Writing comes easy to us now. But imagine growing up in a nation where everyone thinks it’s play-acting at best, and witchcraft at worst.
Sequoyah was raised by his mother alone. He was a Cherokee, even though his father was a half-blood from Germany. He never met his father and only spoke Cherokee. Until 1825 all of the indigenous peoples of North America, for that matter, only spoke Cherokee. That was before Sequoyah invented a system of writing and reading for his nation, which in turn inspired the creation of 21 other scripts for the use of 65 languages all over the world.
At first, his friends and neighbours thought he had lost his mind and his wife is said to have burned his initial work. Faced with prejudice and several failures, Sequoyah persevered.
But what enabled an uneducated man, who growing up spent much of his time tending cattle and working in the garden, match symbols to syllables successfully?
Was it his disability? His lameness may have prevented him from being a successful farmer or warrior but it prepared him for failures. He wasn’t easily deterred by them.
Was it his creativity? As a child, he had devised and built milk troughs and skimmers for the dairy house that he had constructed. Later he became a noted silversmith and blacksmith who made his own tools.
Or was it his curiosity? As a silversmith Sequoyah dealt regularly with whites who had settled in the area and had become impressed by their writing, referring to their correspondence as “talking leaves”.
We believe that it was all of the above, and more. You see, his ingenuity lay in realising that it’s not enough to create something useful. One has to keep going until others have bought into it. He first taught the syllabary to his six-year old daughter and used her to persuade Cherokee leaders in the Arkansas territory to let him teach more people.
The Magna Sequoyah fountain pen is as much an ‘ode’ to the magic of writing as it is to the man who was perceptive enough to create one himself.
Rest your eyes on pen’s red wood-effect resin with a glint of gold and discover your own brilliant patterns. Who knows, it might even be a new form of writing.