Interviews

Interview with Andrea E. Shaw, Co-organizer, Anancy Festival 2012 Pembroke Pines, Florida

Written by Denise Lee

This week we have a conversation with Andrea E. Shaw Co-organizer Anancy Festival 2012 in Pembroke Pines, Florida. The Anancy festival is June 9th, 2012. Here is our conversation with Andrea.

What Caribbean Country are you from?

Jamaica

Tell us about Anancy Fest 2012 Pembroke Pines, Florida? How did it get started? How did you get involve?

My involvement with Anancy Festival was entirely serendipitous. I had been chatting with my friend Geoffrey Philp and mentioned my interest in becoming more involved in a meaningful community event.  He told me about a reading he’d participated in a couple years back that he thought I might find interesting. He promised to get more information for me. Later that day I was at a fundraiser chatting with my husband’s friend Xavier Murphy (now my friend!), who mentioned some children’s event he had put on a couple years prior and would be interested in re-launching with a co-organizer. Turned out it was the same event Geoffrey had spoken of earlier that day! A few weeks later Xavier and I met, I came up with the name Anancy Festival, and the rest is proverbial history.

What is the main goal of the festival?

To celebrate the Caribbean’s cultural heritage in a manner that will engage kids.

What can we expect this year?

A revamped festival that is going to be spectacular! This year’s event will feel more like  a real festival, with multiple exciting activities going on at the same time. We’ll have a storytelling room sponsored by Western Union, an art and craft room sponsored by Irie Isle Jamaican Restaurant, face painters, balloon artists, a dance workshop, and lots of great performances as usual.

Tell us about this year’s line-up?

We’re pleased to have Joan Andrea Hutchinson on board as our MC for the day. Performers include singer Julien J; Jamaica Folk Revue; and Sierra Norwood Calvary Group. In the storytelling room we’ll have  Geoffrey Philp and Father Easton Lee. Afua Hall will present a dance and lead a dance workshop.

What does Anancy mean to you?

Anancy is the ultimate Caribbean folktale character. He means mischief and laughs and he’s a link to the Caribbean’s history. He is also the good that can arise from suffering. Anancy made that brutal transatlantic  voyage with slaves being sold into bondage in the region, but he is what has risen from the ash of that brutal experience to reconnect us to one element of the Caribbean’s rich cultural legacy.

What does Caribbean American Heritage month mean to you?(for America)

Do you think there is enough being done to pass on Caribbean and African history to the next generation?

The month signals America’s official recognition of the legacy of Caribbean immigrants in the U.S., but in my mind Caribbean American Heritage Month is more about non-Caribbean people legitimizing our presence than it is about us realizing our contributions. There is, however, a great opportunity to share the accomplishments and history of Caribbean nationals in the U.S.

The festival this year is in four cities and growing. Where do you see the festival 5 years from now (main organizer question)?

I’m afraid to say it (because of the massive administrative effort that would be required) but I’d like the festival to become an international event celebrated throughout the Caribbean and its Diaspora. 

What other projects and events are you working on?

I am fulltime faculty at Nova Southeastern University so that takes up a great deal of time. In some moments I’m also a freelance journalist, I’m a creative writer,  and I’m currently working on a book about how the Caribbean is represented as a magical space in literary and popular culture.

When you are not busy with work and projects what do you do to relax?

Relax? What’s that?

My favorite Caribbean author is —-Margaret Cezair Thompson

My comfort food is—-a Jamaican sugar bun—fresh baked!

If I wanted to impress someone visiting my city I would take them to—Irie Isle Jamaican Restaurant!

Thanks for the time. Where can we learn more about the Anancy festival?

Visit our facebook page or website for more information:  http://www.anancyfestival.com or  http://facebook.com/anancyfestival

About the author

Denise Lee