Monday, August 11, 2008

Will the real queen please stand up?!!

When last did you meet a queen? Sure, we know of queens in folklore and fables, and in mythical tales told in dreamspaces, too often reserved for children. In history, we’ve also heard of conquering lionesses - from Nanny of the Maroons of Jamaica to Nana Yaa Asantewaa of the Ashanti nation in Ghana. Both are renowned queens; women who led their people to conquer mighty powers, their prowess and virtues remain poignant affirmations as we celebrate them as national heroes. But, when last did you meet a real-life queen?

As we pause for breath after Emancipendence celebrations in Jamaica, we remember and honour our ancestors who fought and won liberation struggles of the past. Across the Caribbean and the African Diaspora, our recognition of Emancipation Day (August 1) offers us an opportunity to celebrate yes, and also, in the jubilation take time to reflect, define and engage a renewed sense of liberation.

Though we could probably count the number of documented and celebrated female warriors of fame and stature on one hand, we know that the unsung heroines of our past continue to serve in quiet accomplishment. Also queens, their crowns are often intangible and their works, indefatigable.

As for real-life queens, in our urban, cosmopolitan realities, we now talk of dancehall queens and even male queens. Somehow, the respected status of the queen mother is now veering towards media driven superficiality quashing any notion of serving a community.

Take the Rain Queens of the Modjadji female dynasty who have reigned over six generations, originating in Zimbabwe and then in Limpopo, South Africa. Amongst their other duties, the Rain Queens are revered for their ability to invoke nourishing rain showers especially in times of drought and hardship.

In her 2008, Emancipation Day message, Leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller notes how Jamaica is suffering from the global impact of soaring prices of basic consumer goods. She says; “rain a fall but dutty tough” and calls for action. MP Simpson Miller goes on to say that by building families and strong communities we can create abundant futures.

Rain is a powerful life force that symbolically parallels the significant works of service offered by us women, the real-life queens in our communities. Inherently, women are incubators, nurturers, and gatherers. So as you go about your daily activities, consider for a moment what kind of rain queen are you?

170 years after the abolition of the slavery, the emancipation celebrations present important opportunities to consider the meaning of liberation in our current realities.

As women shaping legacy for future generations to inherit, we are all members of communities at home, in our jobs, social groups and the like. Let us proudly reclaim our queenships and fiercely craft stories which create nurturing and dynamic communities for the future.

So, real-life queens step up!!

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