"Since the publication of the book coincided with the advent of the civil rights movement, Ananse became a means by which African Americans learned about, and took pride in, their heritage and armed themselves for cultural battle.... Arriving like a magnificent and unexpected gift, [it] helped elevate the collective black consciousness to a new and higher level of self-awareness."
—Alvia J. Wardlaw, from The Art of John Biggers: View from the Upper Room
In 1957, John Biggers traveled to Ghana, Nigeria, and other West African countries in search of an understanding of his African heritage. The deeply felt words and pictures in this book record his discoveries.
Biggers provides an intimate view of "the web of life" in West Africa. In his own words, "My intention was to discover and to portray what was intrinsically African. I was not interested in showing the degree to which Africans measured up to American or European standards in materialistic acquisitions; I was solely interested in capturing something universal in the many . . . washerwomen, farming women, fishermen, lumber workers, market women, mothers, fathers, and children.
"I envisioned three general geographical areas that offered contrasts: life near the sea, life in the forest region, and life on the open plains. Yet I wanted to show in these contrasting areas a thread of homogeneity that held the people together, that linked them in their struggle, in their destiny. The eighty-nine drawings in this book represent my effort."