Anansesem: Telling Stories and Storytelling African Maternal Pedagogies


Price: $19.95

Page Count: 150

Publication Date: March 2015

ISBN: 978-1-927335-19-2

Anansesem: Telling Stories and Storytelling African Maternal Pedagogies is a composite story on African Canadian mothers’ experiences of teaching and learning while mothering. It seeks to celebrate the African mother’s everyday experiences and honor her embodied and cultural knowledge as important sites of meaning making and discovery for the African child. Through the Afro-indigenous art of Anansi storytelling, memoir, creative non-fiction and illustrations, the author takes you on an evocative narrative journey that focuses on how African descended women draw upon and are central to African childrens’ cultural, social and identity development. In entering these stories, readers access their joys, sadness, strengths and weaknesses as they mother in the midst of marginalization. The book is a testament to the power of counter-storytelling for inspiring internal and external transformation.

“Hallelujah! Finally! One of our “babies” has used the language and the euro-cen-tric dominated system of the academy to document, re-validate, and reassure African descendant parents in Canada, about the “rightness” of our parenting! Anans-esem reiterates what sister/sistah/granny/aunty/uncle/father/brother/ community Mothers of African-descendant children have been “doing”: it extrapolates the “knowing and doing” of our ancestors—free or oppressed, who used art forms as “cultural instruction” for thriving. Onuora is undoubtedly a product of “cultural genetics”: she knows, genetically and culturally! Everyone who believes in the equality of all peoples must read this. Anansesem is unequivocal about the essentiality of using cultural forms in the making of a person. She is right—our children’s “thrive barometer” is elevated by strategies that build “cultural, social and identity consciousness”: their “African Selfhood”; their “Being”. Peaceful Resistance! Survival! Possibility!”
—Joan Grant Cummings, parent, Black feminist activist, 2015

“Readers put your hands together for Adwoa Onuora’s book which shines the spotlight on those Knowledge Creators who are seldom in the light: Mothers, Afro-origin mothers; the Village it takes to raise a child; Storytellers and Artists. Adwoa’s book is Soul-affirming and Fun.”
—Rita Shelton Deverell, theatre artist, media producer, co-founder of Vision TV, and Adjunct Professor of Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University

Prologue 1
Note to Readers 13
Chapter 1: Pedagogies of the Spirit 17
Tell Me a Story 19
Webbed Toes and Fingers 24
Nine-Night 27
Chapter 2: It Takes a Village of Mammas 33
Anancy and Him Story 35
Sweet Shop 40
Washday 46
Chapter 3: Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Nappy Hair: Epistemologies of Beauty 53
Nuttin Weh Too Black Nuh Good 55
The Erace(ing): Trapped in a Pigmentory Prison 61
Silky Straight 64
Chapter 4: The M(other) in the Mirror 67
(Im)Polite Violence 69
Bending Gender 77
Killing me Softly 81
Chapter 5: I Feel Therefore I Can … (be)long 87
Anancy and Common Sense 89
In My Mamma’s House 95
I’m a Black Girl 100
Epilogue: Narrative “Matters” 105
herstory is ourstory:
The Narrative of My Method 107
Glossary of Words 121
Adinkra Symbols: Their Meaning and Significance 122
Bibliography 124

Adwoa Ntozake Onuora received her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education. A feminist mother, she lives in Toronto with her four year old daughter. Her work primarily focuses on using narrative representation and Afro-indigenous folk storytelling to explore the intersections and impact of gender, sexuality/sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, class and culture on African women’s lived experiences.