Inspired by stories from the elders in her community – the Ka’lina Terewuyu nation of the Amazon – Caitlin Schaap (Amsterdam Fellowship 2018) wanted to create space for sharing the stories within non-indigenous places and peoples. These stories touch upon transgenerational trauma and coping with collective trauma derived from colonialism. They portray everyday life experiences, and how the Ka’lina Terewuyu people are still surviving in an oppressive system. At the same time, they show how they are still willing to enjoy and celebrate their ways of life authentically. So, in October 2018, Caitlin organized the Akarani Bono Awowa // Amsterdam Dance Event as her Action Project.
“For my aunt to perform, with me telling the stories of my mother and grandmother, gave me a feeling of pride and empowerment.” – Caitlin Schaap (2018 Amsterdam Fellowship).
Together with her aunt, Caitlin sought to combat social injustice by sharing Ka’lina stories with Ka’lina esthetic values. It gave her a feeling of pride and empowerment to tell the stories of her mother and grandmother, while her aunt performed with a full sambura band. Other people from their tribe – who are very strict about how traditions are executed – were as touched by these heartfelt stories: “To see in the older generation recognition of our past and hopes for the future was beautiful.”
With the stories told through her Action Project, Caitlin reached an estimated 300 individuals. Indirectly, her efforts also benefited 500 people of the Ka’lina community. She partnered with Afro grooves to make this project successful. To others who want to organize similar events, Caitlin recommends creating an artistic team that understands your plans. This allows organizers to focus on their own expertise while taking steps to develop their project.