Kúnlę: A Conversation With My Grandma
After discovering her grandma’s intriguing history when she moved in, Grace spoke with her and delved further into her life.
I lived with her over a month before I asked a single question about her life.
At the beginning of my time here at Rife I moved to Bristol. I knew exactly two people that lived here; one friend from university and my grandma, who I currently live with.
I lived with her over a month before I asked a single question about her life. Maybe it was my commitment to respectfully answering, ‘Yes, ma’ or ‘no, ma’ to every question, or perhaps I was too self-involved to even consider it, but a home video finally sparked my curiosity. The two of us were watching her 50th birthday video and the questions came spilling out. From that I found out that my grandma moved to England from Nigeria when she was eighteen, that she was President of the Nigerian Publisher’s Association, she’s well-traveled (India, France and Hong Kong) and an extremely popular song was written about her and her husband.
As of 2016, 11.4 million people in the UK are over 65. Of that number, three million live alone. That includes the old widower who lives at the bottom of your road and your grandparent who lives in a care home a bit too far away to visit often. I’m so grateful that moving to Bristol hasn’t been a lonely experience because I have my Grandma. However, I’m coming to the realisation that she’s just as happy to have me.
This film is titled Kúnlę. It means ‘to kneel’ or to ‘prostrate’, and it’s an action Yoruba people perform out of respect to their elders. This is my way of honouring my Grandma and the adventurous and accomplished life she’s lived. If you’re willing, take the time to speak with elderly people. Ask them questions; find out their biggest regret; ask about their most exciting adventure. They have lives – interests, experiences and stories – that are worth hearing about.