Interviews

Interview with Monica Foderingham and Sharon Robinson, Organizers, Anancy Festival Atlanta

Written by Denise Lee

This week we have a conversation with  Monica Foderingham and Sharon Robinson, organizers, Anancy Festival Atlanta. The Anancy festival in Atlanta is on June 15th, 2013. Here is our conversation with  Monica Foderingham and Sharon Robinson.

Where are you from?
Sharon Robinson (SER) – Harlem, NY (of Jamaican Heritage) ;
Monica Foderingham (MF) – Mandeville, Manchester  Jamaica

Tell us about Anancy Fest 2013 Atlanta? How did it get started? How did you get involved?
(MF): I wanted to incorporate a youth program component which included storytelling as part of the celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month at the Central Library. In 2012 I planned a Caribbean Storytelling Festival, and then we subsequently heard about the Anancy Festival via email. We thought this would be a natural fit, so SER met with Xavier Murphy to introduce herself, MF , the Atlanta Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS) and the program idea to him. The proposal was accepted by the festival directors, and Atlanta became one of the participating cities beginning in 2013.

What is the main goal of the festival?
To expose more children and adults to anancy stories and other aspects of Caribbean culture and history.
What can we expect this year?
Connie Witter of Jamaica and Brenda Chee Wah of Trinidad and Tobago will be the adult storytellers. There will also be youth storytellers called the ‘Tattletales’ from the Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia. An animated film about Anancy will be screened by the filmmaker Andrew Davies; and art and craft activities will be provided for all ages. Each youth attendee at the festival will receive a gift bag and an Anancy storybook through a generous grant from the Atlanta Fulton Public Library Foundation.

What does Anancy mean to you?
MF: As the AFPL Anancy Festival tagline, “My Anancy, Your Anansi, Our Ananse!” suggests, anancy stories are universal. Anancy stories were a part of the soundtrack of my childhood growing up in Jamaica, and I want to pass that on to my children and subsequent generations. SER: As a young person with Southern roots growing up in NYC, trickster stories were always shared by my parents to teach life lessons. The trickster character was usually a spider, and I shared that with my own children and hope that they will share it with their children.

What does Caribbean American Heritage Month mean to you?
CAHM celebrates the impact of Caribbean culture on US culture. This covers music, literature, visual arts, politics, film, and food among others. CAHM also recognizes the important contributions people of Caribbean Heritage have made to the development of the United States.

Do you think there is enough being done to pass on Caribbean and African history to the next generation?
The main aim of CAHM programs initiated by the Central Library and the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta is to do just that. Auburn Avenue Research Library (AARL) does African diaspora related programming year round.

The festival this year is in seven cities and growing. Where do you see the festival 5 years from now?
We see it becoming an annual event celebrating Caribbean American Heritage Month for youth, and adults who grew up hearing anancy stories. We also see it growing each year as word spreads about it.

What other projects and events are you working on?
SER: In observance of CAHM, the AARL is presenting a photographic exhibit entitled ‘Smile Haiti!’ by Shaina Oliphant. MF: The 6th Annual Caribbean Film Festival which showcases 7 films from 5 countries in 5 days; and ‘Celebrate Caribbean Authors’ which will showcase local and regional Caribbean authors.

When you are not busy with work and projects what do you do to relax?
SER: Gardening, reading and watching television.
MF: Reading, watching  television, spending quality time with family.

My favorite Caribbean author is —-
SER-Elizabeth Nunez
MF-Anthony Winkler.

My comfort food is—-
SER: Okra and saltfish with ground provisions
MF: Roast breadfruit with ackee and saltfish.

If I wanted to impress someone visiting my city I would take them to—
SER: Sweet Auburn Historic District including the King Center, APEX Museum and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
MF: Dekalb Farmers Market.

Thanks for the time. Where can we learn more about the Anancy festival?
Visit the Atlanta Fulton Public Library  website to learn more about the Anancy Festival and other programs presented for Caribbean American Heritage Month.
Anancy Festival Atlanta
Date: Saturday June 15, 2013
Time: 2:00-5:30 PM
Location: Central Library, Lower Level Auditorium and Alcove
Address: 1 Margaret Mitchell Square at the corner of Forsyth Street and Carnegie Way, Atlanta, GA 30303-2513 (Downtown Atlanta). For GPS and Mapquest purposes, use 126 Carnegie Way, Atlanta 30303.
Admission: Free and open to the public.
Go to AnancyFestival.com, http://facebook.com/anancyfestival and Jamaicans.com for information .

About the author

Denise Lee