Somersfield students learn African culture
The impact of Africans on world culture was celebrated as a primary school marked the end of Black History Month yesterday.
Somersfield Academy pupils got the chance to examine two elaborate bronze statuettes from Benin City in Nigeria and heard about people of African descent who have made their mark on a global scale.
Those featured ranged from Brazilian football superstar Pelé to home-grown Sir John Swan, the island’s longest-serving premier and elder statesman.
Gabriella Gasaatura, 8, a Primary 3 pupil at the Devonshire school, said that the exhibit coincided with their International Day where they learnt about different cultures around the world.
She added that part of the experience was practice in how to spell her name in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Gabriella said: “My class was given a little table that had English letters and the hieroglyphics that they translate to.
“So I would write my name on paper and then under it I’d put all the hieroglyphics that spell my name.”
Gabriella, from St George’s Parish, also read about the life of Mary Prince, a former enslaved Bermudian, whose account of her experiences helped fuel the abolitionist movement in Britain, and Harriet Tubman, who led enslaved American black people to freedom along the Underground Railroad.
She added that her favourite story was Henry’s Freedom Box, a fictional tale about a young man who mailed himself to liberation in the US.
Gabriella explained: “He poured hot, hot oil on his wrist and went to his master and said: ‘I need a break today’. Then he built a box and got shipped to the North to freedom.”
She said that the stories helped her to understand how other people’s families were brought to Bermuda.
Gabriella explained her family moved from Africa to Bermuda when she was a baby.
She added: “I’m of East African descent and a lot of slaves were of West African descent.”
Gabriella said her own family had moved of its own free will.
She added: “Other people did not come here of their own will and they were forced to work.”
Syah Pedro, 7, said that his classes over Black History Month had focused on civil-rights movements in the US and Bermuda.
He added that the experience had taught him about racism and segregation at the time.
Syah said that he read about the life of black people who fought for their liberation, including Robert Smalls, an enslaved American and expert seaman, who commandeered a proslavery Confederate ship and used it to sail his crew members and their families, also enslaved, to freedom in the north.
He said: “It’s interesting because he dressed up as a sailor and tricked the Confederates.”
The sculptures were lent to the school by Dusty Hind, the curator of the Crisson&Hind African art gallery on Front Street, Hamilton.
Bernadette Tucker, a Somersfield teacher who co-ordinated the event, said that it was important to highlight all sides of the African diaspora.
She explained: “Most people feature the United States and Harriet Tubman, or they would just do Africa, so we were trying to ensure that we did not just feature one continent, but showed the diaspora moving from one place to another.
“So every time we do this, we try to show black history across the world, not just in one continent.”
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