Tribute to JANUKA by Pauleene Hammett

I first met Beverley, your group co-ordinator, in 1976 when we trained together to become midwife teachers at the Royal College of Midwives. After a 7-year career break, we reunited and worked together in midwifery education for the next 20 years!!

I first became aware of Januka in 2005 as Beverley started to talk about Quadrille dancing to me, but I don’t think I really understood the concepts behind the dance.

This all changed in May 2007. Beverley was our Midwifery and Women’s Health Department equality and diversity adviser and champion, representing us within Kings College London (KCL).

As 2007 was the bicentenary of the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1807, Beverley and Januka planned an event to mark this important date. The evening was called “The Will to Survive : The Transatlantic Slave Trade”, and was held on May the Great Hall- Strand Campus KCL. It was a unique evening of dance, music and talks.

Januka put a huge amount of work into making the event a great success and I think it provided a turning point for the group. To all of us present the message Januka gave us was vibrant and clear. We were shown how the dance evolved from Ballroom to Camp Style, becoming a symbol of the African slaves’ wisdom, free spiritedness and will to survive. Although forbidden to dance Quadrille (perceived as being disrespectful) and often punished for dancing Quadrille, they cleverly and defiantly used the dance as a way of communication and merrymaking in their Camps.

For me, the colours of your costumes are particularly important representing the Jamaican flag- Black, Green and Gold signifying: ‘hardships there are; but the grass is green and the sun shineth’ These last thoughts I have learned to use in my own life to help me cope when facing the difficulties the last few years have brought me.

You are an amazing group of women who work incredibly hard to demonstrate your historical and cultural heritage. The professionalism you show is outstanding and it is of no surprise to me that many more people and organisations want to book Januka.

I am indeed honoured to be a friend of Januka and look forward to many more years of supporting you in any way I can.

From: Pauleene Hammett

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