re reimagining Nanny as a naturalist, botanist, herbalist, biologist—because those professions we’ve traditionally prescribed to white outsiders.”

He recalled that in interviews with 500 Jamaican children over four years, he was consistently told, “Dem tings ain’t what Jamaicans do, sir. Strangers do things to them. We don’t do their things.”

“My goal — and it’s become a mission,” he declared — “is to show that I’ve done those things all along — before I came to Jamaica. It’s who we are. There is no need to part with those professions and give them to others, when it is not really theirs. We must own it, protect it and cherish it.”

Douglas’s sister, Professor Marcia Douglas, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a poet, novelist and actress, plays Nanny in the film.

“Before we started filming,” she revealed, “I spoke with Mama G, a Maroon leader, activist and healer from Charles Town. She said that being filled with the Nanny is similar to being filled with the Holy Spirit. I get it, so I feel like playing Nanny is trying to be full of her. It is a humbling experience and a great privilege.

“Being in the project involves being in the hill, in touch with nature as Nanny was. It’s not glamorous at all, but it’s very nice. It gave me the opportunity to be in awe of nature, as I imagine Nanny was. There is something about nature that fills you up and allows me to see something of the world through Grandma’s eyes and interact with nature.”

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