TOMORROW is Jounen Kweyol, when various communities across the island display the practices, traditions and general way of life of St. Lucians of years gone by.
This time around, four communities will be in the spotlight, Gros Islet, Jacmel, Choiseul and Belle Vue, and if past celebrations could be used as a yardstick to pre-judge Sunday’s event, then it’s safe to say that all the participating communities will be popular sites for the growing numbers of lovers of the Day.
However one community seems to have gone way beyond the expected to ensure that Sunday will live in the memory of St. Lucians for a very long time.
This community is one of several making up Vieux Fort North. It claims to have a strong, if not the strongest, indigenous style of living and folk music traditions.
And according to Kendall Elva, Chairperson of the organizing committee for Creole Heritage Month, JounenKyewol being the biggest event for the month, every event on Sunday will be authentic.
“We are not importing anything. Everything that will be on display, everything that will be showcased will be from Bell Vue. That’s the strength of Belle Vue” he said.
The committee has a lineup of events for Sunday that could very well be the envy of the other three host ommunities.
For instance, what better folk band can be found on the island than the Wanjman Folk Band with AzotSevis? What better folk violinist can be found on the island than Rameau Poleon, known as the King of St. Lucia folk culture? He will be alongside the Eastern Folk Band out of Morne Repos. And what better cadence singer than Gregory Sinaise? Chante a Fire, the band from Belle Vue will also be on stage.
The action in Belle Vue begins from as early as five in the morning. First comers on the scene can enjoy a creole breakfast. After that the community goes to church to ask Almighty God to bless their various activities and look over them for the day. This will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The mass will be held at the Catholic Church in the community.
The gloves come off after the expiration of the two hours of praise and worship because promptly at 10:00 a.m. the roosters will be let loose. Yes, cock fights will be in session up to 11:30.
By then most people will be hungry and so on the stroke of noon lunch will be available. All types of creole dishes, cooked with different menus will be available for sampling.
Even as one strolls around with bowls or plates of food in the type of traditional utensils used long ago a number of events will be taking place. For instance, one can view the making of farine, the making of brooms, the making of coconut oil, the making of the famous cocoa stick, the making of chairs and hats and basket weaving. All that will be taking place between noon and 3:00 p.m.
For those wanting a true live experience of JounenKweyol, the committee has an event that may force other host communities re-evaluate their calendar of events.
At 9:00 a.m. there will be the live slaughtering of a pig. According to Elva there is an art to killing a pig if one wants to eat its meat. That art will be demonstrated on Sunday.
To those who can remember bread being cooked in ovens made out of a drum then they could relive that experience at Belle Vue because this will be on display. Oh, and the bread can be eaten hot from the oven. Such loaves are said to taste much better than those hastily cooked in the ovens of today.
Another unique piece of past culture to be displayed at Belle Vuewillbeunder-ground cooking of food. A hole is dug in the ground. The food pot is placed in that hole and covered with fire. This may not be as easily said, but one gets the picture.
Also on display will be an enactment of a wake, or what comprised of a wake in times past, something that surely will be different than those held today.
There will be a clash of the flowers that day, meaning the La Rose and the La Marguerite. Elva believes that the Belle Vue group will win that clash; after all Belle Vue has the largest and most enthusiastic La Rose group in the country. The La Marguerite group will come from Laborie.
With traditional average homes almost, if not extinct, persons who want to see how a traditional dwelling place of an average family was built back in the day, can view one at Belle Vue because one will be on show. The roof will be made of glass.
And there is more!
The Belle Vue multi-purpose court will feature all type of activities that kept children of long ago active. From 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the court will be exhibiting games like Chinese Skip. To those who can remember what that is you can still get your thrill. On display will be small replicas of trucks made out of wood that many a boy pushed around with a long stick. There will be bamboo bursting, ring games and lots more, according to Elva.
While there will be one or two tents, those shelters will be made out of bamboo, promised Elva.
“This was an intentional decision,” he said.