MARIGOT--A final year class from Collège Mont des Accords held a book presentation on Thursday, to highlight a year-long storytelling project, the recipient of which was revered writer and poet, Lasana Sekou.
The project conceived by English teacher Jaqueline Hamlet-Lubino culminated in publication of the book “Tell Me a Story”, a collection of “nansi” stories written by the students.
“Nansi”, Hamlet-Lubino explained, originated in West Africa and in the Caribbean refers to animals talking to each other. A central character in story-telling is an “intelligent but vicious and cunning” spider, but other animals such as rabbits, monkeys and mongoose etc. also feature. The word is also used in a rebuke; “Oh, stop your nansi stories,” meaning stop making up or inventing things.
“I chose nansi stories because there is a moral at the end of each story,” she said. “I also wanted to work on violence and storytelling is a good way to show that not always the biggest and strongest will win; often it is the smallest and cleverest who wins.”
The book is divided into four chapters each one a separate story. Students in the class collaborated on the writing of each story and are mentioned in the credits.
Inspiration for “Tell Me a Story” came from Joselyne Arnel’s children’s book “Ignacio and the Mysterious Egg” and used as a warm-up.
Hamlet-Lubino added she edited the text as little as possible, ensuring the creativity and St. Martin English used came from the students themselves.
“The illustrations were done by the students in collaboration with art teacher Nadine Ducrocq. In all the stories we used St. Martin’s culture and heritage as themes, and we chose Lasana Sekou to present the book to and give him an award as we always use his work as the basis of literature.”
An integral contributor to the project was teacher Lenny Mussington who coached the students on the art of storytelling. He also received a copy of the book.
Bouquets of flowers were presented to Joselyne Arnel, Nadine Ducrocq, Makiba Lewest-Lochus, the mother of one of the authors and who features on the book cover wearing a traditional straw bonnet and frock, as well as other contributors to the project.
In thanking the students for the book and award, Lasana said: “Languages for at least a hundred years has been an elemental part of our culture. We have always embraced various languages. I want you to keep writing and telling stories, but remember you can write the story in different languages too because it is part of our heritage.”
Following the presentation to Lasana, the authors assumed the characters in the stories, reading out sections of the book for the audience.
Before the close of the ceremony the audience engaged in a question and answer session with Lasana.