“I remember as a child in Jamaica the elders would gather around, especially on a full moon night, singing songs and tell stories to all the children”
Janet was born in April, of 1966 in the parish of St. Catherine in the talent factory of Jamaica. Janet’s mother, like most Caribbean mothers, left Janet and her brother with their grandparents in Jamaica to pursue a better life abroad. This decision would shape Janet’s story and her relationship with words.
“I still have vivid memories of living with my grandparents. My papa was a fisherman and my Granny rode her bicycle selling the fish Papa caught to residents in the neighbouring communities. The best part of living with Papa and Granny was story time. Storytelling was our nightly ritual, and for me it was even more special on the nights when the moon was full. Papa would send to call the children in the neighbourhood; their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles would also come along. Papa started all the stories with “cry cry baby, moon shine darling take off your shoe and go to your bed.” The stories were magical, funny and sometimes scary, yet I enjoyed all of them. I would enter the world of those stories, get lost in my imagination and indulge my curiosty. At the end of story time the children would look up at the moon and yell out “I can see the face in the moon!”
Janet would migrate to Canada to join her mother at the age of eleven; however, her time with Granny and Papa was filled with stories and connection. Build on this connection, Janet has carried the art of storytelling and sharing folktales into her own life. This passion grew to concern when she moved away from that community in St. Catherine to Canada and saw that the oral tradition was dying.
“My mother was busy providing for us; she was working two jobs to make ends meet, hence there was no time to spend with my brother and me. I remember on a few Saturday evenings my mother would try to recall Papa’s stories. She would forget the stories and that’s when I became the storyteller. I would switch roles with her telling Papa’s stories to her and my brother. It took some time but I slowly realized that I am a storyteller and that Papa had prepared me to be just that. I am consciously aware now that Papa knew he was leaving a tradition with me to carry on. Retelling stories to my Papa, adding to the stories, and asking Papa every day to tell me a story was indeed rehearsal. The feeling that those stories were never enough and my wishes for different endings lead to me creating my own stories.”
Janet started by telling stories to her children which grew into her telling stories to their friends. Her children and their friends loved story time with Janet so much that soon she was telling stories at her children’s school. Janet has been performing at schools and community events for quite a number of years and is the owner of Nanni’s Natural Hair Salon. She has called Canada home for almost thirty years. Janet’s first book “Kafiya Meets The Moon” published by Mascot Books can be purchased directly from the online store on this website.