Dynasty: The Peculiar Search for Totality

Artist Statement

Dynasty: The Peculiar Search for Totality is a photographic series that explores the timeline of one family’s peculiar search for freedom.  I use the word peculiar here to describe the man-made institution of slavery because it should have never existed. 

The series focuses on the fictional family of “Dada” (I Am Woman Series) and their determination to return their lineage to freedom after “Dada” was captured from her home in Africa and brought to America to be forced in the heinous institution of slavery.

I partnered with Dallas historian, Jamie Jenkins to bring an element of historical accuracy to each character allowing one to become intimately acquainted with each woman’s unique story.  Each woman was a key player in the ultimate fate of the Dynasty.  How many generations did it take for this family to regain their politically free status?  This is a powerful story about how one family chose a destiny that nothing and nobody could ever destroy.

The History of The Dynasty

1783 - 1827 : Akofena

What’s known of Akofena is she was of royal blood from the Ashanti tribe. A princess of the warrior clan, Akofena was wed to a Kenyan king for tribal alliances. She gave birth to Dada at age 17.

1800 - 1860 : Dada

Dada is Akofena’s daughter. Her name means “sister” in Swahili. Dada was playing by the river when she was 10 and was captured by a rival tribe and sold to British Europeans. She ended up enslaved in South Carolina. Raped at the age of 14 by her owner, she gave birth to Aba at the age of 15.

1815 - 1840 : Aba

Wawa Aba was Akofena’s granddaughter. She was stubborn in birth and in life, so Dada named her, Wawa Aba, the “seed of the wawa tree,” because the seed is really hard. Nicknamed Aba, she was a rebel who couldn’t be controlled by anyone. With one blue eye and one brown eye, anytime she looked in the mirror, her blue eye reminded her of all that she hates in this life. Aba’s owner wanted her as his sole possession and constantly raped her, though she had a husband. When she gave birth to Nunu at age 24, and Aba’s owner saw Nunu’s smooth chocolate skin, he was outraged. He ordered Nunu’s father's death hours after her birth. In a murderous rage, Aba gutted 13 heads of her owner’s cattle while everyone was sleeping. The next morning, when her owner learned of this massacre, he beat her to death, leaving her 2-day-old baby an orphan.

1840 - 1901 : Nunu

Dada named Nunu two days after her mother was killed at the hands of her owner. Nyame Nnwu Na Mawu, which means “God never dies, so neither can I”, was given in honor of her mother and father’s lives. This was so that Nunu would always be reminded that though her parents had transitioned from the material world, they lived eternally through her. Dada taught Nunu about her great grandmother Akofena, the warrior of royal blood, and to be proud of who she is. Nunu lived through the Emancipation of 1863 and became the first politically free woman of the Dynasty since her great grandmother, Akofena.

1870 - 1972 : Fifi

Fifi was the first-born child of Nunu. During her lifetime, she witnessed the dynamic cultural shift between the expansive Black freedom of the Reconstruction Era and the repressive terrorism of Jim Crow. A graduate of Fisk University, she was the first in the Dynasty to attend college. There, she began following the philosophies of W.E.B. DuBois. Her array of life experiences from seeing the first Black Senators to the horrors of the Ku Klux Klan; and to acquire an academic degree, pushed her to raise her daughter, Kokou, to be self-sufficient and unapologetically free. Fifi whose name means Friday, was Akofena’s great-great-granddaughter.

1895 - 1995 : Kokou

Raised with the stories of the day her great-grandmother Aba avenged her great-grandfather’s murder by single-handedly slaughtering 13 head of cattle with his machete, Kokou (1895-1995) was a radically free woman. Thus, Kokou (Wednesday) was a Garveyite who supported the “Africa for Africans” movement and was financially independent. She earned her living as a singer and piano player; performing regularly around town at various venues as the featured artist or with other musicians. Although she never met Aba she dreamed about her frequently and often wondered if she would ever be as brave as her. She was Akofena’s great-great-great-granddaughter.

1930 - Present : Ashanti

Ashanti is the 7th generation of the Dynasty. It is believed in many West African tribes, that she represents the reincarnation of her great-great-great-great grandmother Akofena. Ashanti was named after her family’s indigenous tribe and was a proud revolutionary in the Black Panther Party. She is the keeper of the dynasty’s heirlooms and story.

The Missy Burton Experience © 2020. All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy / Terms of Use