Tommie Bangma

Keywords: #spiritualityinhealing, #africancaribbeandiaspora, #blackidentity

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Ignited by her thesis – The Heart of Legends: Why African Caribbean storytelling matters!, and her prose publication – Daughter of a distant shore – Tommie Bangma peels back the layers of her mixed Caribbean heritage to her Ghanaian core in graduation project Kukuya (means firefly in Taino, an Arawakan language spoken by the Taíno people of the Caribbean).

Kukuya explores a history disconnected by unanswered questions, migration and the fragmentation of black identity through visual, textual and symbolic storytelling. Bangma delves into the fusion of languages of her ancestors, engraving proverbs and fragments of her prose in Twi (a dialect of the Akan language spoken in Ghana), Taino and English into wooden Ghanaian Adinkra symbols. Traditionally Adinkra symbols have a decorative function printed on garments encapsulating evocative messages conveying traditional wisdom and aspects of life. The wooden Adinkra objects are ritualistically scorched and hollowed out to reveal drawings symbolic of Xaymaca (the Taino name for Jamaica –meaning the land of wood and water) in recognition of its dense history of colonization and liberation.

Bangma's artist methodology of layering visual, textual and symbolic storytelling is imperative to respect the black voice and their interlaced histories. She believes this to be a productive tension and inevitable in narrating her ancestral history.

"Whenever I see okra, I must smell it and rub it gently onto my cheek. Then, I cover my feet with sugar and imagine I am somewhere far away from home." – Daughter of a distant shore. 

"The narratives we spin connect us to the web of our ancestral voices, gifting us the strengths of intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness and resistance." – The Heart of Legends: Why African Caribbean storytelling matter!