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The Legend of Nana Yaa (Proposal)

Eshu through My Fingers

I was a slave. They branded me,

marched me in shackles to the sea,

sent me in chains across the water –

horrors I only half remember

in dreams and visions from Eshu

who finally told me what to do:

tell the story, pass it on.

Make the awful mystery known.

Give it poetry, plot, and color.

Teach the youngsters the old horror

that happened not to me alone

or to one generation

but a whole people. What to do?

Tell the story, says Eshu

through dreams and visions. Pass it on.

Make the awful mystery known.

My instructions are a start:

yours are the vision and the art.

-Rachel Hadas

The Legend of Nana Yaa, an animated feature film set in 1742, shows how the West African deities got to the New World with the slaves. It interprets the realities of the slave trade in West Africa through the eyes of a young Ashanti girl who suddenly becomes a freedom fighter when her family and village are enslaved. The film will show how faith, practice, and ritual were part of the fabric of life in the Ashanti Kingdom and how their ideals are destroyed by slavery. The story of slavery cannot be repeated enough. What was life like in Africa? What gave brutalized and exiled Africans the resilience to continue fighting against slavery and injustice? What was the place of deities like Shango, Yemaya, Eshu, and others in the process? Where is the story of African resistance? How does one include hope and liberation in a story about enslavement and despair?

For more information, to see Film Summary, Synopsis, Treatment, or Script please email

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