Embodying Ancestry: Nandi

Themes: ancestors, memory, Guyanese, dreadlocks, mother-daughter relationships, instinct, war

“Just as it’s important to talk to our spiritual ancestors, its important to pay attention to our living ones as well. This is where my whole concept for “Thank Your Ancestors” came from. I grew tired of people saying, “I never got to say goodbye.” But it’s not just about saying goodbye… they’re right here. They are living. Why wait until they are 92 and can’t really talk to try to hear these stories?”

“[My dreads] are not only stories from my life, but from my ancestors. There are probably interactions I’ve had with some of my ancestors who are no longer around that are intertwined in the strands of my hair. I understand when people say, “I am not my hair.” But in terms of the stories that I have [in my hair], I believe they are with me for a reason and that’s why I won’t just cut my hair. For my own ancestry work, I can’t just get rid of my ancestors like that, I would lose them. That’s where they stay. They’re in my hair, in my consciousness.”

“I just feel like its important that, yes, we pay homage to our deceased ancestors and know that they are spirits. I often say that my ancestors live in my gut, which is why that phrase exists, “Trust your gut. Listen to your instincts.” For me my instincts are my ancestors. My gut, that gut feeling are my ancestors talking to me.” 

“Its about listening. Talking to each other. Because just as much as your have to learn from [your ancestors], they have to learn from you. There’s a song from India Arie that says, “If old people would listen to the young people and vice versa” or “I wish there was a number where you could call your ancestors.” But they are right here. They are living.“ 

mom is a war person. She will not accept badness around her or any wickedness. If she feels wickedness she will expel it from her environment. I think that’s something that I am. It’s a skill that I’m still nurturing and honing, but I know where it comes from. So even now when it comes to the fire that I have in me, people will typically describe me as a fighter. I am a bellicose person. There is war within me and I am always ready to fight for what I love and what I believe in. I️ know that comes from my mom and whatever other ancestors who came before me who are also that way.” 

“The whole thing that started my understanding of living ancestors was thinking about beauty practices that we have that we don’t thank anybody for. And these came from generations past whether its put aloe vera in your hair or the highlighters that we use. And then from there, I started realizing how much of my personality traits come from people who are still alive, my mom being the primary example.” 

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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