Abigail Ifatola Jefferson

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"Highway to Hana"   

Last July, my husband and I journeyed to paradise to celebrate my being on earth
for half a century.  We breathed in fresh air, soaked in the rays of the
beautiful sun, trekked through luscious rainforests, explored dark caverns,
witnessed majestic volcanic landscapes, and bathed in the warm waters of the
Hawaiian Islands. We spent eleven glorious days in Hawaiian Heaven.

First stop was the island of Oahu, home to the city of Honolulu, where I
attended a conference celebrating the vibrant tradition called “Talk Story.”
Hawaiian storytellers and tellers from around the world shared folktales,
personal and historical tales.  I learned that Hula is storytelling; I heard
tales of Pele, Goddess of the Kilauea Volcano, and listened deeply to the Tongan
epics of Maui. Also shared were oral histories from the lives of World War II
Japanese-American soldiers, stories of Japanese picture brides, and a personal
account of life growing up on an island that was once a place of exile for
victims of leprosy.  I was humbled by all I heard, and often found myself moved
to tears.

When the storytelling event ended, I was inspired to do some island-hopping, so
we jumped on a small plane and ventured over to Maui’s northern shore, and
headed down the 53-mile highway to the village of Hana. “Highway” is a generous
word, however, as the last 30 miles is a narrow two-lane road clinging
optimistically to the edge of ancient volcanic cliffs. The heavenly valleys,
shores, mountains, rainforests, waterfalls and people of Hana were beckoning me. 
I was so enticed by all the beauty, peace, and charm that I was tempted to stay
there forever, never to be heard from again. As a matter of fact, at stops along
the road to Hana, I encountered several others from the mainland who had
followed their gut reaction and never returned. Hana had become their home; I
understood why.

On my birthday, July 25th, we visited the island of Kauai, known as the garden
island. There, I stood before Waimea Canyon’s unforgettable cliffs, and looked
up at radiant skies while kayaking down the Wailua River. I felt the power of
Mother Earth in all her glory, and I felt so blessed to be alive in creation to
celebrate my Born Day.

Give Thanks,
Abigail “Ifatola” Jefferson
Copyright © 2009

Vincent’s Gift
By Abigail “Ifatola” Jefferson

Storytelling is a treasured gift from our ancestors. Humans have been weaving stories since the days of etching drawings on cave walls and painting hieroglyphics on papyrus. Since the earliest of times, people have gathered around campfires to spin a tale and to ignite the imagination. Storytelling is a universal phenomenon; no matter who you are, what your culture, or where you come from, you have a story to tell. We all have a story to share, and here’s my mine…

Long, long ago, when I was a child growing up in Washington, D.C., I would sit on my grandparents’ front porch on steamy hot summer days and journey with my grandfather, Vincent Harrison, to the cool land of storytelling. He would share with me stories that his father had shared with him when he was a child. Little did I know, my grandfather was keeping alive a vibrant tradition that has been passed down since the beginning of time, and now, he was passing this tradition down to me. How cool was that?

My grandfather would use funny facial expressions, expressive hand gestures and vocal intonation to paint vivid pictures on the canvas of my inquisitive mind. Oftentimes he would lead me into a story with a song or a rhythmic chant to capture my focus. Once I was entranced, he would impart his elder wisdom in the form a story. I was always mesmerized by the stories and songs he shared. As he told his stories, my mind latched onto his every word and I would transform his words into pictures in my mind’s eye. Through these mental images, I was able to connect to my five senses, make personal connections, and follow the events that unfolded in the plot lines of my grandfather’s folk tales. I followed the stories’ twists, turns, ups, downs, ins and outs. Of course I wasn’t being as analytical as a child; I was simply enjoying the times we shared.

In the telling of a story, my grandfather would become everything and everybody to me: he became all of the characters, conveying the moods and emotions of each with his tone of voice and body movement. He created scenery, objects, clothing, season, weather, sound effects and so much more with his colorful descriptive word imagery; he brought intensity, adventure, enthusiasm and excitement with his timing and pacing. My grandfather achieved all this by going within, connecting to his inner-self, gazing into the eyes of his captivated listener (me) and bringing forth the drama that’s rooted in storytelling.

My grandfather always made sure to let me know that he and I shared equally in this experience. He was the teller, yes, but I was the listener, and as such had an essential role to play in our communication bond. I was an eager participant, actively engaged in using my creativity to see the images that were prompted by the words my grandfather brought to life. We were an unbeatable team in our creativity and collective story building.

My grandfather has since passed away, and I am now a parent, an arts educator, and a professional storyteller. I am greatly blessed to have spent these treasured moments with my grandfather, and I have a strong commitment to continuing his legacy by passing on the storytelling art form to my children and to the broader community. All humans have a storytelling legacy to cherish and we are all participants in this global tradition, whether we realize it or not.

To access the storyteller within, take a moment and turn off the television and the computer, get together with a couple of friends and tell some tales. Your story could be as simple as telling someone all about your favorite and/or worst meal, how you received a scar, your first kiss, an exciting trip, an embarrassing moment, a joyous occasion, or anything that inspires you.

Storytelling is a powerful tool which strengthens family bonds, builds community, increases literacy, raises self-esteem, develops communication, promotes the joy of learning, improves listening, teaches history, celebrates heritage, embraces diversity, defines culture, and so much more. So spread the word…..

Copyright © 2008, Abigail Jefferson

"Imani's Heart, The Dancing Angel" written by a mother and daughter:
Abigail Jefferson and Chaka Bedell

Purchase your copy TODAY! Click on products and place your order.

Meet Imani, a dancing angel with a mission.

A story of compassion and grace, a new children’s book called “Imani’s Heart, The Dancing Angel” is about an angel who loves to dance and her short visit to planet Earth. While visiting Earth, she promised to fill hearts with love but found a lot of hearts that needed mending. Find out how she shared her joy to bring people together.

This story is written in memory of Imani Wilson, who passed away in December 2002 at the age of 12 years old, due to congenital heart problems. In an effort to continue her legacy, handle their grief, and share their experience with others, her parents and family members decided to self-publish this beautifully illustrated book.

This modern day fairytale is written by Abigail “Ifatola” Jefferson and Chaka R. Bedell. Both Chaka and Abigail are relatives of Imani Wilson.

The book addresses grief in a positive manner, especially useful when discussing the subject with children or anyone who has lost a loved one.

For more information, please contact [email protected]

Copyright © 2006, Abigail Jefferson



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