WHAT'S IN A NAME
In a recent post to a Facebook group Diane Regisford shared one of her most recent visual creations. She named the group Nyéléni Gratitude.
I in my insatiable curiosity needed to know the meaning behind Nyéléni. Several sources attach the name to a carved wooden female figure that characterizes the ideal in feminine youthful beauty. The figures are said to have been used as part of traditional male initiation ceremonies. Most recently the name has been adopted by The International Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty, who claim that the name is also attached to a malian legend.
Nyéléni was a woman and a farmer from Mali, whose existence has been passed on through the African oral tradition. According to oral history,she surpassed all others in her ability to farm, introduced new methods and developed new crops.She symbolizes innovation, hard work, and caring for her people. Due to this, she has become the international symbol of Food Sovereignty.
According to the story Nyéléni was from the region of Segou in Mali. She was the only child of Nianso and Saucra, and as she was a girl her parents were ridiculed. She secretly resolved to remove this slur that men had cast on her by defeating them on their own ground, agriculture and the work of the land.Nyéléni took part in farming competitions and defeated all the champions with the best reputation in her village and in the surrounding region. The more arrogant men would challenge her, day after day, and to their disgrace they were all defeated.
Nyéléni’s reputation grew beyond the limits of her region and she became a living legend. The story also says that it was at the beginning of winter, which is the rainy season in Mali, that she domesticated fonio (hungry rice) and samio, cereals that are traditionally eaten nowadays in Mali.
(artist +activist) uses his/her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary