Creole Heritage Month Begins

A huge crowd at Jounen Kwéyòl in Vieux Fort last year. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]

Packed Slate of Cultural Activities.

A huge crowd at Jounen Kwéyòl in Vieux Fort last year. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
A huge crowd at Jounen Kwéyòl in Vieux Fort last year. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
DESPITE the blistering weather pattern of late, a high wave of cultural activities is expected to cool things off as various communities and organizations around Saint Lucia observe Creole Heritage Month (Mwa Éwitaj Kwéyòl).

The theme for this year’s Creole Heritage Month is “avansé épi kiliti nou, ka konèt éwitaj nou” (“Forward with our culture, knowing our heritage”).

Beginning with a book launch last Thursday and ending with a “Manjé, dansé ek chanté an Kwéyòl” show on October 31, expect a great deal of focus to be placed on highlighting the island’s rich creole heritage.

Other activities planned for this month are as follows:
• Saturday, October 3 – Creole Address on Creole Economy, 8:00 p.m.
• Monday, October 5 – Creole Dance, CSA Centre, 4:00 p.m.
• Tuesday, October 6 to Friday, October 9 – Cultural Literacy Programme for Students, Folk Research Centre, 9:00 a.m. daily
• Sunday, October 11 – Konpétisyon Woulélaba (Woulélaba Competition) begins from 10:00 a.m.
• Monday, October 12 to Thursday, October 15 – Cultural Literacy Programme for Students, Folk Research Centre, 9:00 a.m. daily
• Saturday, October 17 – Fésten Kont épi Listan ek Tanbou, National Cultural Centre, 8:00 p.m.
• Sunday, October 18 – Kwéyòl Gospel Fiesta, National Cultural Centre, 7:00 p.m.
• Monday, October 19 to Thursday, October 22 – Cultural Literacy Course, Folk Research Centre
• Wednesday, October 21—Music, storytelling, Kwéyòl Poetry Night, Alliance Francaise, 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, October 24 — Laplas Kwéyòl, Rodney Bay Marina, 7:00 a.m.
• Saturday, October 24 – Swawé Kwéyòl, Fond d’Or Nature & Historical Park, 4:00 p.m.
• Saturday, October 24 – Konpétisyon Lawenn Kwéyòl (Creole Queen Competition), National Cultural Centre, 6:00 p.m.
• Sunday, October 25 – Jounen Kwéyòl. Host communities: Boguis, Ti Rocher (Micoud), Canaries and Laborie. Start time: 6:00 a.m.
• Monday, October 26 to Tuesday, October 27 – Creole Art and Craft Exhibition, Folk Research Centre, 9:00 a.m.
• Wednesday, October 28 – Jounen Kwéyòl Entennasyonnal (International Creole Day). Radio Linkup among Saint Lucia, Dominica and Martinique, from 2:00 p.m.
• Thursday, October 29 – Creole Art and Craft Exhibition, Folk Research Centre, 9:00 a.m.
• Friday, October 30 – Lafen Maje Kwéyòl, Folk Research Centre, 12:00 noon
• Saturday, October 31 – Manjé, dansé ek chanté an Kwéyòl, National Cultural Centre, 8:30 p.m.

The main showpiece of Creole Heritage Month, Jounen Kwéyòl, will be hosted in four communities: Boguis, Laborie, Canaries and Ti Rocher (Micoud). Organizers have made a strategic effort to host the festival simultaneous in communities located in the north, south, east and west of the island.

Described as the most widely-celebrated cultural extravaganza on the Creole Heritage Month calendar, Jounen Kwéyòl will be observed in Saint Lucia for the thirty-first year since it started in 1984.

FRC Chairman, Leslie Charles. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
FRC Chairman, Leslie Charles. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
The annual festival, usually celebrated on the last Sunday in October, was cancelled in 2010 following the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

At last Tuesday’s official launch of Creole Heritage Month held at the Folk Research Centre at Mount Pleasant, FRC’ Chairman, Leslie Charles, said some critical changes were made this year in terms of deciding on which communities would host Jounen Kwéyòl.

Charles said that the previous norm was that communities would submit proposals for hosting the festival. However, based on the reviews the FRC has received thus far, a different approach needed to be taken.

“We found that some communities often approached us to host the festival but did not necessarily have the capacity to undertake the activity,” Charles said. “So this year we felt that we should select communities and approach them towards working with them in hosting the festival. From the results we’ve seen so far, this is working very successfully and we expect to have a much bigger and better celebration this year.”

Charles said the organization and planning for hosting this year’s Creole Heritage Month activities began much earlier. This included the FRC meeting with organizers from the various communities identified to assist them with forming their committees and planning their activities.

Charles also lauded the efforts of Saint Lucians living in the Diaspora who do their part to ensure that the island’s cultural heritage continues to be highlighted across international borders. Closer to home, however, he implored future host communities to pay close attention to the efforts that go into hosting Jounen Kwéyòl so that the cultural festival remains sustainable and relevant.

“I wish to encourage other communities hoping to host Jounen Kwéyòl in the future to understudy these communities and seek to emulate the methods and strategies they have implemented in organizing their activities. I think it will be to the benefit of all of us,” Charles said.

The aim of Jounen Kwéyòl is to make Saint Lucians aware of the strength and value of the kwéyòl language and to assist in the understanding and development of its rich cultural resources.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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