Waves of Arrivance


In this essay, we conduct an ancestral genealogy of the term “arrivant” through Kumina ceremony. A spiritual and ceremonial practice based in Jamaica, Kumina is, as Kamau Brathwaite describes, a living  fragmentation of an African religion which arrived in the Caribbean through the Middle Passage. On arrival, Kumina retained its ancestral remembrance and its Central African Indigeneity. The tidal intimacies of Kumina have a relation to Imogene “Queenie” Kennedy, known by Kamau Brathwaite, in the title-inspired epigraph to The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973), as Kumina Queen. Originally based in St. Thomas and later Kingston, Jamaica, Kennedy’s role in her community as a Kumina Queen exemplifies the intimacies and relationalities among African and Taíno Indigeneities. Through her life and her Word, this paper will consider how “arrivant” continues to be an honorific for Central
African ancestors who arrived in Jamaica as liminally enslaved and indentured.

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