Press Play to hear Sankofa, aka David A. Anderson speaks on Historical Storytelling and Cultural Identity on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.
David A. Anderson/Sankofa
In 2009, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture convened, at the Washington Mall, several members of the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) to “give voice,” to “explore the expressive power of the creative African American verbal arts and oral traditions in the shaping of American culture and communication.” Through stories [and] words of wisdom, . . . we NABS sisters and brothers . . . evoke[d] themes dealing with “hearth, home, and community.”
One in our cadre, was Dr. Hugh Morgan Hill, i.e., Brother Blue, a most honest and dynamic cultural steward. He heeded the Biblical pronouncement:
Time. For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. . . . (1)
While he “plucked,” he also heard that there was
A time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time gather stones together. (2)
Even so, a cloud disturbed our circle.
In time, and beyond the Mall, it gathered up the form of Dr. Hugh Morgan Hill.
It was time.
Words from Ecclesiastes line the chamber that is my conscience. The message competes with the attention demanded by my body, diminished in its ability to respond to stimuli. Though I cry out for restoration, it is not to be. Diminished though I am, I unite with those who seek to interpret, for example, adinkra.(3) Countless significations on complex cultures out which “African America “emerges, once punctuated the resumes of Africans captured into the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; they were etched on the hearts of captive. Sill, in the generations coming to puberty since the age of the internet, the behavior commanded by such symbols, have, as stones, been cast away.
Clearly, we who claim kinship with the African griot, must enlist those raising the young, to the task of gathering stones together. Again, using Adinkra, as an example, is both visual art and proverb. The proverb, reinforced by the visual, commands that I retrieve from the past, that I might channel wisdom into the future. In short, I am at a time in life that I must “pluck up that which is planted”; and I must ”gather stones together.”
Brother Blue admonished us to use the stones to break the chains imposed by conditions of poverty; ignorance; racism; meanness. He affirmed: “The story is the immortal thing, my way of touching people’s soul.”(4) The collective soul of the United States remains embattled; mortal, therefore wounded. Healing requires many more of us to seriously, persistently seek to touch souls, souls assembled at whatever mall, that in turn the nation’s soul might be healed.
To learn more about Brother Blue you can listen to his interview with Eric Wolf on this show.
1) The Holy Bible; the King James Version. The Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter Three, verses 1 and 2.
2) Ibid, verses 4 and 5.
3) An art form in which traditional Akan symbols or images are stamped on cloth that is to be worn. The Akan is a large cultural group essentially based in Ghana and neigh boring Ivory Coast.
4) The Men of Storytelling: Live at the duSable Museum of Chicago. A recording of a live performance produced by Your Favorite Storytellers Foundation, Inc., Chicago, Ill., 2002.
Bio: SANKOFA/ DAVID A. ANDERSON
Sankofa, aka David A. Anderson, retells traditional stories, and creates stories that punctuate themes of contemporary life. In 1993 Sankofa conducted workshops hosted by The United States Information Agency in Accra, Ghana, for Ghanaian and American librarians. In 2009, he was in residence for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History’s “Giving Voice,” an “exploration of the expressiveness of African American oral traditions in the shaping of African American culture and communication.”
Featured at several annual National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) Festivals, he also performed at the 2002 Clearwater ’s Greater Hudson River Revival, and the 1999, National Storytelling Association conference in Kingsboro, Tennessee. In 1999, he was featured on National Public Radio’s “Celebrating African American Storytelling.” He was a presenter at the 1994 Public Library Association’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in Atlanta. He co-directed the 18th Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference in 2000, during which he received NABS’ “Zora Neale?Hurston Award.”
Sankofa’s living history reenactments recall the Underground Railroad, and, the 20th century civil rights struggles. With Akwaaba: the Heritage Associates colleagues, he brings to life episodes in those struggles, including portrayals of several black Civil War veterans. In 2009, Sankofa portrayed Frederick Douglass in Leeds, England, during commemoration of Douglass’s 150th anniversary stay in that city.
His award-winning storybook, The Origin of Life on Earth: an African Creation Myth (1991), was adapted as dance-theater by Ashe`of New Orleans, and is performed nationally. The Rebellion of Humans: an African Creation Myth (1991), and Kwanzaa: an Everyday Resource and Instructional Guide, (1992) were written in response to teachers seeking to create multicultural learning environments.
He is a contributor to Jump Up and Say: a Collection of Black Storytelling, by Linda and Clay Goss, and to Javaka Steptoe’s In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall. Sankofa’s photography complemented a 2000 storytelling residency at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh, PA. His essay, “Under What Name Shall We Collect Our Identity?” introduces Images “Afro-Rochester” 1910-1935, Rochester Museum & Science Center’s testament to a proud African American community.
David A. Anderson is Chairman, Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission, and Community Scholar in Residence, Nazareth College, Rochester. He has also taught African American Studies?at Rochester area colleges. In 1975, David A. Anderson, earned a Ph.D., in Educational Administration from Union Institute, Cincinnati.
Phouthasome, a child recently, from Southeast Asia, found Sankofa’s stories like the “taste of sweet rice cakes.”
Telephone: 585-389-5140, or 585-482-5192 (Nazareh College)
P.O. 181 Royleston Road,?Rochester, New York 14609?
You can learn more at:
and at http://www.akwaabatours.org