Guyana: Education Through African Culture, Heritage

(DPI, 31.Jul.2020) — A webinar focusing on African Cultural Teachings was hosted by the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) last evening.

Moderators, Shonetta Lowe and Kayshell Jennings spotlighted the Adinkra Symbols of Ghana with panellist Yaa Anima Mensah of Ghana, the History and Significance of Drumming with the Hebrew Family of Guyana Drummers, and Head Wrapping with Deborah Kenhide of Nigeria.

Yaa Anima Mensah, more popularly known as “Nani,” a material scientist and engineer, and founder of Nani’s Creations, celebrates the beauty and diversity of African culture through her work. She has received multiple awards including the Pride of Africa Award in 2018 for her exquisite representation of the African culture through her work.

Mensah (Nani) describes emancipation as, “bringing people together from all walks of life, especially the black community.”

Nani explained that the Adinkra Symbols of Ghana were created by the Gyaman King Nana Kwadwo Agyemang Adinkra to represent historical events and express powerful non-verbal sentiments.

Some of those symbols include – the NKONSONKONSON (pronounced in-kohn-sohn-kohn-sohn), which is symbolic to a chain and constitutes unity and community. “Without unity, a nation will fall,” Nani reiterated.

Another noteworthy Ghanian symbol is the FUNTUNFUNEFU-DENKY (pronounced foon-toon-foo-nay-fooden-chem-foo-nay-foo), which is symbolic to Siamese crocodiles and depicts democracy and unity.

In his presentation, Shemuel Jones, representative of the Hebrew Family of Guyana Drummers, explained the integral role drums play in the African culture. Jones relayed that drums are not only used for entertainment and celebrations, but also as a means of communication.

“Around 500 AD. [in Africa] when there was a war or battle, specific beats were used to communicate to the various tribes about their enemy’s location.”

Jones outlined some of the drums used in the African culture such as the talking drum, the kettle drum, tabla, bongo, tambourine and the congo drum.

Nigerian-born and now based in Guyana, Deborah Kehinde demonstrated various head wrapping techniques during her online presentation. Kehinde, an entrepreneur, promotes beauty and culture through her business which markets African clothing, makeup and skincare products.

On August 1 – Emancipation Day, the cultural businesswoman will be opening her African store “Rhoda Doxa,” to give Guyanese the full African experience through her products.

Rhoda Doxa is located on Republic Drive, Beterverwagting, E.C.D., and is scheduled for a grand opening on Emancipation Day at 11am.

The IDPADA-G will be hosting several other emancipation events via Zoom, including today’s presentation which will feature H.E. President David Granger speaking about the historic moments and turning points in African Guyanese history at 7pm.

This presentation can be viewed on IDPADA-G’s Facebook page or with this Zoom ID: 848 3820 7459. Other events will last until August 8 to celebrate Emancipation 2020.

Note: Gyaman: (also spelt Jamang) was a medieval Akan people state, located in what is now the Bono region of Ghana and Ivory Coast. Gyaman was founded by the Bono people, a branch of the Akan, in the late 15th century.

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By Gavin Lewis, Communications Officer, Department of Public Information (DPI)