(I’ll add pictures to this post when I get them but in the meantime) I wanted to share some moments from an event I was honored to be a part of yesterday (March 25th 2018), Queens’ Collaboration presentation of Empress Menen’s Dawtas of the Soil Appreci-Love Day, which was held at the Nyabinghi Theocracy Church School Grounds.
Queens’ Collaboration, as radio host and Queens member Nikki Phoenix explained at the event, is a movement of women supporting each other and doing positive things. “If we unify, we learn how to give love and support to our sisters, and to love ourselves more.” (this quote might have been from Kai Davis – I wasn’t in reporter mode so I didn’t note as carefully as I should have but, either way, it speaks to the ethos of Queens’ Collaboration)
Empress Menen, we learned during a presentation and slide show, was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie and a formidable woman in her own right (e.g. as founder of the first all-girls school in Addis Ababa) and survivor (having first been married at 11 and married three times before, at age 20, marrying the ruler who is seen by Rastafari as the returned messiah). The presentation on Empress Menen emphasized her belief that “we be unified as women”.
The Nyabinghi Theocracy School and Church Grounds is a home and gathering place for one section of Rastafari in Antigua, and Kai Davis, a member of the community and teacher at the school, is one of the Queens behind Sunday’s event.
Dawtas of the Soil Appreci-Love Day was the first event of its kind, though indicators are that it won’t be the last. The first Dawtas were Edith Oladele, Joy Lawrence, and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse). Using an adapted song and spoken word version of Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman, accompanied by live drumming and pre-recorded music, young women from the community shared the achievements of the selected honourees – including Oladele’s missionary work in Africa and advocacy work with the African Slavery Memorial Project, National Award recipient Lawrence’s research in to the folk history of Antigua and Barbuda, a mission that has yielded several books and is still ongoing, and my publications (including 6 books) and literary arts advocacy (e.g. Wadadli Pen). Oladele did a presentation in which she reminded of the reason why we do the work we do. “It’s not for fame or popularity but it’s in order to serve others.” Her words were steeped in Christianity (“I never write before asking God to write, that’s how I write”) and Afro-centricity (“The ancestors speak to us if we allow ourselves to be open to them”).
It’s fair to say that the ancestors spoke to us through the young people and their performances – such as the little ones singing the Garnett Silk classic, ‘Hello, Mama Africa’.
Beautiful day: good positive vibes, good ital food, good uplifting music, and much love for the Appreci-love.
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.