Queen Nanny comes to life

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Monday, October 26, 2015

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THE preservation of culture is of critical importance to the history of a people.


That was one of the overarching themes which came out of Roy T Anderson's documentary Queen Nanny Legendary Maroon Chieftainess, which premiered at the University of the West Indies last Friday.


Anderson, who was unavoidably absent, working his day job as a Hollywood stuntman, was represented by his wife Allison, who is the project's co-producer.


She told a packed lecture theatre that it was their vision to share the strong story with the world and bring under-represented cultures to the fore. She disclosed that the United Nations has made contact for the documentary to be used as a teaching tool globally.


The documentary introduces the legendary Maroon warrior and tackles some of the questions which have existed about Jamaica's only National Heroine.


Long-standing issues such as: Did Nanny really exist or is she just a folk tale?; What did she actually look like?; Her ability to stop bullets with her rear end; Where in Africa was she from?; and the value of oral history verses documented history; are all part and parcel of Anderson's work.


Through interviews with a wide cross-section of authority figures in Jamaica, the United States, and Africa, Anderson is able to bring into sharp focus the work and worth of Nanny.


Running alongside the portrait of the Maroon leader is an eye-opening visit with present-day Maroons, who have worked hard to protect and value their history and legacy. To hear a Maroon elder speak their native language is a powerful point in the documentary.


The production also includes footage from a 14-hour hike to Old Nanny Town, deep in the Blue and John Crow mountains, which interestingly was recently named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


This work by Anderson follows his debut project Akwantu, which traced his personal Maroon and African heritage while showcasing the value of Jamaicans and other such cultures telling our stories. It places a value on our heritage and highlights some aspects of our rich cultural heritage that is often undervalued.


Anderson and his team can take a bow for their work on Queen Nanny Legendary Maroon Chieftainess, and especially Jamaicans can learn a thing or two about this 'warrior woman' from this production.



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