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Stepping Sisters

In 2021, I held a series of one on one conversations with eight people across the city in different green spaces that were meaningful for them in some way; from the expanses of Eastville Park to the pocket of reclaimed community space named Dove Gardens in Kingsdown – creating podcasts and working in collaboration with local poet, Kabbo Ferdinand, to creatively interpret these same interviews into written and spoken word pieces.

Stepping Sisters, written by //Kabbo Hue Qua

Stepping Sisters

this is my life

natures our carer

stirring up happiness inside

walking cause it matters

walking in these green spaces

for it’s my right

walking past all these strangers

strangely, never seen a face

hued like mine

like nature belonged to

the rich and white farmers, only

never a hue like mine

a change was needed so I

invited my Nubian Queens out

now we face down the stares

from the classes to right, middle

and left, together

in nature

we calm, strong and proud

I’ve been a walker

since a child, taught me

just a little courage has us

walking past our fears

of belonging even

when the chips are down

we’ve been walking

and walking and walking

walking before there were cars

walking for our freedom

walking for our lives

walking for equality

walking for justice,

walking for our liberty

walking through all of time

fighting the MAN, fighting the system

Step up Stepping Sister

Step Up! Knowing

I embraced myself

Had too, choice removed

some of the memories

of the past, haunting

as soon as Roots dropped

onto the black box

the name calling rung out

hurtfully, painful

furnacing spiteful rhetoric

Kissy, Chalkie, slave girl

dem’ white boys screamed

chop off Kunta Kinte’s feet

the slave master called

that will teach him

stop him from walking away

yet knowing without knowing

nature always soothed

the hue, the me

for my nature in nature

is my nature

and this is all I know

My kinfolk,

now and always been

the drivers of industry

driving, seemingly upwardly mobile

or so it seems

from picking cotton to

fake nails, high heels and

slick weaves

forgetfully, forgetting

our roots form crowns

disconnected and schooled

like low hanging fruit

not catching enough rays

lest we forget

so many drowned

Something’s stirring

needed doing I felt

wrecked my brains on a

walkabout

an idea popped,  

right

into my head,

left

my mind stirring,

up

why not start my own group?

and let the queens

decide for themselves,

down

with the rumours, whispering

and empty stares,

full up! full up!! full up!!!

we walking now!

ankles hurting and all

At first

felt like a risk

must have been

the fear of the unknown,

fear of the wild

maybe suppressed memories

of our runaway days

the real fear of the livestock,

even of the mooing cows

never sure if the feisty bulls

were to mow us down

yet, we stuck at it,

hips, knees, feet on ground

one in front of the other

pushed past our fears

always moving forward

now people recognise us

knowing we’re not to be feared

coming unstuck from

the cultural inertia

imposed by city life drear

My childhood nostalgia awoken

I remember drew me closer

as I got older, blood flowing

fresh air stimulating good vibrations

even when walking alone,

on my own disconnecting

whilst reconnecting to the land

awakened my intuition

healing sights and sounds

one of the few things

I truly trust

for I refuse to be

like a tree without roots

Nature’s my solace

when my spirits are low

or have been indoors to long

my remedy, my pickup, my home

walking comes natural to me

love

the detoxing air in my lungs

freshen up my mind

body and soul revitalise

all the remedies nature provide

is all that I and we need

I believe,

bring me the turmeric and chamomile

pour me a cuppa and watch

the tension subside

like a spaced out herbalist

as natural as you like

Bristolians, you and me,

we blessed

we have so many green spaces

and woodlands around

come see me and my sisters

and we’ll show you about

lead the way or follow

it’s all the same

the more the merrier

on any given day

watch out!

you’ll see us stepping,

in every possible way

positive energetic vibrations

in nature, embrace the healing

let’s learn, share and keep each other safe

I’m a Stepping Sister and Sonia

is my name

Stepping Sisters

this is my life

natures our carer

stirring up happiness inside

walking cause it matters

walking in these green spaces

for it’s my right

walking past all these strangers

strangely, never seen a face

hued like mine

like nature belonged to

the rich and white farmers, only

never a hue like mine

a change was needed so I

invited my Nubian Queens out

now we face down the stares

from the classes to right, middle

and left, together

in nature

we calm, strong and proud

I’ve been a walker

since a child, taught me

just a little courage has us

walking past our fears

of belonging even

when the chips are down

we’ve been walking

and walking and walking

walking before there were cars

walking for our freedom

walking for our lives

walking for equality

walking for justice,

walking for our liberty

walking through all of time

fighting the MAN, fighting the system

written by //Kabbo Hue Qua

Read more about the Park Lives project and listen to the podcasts here.