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Insights into Listening to Ancestors within the Circularity of Time

  • Article
  • PHI Foundation
By  Pohanna Pyne Feinberg  &  Jahsun Promesse

This essay is part of a co-creation project led by Pohanna Pyne Feinberg and the PHI Foundation Education Team in collaboration with special guest Jahsun Promesse. The co-creation project also includes a video capsule that we invite you to consult as a complement to this essay.

Theme: Listening

In Larry Achiampong’s exhibition, entitled Relic Traveller: Where You and I Come From We Know That We Are Not Here Forever, we encounter children and adults who are uniformed representatives of a future version of the Pan-African Union. The mission of the Relic Travellers is to explore the past while listening to ancestral memories that are held and conveyed by human-made and naturally occurring relics, such as heritage sites and shells. The act of listening is integral to the healing process that will enable a prosperous path forward for the Pan-African Union.

It is an act of compassion to listen to personal testimonies of those who came before us, particularly if they are sharing stories that were oppressed, silenced or ignored. Relic travellers are trusted with caring for and then sharing these memories. They understand that it is an honour to be selected to be a listener. As for the ancestors, they also feel honoured because they know that they have truly been heard.

We invite the reader to join us as we reflect on these questions:

• How does one become a relic traveller?
• How is one prepared for such a meaningful mission?
• How does one learn to listen openly and carefully to their ancestors?

In this dialogue below, we imagine a discussion between a relic traveler and their guide, as the guide prepares the relic traveller for their initial voyage through Sanko-time, a concept that was innovated by Larry Achiampong. As he explained, “Sanko-time brings together two words, time and Sankofa.…‘Sankofa’ is a Twi word from Ghana, meaning to go back and retrieve something that may have been lost or forgotten, or something that is known but needs to be revisited in order to make sense of the present or pave the way for the future. The future does not become possible without the past. ... My mother raised me with that saying and it fascinated me as a kid, the idea of going backwards and forwards, not in a linear sense, but in a cyclical way.” [1]

The Relic Traveller asks questions and the guide offers insights on how to listen to ancestors within the circularity of time:

Activity Kit

For further consideration about the circularity of time > Activity Kit
Activity #2: Circles and cycles - connections and interconnections


Movements: Larry Achiampong + Jamilah Sabur is a tool designed by the PHI Foundation’s Department of Education to encourage visitors to develop and elaborate on some key concepts of the exhibitions Larry Achiampong: Relic Traveller and Jamilah Sabur: The Mountain Sings Underwater.


[1] Clark, Ashley. “Ghosts of the Future: A Conversation with Larry Achiampong”. Criterion, April 8, 2021


A self-taught drummer/band leader, Jahsun has over 30 years of professional experience and has influenced many young drummers and musicians in Montreal. Specializing in reggae, jazzhop, funk, R&B, soul, and hip-hop, he has toured across Canada, India, China, the Caribbean and the United States. Jahsun has solid experience performing in large, international festivals, concert venues and studio recording in a variety of genres, focused on both improvisational and rehearsed content. In 2003, he founded the Kalmunity Vibe Collective, a premiere platform for artistic expression, artist development and networking based on improvised music. As a drummer, Jahsun has composed, recorded and performed with widely known local and international artists such as Public Enemy, Malika Tirolien, Rhodnie Desir, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Lynn Taitt, Kaie Kellough, Jason Sharp, Fredy V, Omar, and many more.

In 2014, Jahsun was an invited faculty member at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Spoken Word Program, teaching classes on the improvisational fusion of poetry and music. In 2018, Jahsun co-founded Kalmunity Music Week, Canada’s first week-long festival focused on Black art forms. Recently, he also co-created the music for Rhodnie Desir’s BOWT TRAIL Retrospek (2020), as well as BOWT TRAIL:Tiotiake (2021).

Pohanna Pyne Feinberg
Pohanna Pyne Feinberg is an artist-educator who works with multiple forms, including participatory audio walks, paper-cutting, and printmaking. Impermanence, co-creation with place, collective memory and circularity are recurring considerations in her practice. In 2019, she completed a Ph.D. in Art Education (Concordia University, Montréal) that explored walking as a creative process and a form of artistic expression. She also teaches art history at Dawson College, where she is co-leading a two-year ECQ funded project to foster indigenizing and decolonizing art history curriculum/pedagogy in CEGEPs. Her approach to exhibition-based art education focuses on encouraging reflection and dialogue to enable epiphanies and personal empowerment through artistic connection.


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