African Caribbean Institute Focuses on Storytelling for Black History Month

We are aware of the legacy of the oral tradition that Jamaica inherited from West Africa. Unfortunately, the storytelling tradition is often only wheeled out on special occasions and for cultural events, with only a handful of practitioners keeping the tradition alive. I recently heard renowned actor Oliver Samuels talking about his childhood in St. Mary, on receiving his Living Legacy Award from the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons. He specifically mentioned Friday evening poetry recitals and storytelling sessions with other children on the estate where he grew up, and how much they influenced him.

In February, we celebrate Black History Month (alongside Reggae Month, with a strong focus on our African heritage) – having really adopted the American tradition. And, indeed, there are so many stories to tell…

ACIJ/JMB Hosts Lecture Series and Presentation on Afro-Jamaican Storytelling

February 2, 2021. (Kingston, Jamaica):- The African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB) will be hosting a series of lectures and a presentation on Storytelling under the theme Jack Mandora: The Roots of Afro-Jamaican Storytelling as an Element of Intangible Cultural Heritage” for Reggae MonthDr. Amina Blackwood-Meeks, College Orator, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, will be delivering the first lecture titled “Storytelling: As Tangible as Jerusalem School-Room” on Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. on the ACIJ/JMB YouTube platform. Here’s the link.

Dr. Amina Blackwood-Meeks.

Dr. Blackwood-Meeks’ lecture will examine the relevance of storytelling in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant culture shock due to mental health and well-being dislocations. She will examine the perceptions of Jamaicans in regard to storytelling and our willingness to value it as a source and resource available for our reconstruction. She will also throw light on how storytelling can advance the “emancipation of the mind”.

Next on the agenda is a live YouTube lecture on Storytelling by Ms. Kesia Weise, Acting Senior Research Fellow, ACIJ/JMB on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. This will be followed by a live YouTube lecture on Storytelling by Professor Emeritus John Ayotunde Bewaji, University of the West Indies, on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

The lecture series will close with a conversation with Dr. Jean Small, retired teacher and storyteller, on her involvement with storytelling. This will be aired on ACIJ/JMB’s social media platforms on February 26, 2021.

The mandate of the ACIJ/JMB is to research, document, and disseminate information on African heritage and its impact on Jamaican culture. The division highlights the contribution of African cultural retentions to Jamaican belief systems to instill awareness and appreciation of African culture as a part of Jamaican heritage.

The ACIJ/JMB is a division of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport.  

For further information, please contact: Mr. Bernard Jankee, Director, African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB). Telephone: (876)922-7415/4793. Email: 



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