Liana Nanang and Ajala Omodele have launched ‘Unchained on the Rock,’ a new initiative that “chronicles narratives of Black liberation” and offers “talks, tours, workshops, and educational curriculum consulting.”
A spokesperson said, “Unchained on the Rock, a Bermuda-based initiative that chronicles narratives of Black liberation and resistance throughout the Atlantic Basin, has launched its offerings in time for Black History Month.
“Named in honour of ‘Chained on the Rock’, the seminal work by Bermudian scholar Cyril Outerbridge Packwood, Unchained on the Rock offers talks, tours, workshops, and educational curriculum consulting.
“The programming is delivered by Liana Nanang and Ajala Omodele, Bermudian storytellers who lead Unstoried, a multimedia entertainment studio that empowers and educates People of the Global Majority [aka People of Colour].
Unchained on the Rock presenters Ajala Omodele and Liana Nanang. Photo courtesy of Nicola Muirhead
“Sessions range from one hour to a full day. They can be delivered on clients’ premises or at outdoor and indoor sites around the island. Available topics include “Uprising: Black Protest & Resistance in Bermuda”, “They Called Him Roose” named after Mr Omodele’s book about Bermuda National Hero Pauulu Kamarakafego, “Beyond Seascapes: Black Art in Bermuda”, and “A Tale of Two Lawyers”, focusing on Jamaican barrister Matthew Spencer-Joseph and the late lawyer and MP Julian Hall, father of Ms. Nanang. Further topics can be found in Unchained’s information pack, available on its website www.unchainedontherock.com.
“Mr Omodele is an educator, writer, poet, and lecturer. He is the author of ‘Dame Lois: The People’s Advocate’, ‘They Called Him Roose’ and ‘Look for Me in the Whirlwind: A Story of Marcus Garvey’. Holding a master’s degree in education, Mr Omodele has taught at the primary and middle school level and designed and delivered a graduate-level course at York University.
“He has conducted professional development seminars on Black history for Bermuda’s educators and featured as a speaker for Oxford University’s Race & Resistance Conference and ThinkFest. He has been featured in a variety of international documentaries, has been interviewed by Forbes and several of his poems have been published in MOKO: Caribbean Arts and Letters. His poem, entitled ‘the crossing [aka why I don’t like tall ships]’ was selected for inclusion in the 2022 Bermuda National Gallery Biennial.”
Mr Omodele says, “I see the study of African history as both a map and mirror that simultaneously shows us where we have been, where we are and where we can go, while reflecting our limitless capacity for courage, creativity and greatness. For the past few years, Liana and I have been working on melding our talents and knowledge and I’m excited to formally introduce our offerings.”
The spokesperson said, “Ms Nanang is a multidisciplinary storyteller whose work navigates race, nationality, trauma, resilience, spirituality, colonialism, and her identity as a neurodivergent woman of colour. Liana’s writing and photography have featured in The New York Times, and she has been interviewed by Forbes, the UK’s BBC Breakfast and BBC World News.
“She won Best Columnist in the 2017 Best of Bermuda Awards and was awarded Use of Materials in the 2021 Charman Prize at Masterworks Museum. Ms Nanang obtained a law degree from University College London and is a New York-qualified attorney. Both her visual art and poetry were selected for the 2022 Bermuda National Gallery Biennial.
“Ms Nanang is a seasoned PR strategist who spent several years leading a communications and content development firm, working with multinational corporations, political campaigns, non-profits, and public sector agencies. Her first book for adult readers will be published internationally in August 2024.”
Ms Nanang says, “While Black History Month is not officially celebrated in Bermuda, several companies have reached out to us to request talks in recognition. Consequently, we felt that February was the perfect month to launch our initiative. With support from the Bermuda Arts Council, we attended the Rock Retreat – a week-long writers’ intensive – in Gibraltar last May, where we further developed our storytelling skills and knowledge.
“Following the murder of George Floyd, global interest in learning authentic Black history as a bridge to justice and equity piqued but has since waned. Ajala and I have been lifelong students of Black Bermudian history and we feel it important that our stories continue to be told.”
The spokesperson said, “All talks and tours include Q&A. Workshops are tailored for the audience, providing a more interactive engagement. Interested organisations are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest and obtain a quote. Pricing starts at $1,000 with discounted rates available for non-profit groups.”