Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Tribe Sankofa queries anthem's meaning

Published:Friday | December 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Tribe Sankofa in performance.
Jamaica's Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison (back, in dress) with Tribe Sankofa, after the world premiere of WORD SOUL: The Lorna Goodison Edition in 2016.
Oku Onuora
Olive Senior

Tribe Sankofa's presentations have gone political. In 2015, the performing arts troupe acknowledged the Mario Deane incident (in which the young man died after being beaten at a police station, after being arrested for a spliff) to highlight the nation's plight with police brutality. This year, the thespians and singers will take on the National Anthem, to question if Jamaica is truly a land we love.

Tomorrow at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI, Sankofa Arts & Facilitation will present Tribe Sankofa in a performance titled WORD SOUL: The Miss Olive, Oku & 'Jamaica Land We Love?'. Tribe Sankofa will share their interpretations of the work of critically acclaimed poets Olive Senior and Orlando 'Oku Onuora' Wong, known as the father of Jamaican dub poetry. Tribe Sankofa will also share the stage with special guest performers Leonie Forbes, Shantol Jackson, Noelle Kerr, Makeda Solomon, Deanne Allgrove, Shanese Johnson, Jordan Moncrieffe and percussionist and drumming tutor Ouida Lewis.

Alongside those famous and familiar names is Darian Reid, assistant artistic director of Tribe Sankofa and the conceptualiser of 'Jamaica Land We Love?'.


Immune to bloodshed


"It shows how immune we have become to bloodshed. It questions each individual's role as it relates to protecting Jamaica - this is based on what they do and don't do," Reid told The Gleaner.

"I'm not presenting solutions. I'm presenting what is happening and leaving the audience to do what they will with it.

It's a blend of drama, music and dance depicting changes in the society and critiquing where we are as a nation 55 years later, especially as it relates to crime.

The National Anthem, how the last line of every chorus ends... I'm trying to figure it out by looking how bloodletting has become the norm. We big up Jamaica when it's Olympics time, in those celebratory moments, we come together - otherwise, what are we doing?" he continued.

Tomorrow night will be the premiere of Reid's piece, which has a current run-time of 30 minutes. "I'll be working on extending it. This is just the first time for WORD SOUL. After this it's back to the drawing board to see what we can add or alter in the performance," he said.

Partnering with Sankofa Arts and Facilitation for the performance are the Department of Literatures in English, UWI and Bookophilia as the Word Soul ticket outlet.