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Kristina Bookall: Reviving cultural convos with Proverbial Yard

Published:Sunday | June 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMRocheda Bartley - Gleaner Writer
She reminds us that ‘bird cyaan fly pon one wing,’ we need each other.
Bookall also uses keyrings and bracelets as bearers of her messages.
Kristina Bookall explains that her favourite proverb is "No expect nothin’ from a pig but a grunt."
Proverbial Yard is a hub for wise sayings creatively displayed in different forms.

‘Nanny goat neber scratch him back till him see wall.’ Sounds familiar? Proverbs, words of wisdom, or old-time sayings, call them what you may; there’s no doubt that these adages send strong messages of survival. For Kristina Bookall, a young architect and entrepreneur, these expressions are packed with subtle clues that point directly to our cultural identity. And she believes it is time to revive conversations about these timeless and clever pieces of advice.

That’s why she has made it her duty to spread awareness of the sayings and propel others to courageously tackle life’s challenges.

Proverbial Yard is her branded special assignment. It’s also a burgeoning entrepreneurial venture she aims to keep alive to inspire successive generations. An expert in graphic design, drawing, and illustration, she has explored art forms such as canvas prints, posters, calendars, fashionable bracelets and bags and keyrings to send her messages. She said that houseware and stationery items are next on her agenda.

“What do they mean to you? I always ask that question. I think this is a side of Jamaica that has been forgotten. It’s just lost and I want to change that. I want to use proverbs to motivate others and make them smile. Like this one ‘victory no come from lay down ina bed’. Can you imagine waking up every morning and seeing this, especially on a day when you really don’t feel like dealing with somebody or committing to studying?” Bookall explained.


Sitting with Outlook recently, the cultural enthusiast recollected her early years pestering her mother, who studied linguistics, about the meaning of proverbs. The interesting and often captivating dialogues between the two encouraged Bookall to uniquely illustrate the meaning of the expressions she learnt. But the passing of her mother compelled her even more to embark on her mission.

“I’ve always wanted to learn more proverbs. It’s just a fascination and I want to share it with others. I feel like it brings us closer together. So, I’m constantly thinking of cute and funny ways to explain what they mean to get conversations started. They are wise sayings. Many of them are warnings and there is truth behind each,” she said.

She continued: “My favourite one is no expect nothin’ from a pig but a grunt. I don’t have to try to explain because it’s so clear. And that’s what I like. Our proverbs are so straightforward.”

Bookall enjoys speaking with older folks. Her mission is simply to widen her knowledge of these short sentences that are typically drawn from experiences. The rewarding learning experience is therapeutic and it’s her way of immersing in pure satisfaction.

The 30-plus-year-old is also a student of Dalhousie University in Canada and uses the opportunity while studying abroad to influence members of the Jamaican diaspora.

For more information on Proverbial Yard visit its social media page on Instagram @proverbial.yardie.