Embodying Ancestry: Kei

Themes: Caribbean, family, Senegal, grandmother, dance, Afrio-Cuban, spirituality, matriarchy, diaspora, drums

“Embodying Ancestry is an important journey of self to learn where you came from in order to know where life may potentially lead you. It’s a grounding point. It’s easy to get lost in all the different attractions and distractions in the world. Different things catch your attention; however, it serves to keep you stable knowing you have a foundation in your family when you get lost. It’s a sense of home outside of your blood. It keeps you calm and cool, at least it does for me.”

“So this coal pot was a gift from my grandmother for my birthday. I actually don’t recall which birthday she gave it to me, but I had to have been between the ages of 5 and 8. So in the Caribbean there are different size coal pots you can use for cooking herbs, as a heating source, but for the mini ones the use is more minimum for incense. Inside this coal pot is gowe, which is a name for incense which is supposed to ward off bad energy and negativity. And this particular incense is from Mali. So while my mother and I were doing some shopping in Senegal we got some incense.” 

So for my 25th birthday, my mother and I made our way to the motherland. And its funny, when she got off the plane, she said it felt like home and home for her is Antigua. And we started to notice that the people we met on the street, even the lady downstairs at the restaurant looked like family. We haven’t taken the opportunity to actually look up our ancestry, but in our heart it feels like part of our lineage came from there. Be went to Goree Island. We did a tour in a couple of neighbors in Dakar and it was a time of rooting, of reflection and the experience definitely had an impact on me.”

“This necklace was actually given to me by my paternal grandmother. So whenever I go visit her she likes to take my bracelets so in exchange she gave me this necklace because it could not fit her anymore. And the chain actually reminds me of the Caribbean style – the gold gaudy feel – and the elephants are a nice touch. The elephants are really cool just in terms of family being very, very near and important – it’s the maternal instinct that they maintain. It’s a matriarchal lineage. I’ve heard and they have really strong memory of everything that transpires in their life. They remember a face. They remember an experience and they actually have their own rituals when it comes to birth and rebirth. I saw a video on instagram of a mother elephant giving birth and all the other elephants came to her and they all put their trunks up and made a loud sound and it actually started raining. It was actually a really beautiful moment. So I don’t know in this modern time there are those traditions happening, but if the animals can do it, why aren’t we doing it? Where are our traditions at?”

“Senegal felt like home to me. Especially when I got my hands on a drum. Oooh did it feel like home. Oooh did it feel like home when I heard the drums and I was able to move with it and connect. I felt that the dance spirit is in me.”

More Participants

Lontia | Marylin | Amy | Jasmine | Christie | Geraldine | Patricia | Laura | Angela & Diana | Tsedaye | Eddie | Lola | Briana | Simone | SINI | Italy | Ekua | Anika | Reem | Bobo | Kei | Macy | Sarah | DaMonique | Nandi | Anise | Yadira

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