Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Why aren’t we Ghanaians given the right dues for the part our ancestors played in the Burial Ground in Manhattan??

I think…I might have mentioned the African Burial Ground located in Manhattan, New York briefly but as we go into the new year….I want to reclaim all that’s rightfully mine and Ghanaian… Also, I’m pissed that every time this significant location is mentioned -they omit the huge part that our [Ghanaian] ancestors played in this burial ground -and we all know how Ghanaians feel about funerals and burials..

When I first heard about the burial of numerous Africans found in coffins with our Adinkra symbols all over them many moons ago -I vowed to find out more,-and I did over time. And whilst at first when you googled, ‘African Burial Ground’ -you’d see stuff about the Adinkra symbols, or the Africans from the Gold Coast or stuff about the Akans of West Africa -in relation to this scared burial ground, ..over time -news about the grounds link to the people of Ghana begun to disappear and in its place was what I can only describe as, ‘Africanism’ -that fabled Afro-centric thing that African Americans sometimes do with Africa -when they get lazy and mix-us all up together and get ROOTS -making it less authentic but no less emotive…if you know what I mean???

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I love this piece of art by Frank Bender entitled, ‘Unearthed’ -the faces and features look all so familiar… The following is more info about this emotive piece of art.

Artist: Frank Bender

Commissioned: 2002
Installed: 2003

Finished bronze with patina

Location: Ted Weiss Federal Building
290 Broadway
New York City

About the Artist:
Frank Bender is a world renowned sculptor, known for his work on forensic facial identifications, fugitive age progressions and fine art. His studio is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

About the Work of Art: (comments by the artist)
At the W. Montague Cobb Laboratory at Howard University, I held the eldest woman's scull in my hands and felt that she had endured the most. The younger woman with the bandana had been shot in the back. The young man in the background, the youngest and tallest of the three, is rising for the hope-filled future.

Unearthed, an integrated spirit, they chose me. I was naturally drown to these three personalities.

I pulled on my 24 years of forensic involvement in identifying human remains and my passion for art and felt that through three hands joined together in the earth that I would be able to convey my idea that we are all one in death.

These three were selected from the hundreds of human remains discovered in an African Burial Ground in New York City in 1991.

I was deeply moved by the unique opportunity this project afforded me to combine the use of my forensic skills and fine art skills to unearth the history told by these human remains.

Special thanks to: the General Services Administration and the British Broadcasting Company for the funding and support provided for this project, and to Howard University for their technical assistance. Credit:

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