“We need to remember that festive occasions not only bring joy, but they also help in strengthening the unity among us as people. The Creole day celebration should revive our spirit as people. It should offer us the opportunity to build social relations and social communication which lead to unity.”
This Month, we celebrate a part of our cultural heritage, which is our Creole festival. Culture is a way of life at a particular time and though dynamic, it has a very strong element of consistency. It involves practices and shared values that are considered the norm among a group of people at that time. These values and practices are learnt through social interactions and distinguish the group from others. Culture is the single most powerful influence on how we perceive the world and everything in it. Anyone who does not share in our culture will always appear odd and they will think the same of us. Every society has a culture that carries its social rules. These rules are an unwritten code of conduct which is learnt continuously throughout life. Breaking these rules will normally result in social rejection and isolation. Culture also sets standards for the society. Beauty, wisdom, style and other such qualities will differ greatly across cultures. Members of a society will strive to live within the cultural rules and aspire to the cultural standards of their society. The culture of Saint Lucia is a mixture of a predominantly African, French, and English heritage. This Creole month celebration of our cultural heritage has been in existence for many years. Cultural celebration is very important. God is a God of culture. He is the one who made culture and he identifies himself in every culture.
Culture is a very powerful tool. It identifies who we are as people. As Marcus Garvey puts it
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Therefore if people want to attack and destroy you, the first thing they do is to destroy your cultural beliefs and practices. They impose their language and their values on you. They indoctrinate you to think you are worthless without them. They make you believe that your culture is inferior, it is barbaric, and it is archaic.
As people, we have a history where our colonial masters took away our indigenous culture and painted it as evil and imposed theirs on us.
However, now that we have this mixed cultural heritage, it is what makes us who we are as “Lucians”.
It is obvious that our Creole festival celebration offers us the opportunity to meet family and friends as well as it offers us the opportunity to reflect on who we are and where we are going as a people.
Celebrating our Creole festival should remind us that we are one people with a common destiny and, as such, we must love each other because we are “all in one boat sailing together to reach a better future”. We need to remember that festive occasions not only bring joy, but they also help in strengthening the unity among us as people. The celebration should revive our spirit as people. It should offer us the opportunity to build social relations and social communication which lead to unity among us.
It is important to note that National unity is the key to the success of the nation. In view of this, all of us should use every opportunity in this Creole celebration to strengthen the spirit of unity through greater interaction with one another in all spheres of our activities.
This celebration should create an opportunity for us to bury our differences by determining to forgive all those who would have wronged us. It is the duty of each and every one of us irrespective of our political or religious affiliation to keep building respect among ourselves. All of us should be fully committed to preserving harmony, goodwill and unity. Relentless efforts must be made by everyone to promote a culture of peace, harmony and unity.
In celebration of our cultural heritage, I am appealing to all our young people to avoid all negative practices such as: drunkenness, illegal drug use, stealing, committing murder and all other social vices. This is also an appeal to the Government to make sure there is strict enforcement of the laws relating to the possession of illegal fire arms. I think there also must be a review of the current laws pertaining to acquiring a license to possess a gun. There should be rigorous background checks before anyone could be given a license to own or carry a gun.
In this time of celebration, let us all resolve to love and preserve our rich cultural heritage for the next generation. Let us all do our best to cultivate harmony, goodwill, peace and unity to make our society a better place to live.