Why Aren’t We Celebrating St Lucia’s new Chanson Nasyonnal?

By Desi Brown 

It is absolutely beyond me why the people of this region, or even worse St Lucia and Dominica, are not making a big deal about the fact that the St Lucia’s cabinet adopted a Kwéyòl version of their National Anthem.

Ok, maybe everyone is not into Culture as I am but shouldn’t we at least celebrate this attempt to safeguard one of our nation-state’s cultural identity? We blab and blab about how we must show greater appreciation for where we come from often with folks of the older generation feeling as though our younger generation is disconnected from their past and gravitates heavily towards pop culture. I am not in a position to validate or dispute those claims. I am just here to say, this is incredible!

While I don’t believe that the patois spoken in the Helen of the West Indies will just disappear as it is so much a part of who they are as a people, future generations will also be able to identify with the language, not only for the sake of knowing their colonial past, but an expression of self. In other words, this is a huge accomplishment for culture in St Lucia; the perfect example of sustained efforts towards cultural preservation. My ancestors must be smiling from wherever they are.

The decision to adopt the new Chanson Nasyonnal (Kwéyòl for National Anthem) came on the eve of Sent Lisi’s 37th Independence celebrated on Feb 22 2016. This momentous and historic act was also done in commemoration of UNESCO’s International Language Day celebrated each year on February 21.

This didn’t happen over night! Since 2010, work on adopting the Chanson Nasyonnal had commenced.Although there were earlier attempts at a Kwéyòl version by a church group in Gros Islet, the Kwéyòl Language Committee of the Folk Research Centre (FRC), chaired at the time by Lecturer, Ms. Lindy-Ann Alexander, decided to develop and seek formal adoption of a Kwéyòl version of the National Anthem that captured the essence and meaning of the original song written in English by Fr. Charles Jesse, OBE (deceased).

The 43-year-old FRC that had been encouraging the promotion of the Creole culture in all its aspects, commissioned Pastor Wulstan Charles to prepare a first draft for consideration. His submission formed the working draft for adoption. The final version of the Chanson Nasyonnal was developed after going through a number of iterations. This work was undertaken by a special committee chaired by Her Excellency the Governor General, Dame Pearlette Louisy.

The words of the Chanson Nasyonnal closely conform to the meaning of the English Anthem, though changes have been made to ensure that the Kwéyòl lyrics are in accordance with the music composed by Sir Leton Thomas

The government of St Lucia has been long promoting the use of the Kwéyòl. This is evident in the compilation, publication and distribution of a Kwéyòl Dictionary commissioned by the Ministry of Education.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing similar arrangements being made in Dominica!

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The Mas

By Cherisse Francis

Some wukkup and ‘ guh down’on Spring Garden while others wine and take a chip around the Savannah, but one thing is certain: as long as there is Caribbean people and sweet sounds of Soca seducing our senses and tempting our waist lines there WILL be a Carnival!

Before our festivals evolved into a colourful spectacle of feathers and gems, of gyrations and gymnastics there was “Mas”; masquerade I should say. An artistic portrayal of characters created uniquely for us, by us; and if you are willing to look behind the bands and duck beneath the ropes as the bands parade down the streets overflowing roadways like the ‘spirits’ constantly spilling from your cups you will find them. Near and far, characters sweeter than the best fairytale you ever heard: they lull you into safe sleep with their beauty or keep you awake as they haunt your nightmares. This is the most beautiful part of a carnival and in our region it is now barely clinging to life as we distort its very essence. So in hopes of keeping it alive, I will tell you this story.

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The Gorillas (Photo Credit: Aneel Karim)

Hot days and sweat dripping from our backs as we watch with heightened anticipation. We hear them before we see them; the sweet sounds of the drums, the penny-whistle, the cow bell and some pots and pans woven in between to create a strange symphony and then we see them!

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Shaggy Bears

Blending perfectly with the barren ground as they roll and tumble, they cackle and howl; they do flips and tumbles and play tricks on our children who by now have dashed for the comfort between mummy’s legs. What do we call them you ask? These mischievous creatures covered from head to toe in strips of cloth resembling fur, our description is simple. In Trinidad “ The Gorillas” in Barbados, “Shaggy Bears”.

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Moco-Jumbies (Photo Credit: Aneel Karim)

They leave the arena and in their wake the giants came. Towering over us in their colourful costumes the “Moco-Jumbies” dance. They perform their stunts destined to rival the best acrobats in the world and we watch them in a we.Stilt-Walkers “ we call them in Barbadian Parlance, enchant us as we wonder how they balance on their wooden pegs and maintain balance as they get in formation.

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Stilt Walkers (Photo Credit: Nation News Barbados)

We saw it coming and we scattered, a black hearse trimmed in silver creeping up

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Midnight Robber (Photo Credit: Aneel Karim)

the road observing our fun and games. As the twilight hour set in just before the street lights switched on to chase our shadows he came “ The Heart Man” seeking to steal the hearts and souls of little Bajan scallywags ignoring the calls of their mothers through jalousie windows to “get in this house now!” But as we saw him cloaked in black we ran towards our mother’s calls. His story isn’t too far from that of his Trinidadian cousin, “The Midnight Robber”  who relishes the dark of night  with his sounds and calls; he spins his tale to taunt and tease and haunt our dreams as he steals the daily bread of men.

 

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The Blue Devils (Photo Credit: Aneel Karim)

As we transcend back to today the bands pass, their shadows alive with the sounds of the music trucks penetrating our reflection as we see slight remnants of days gone by. The ‘culture’ or ‘heritage mas’ they call it, and painted in blue or black or red they come, spitting fire and assaulting our senses until we ‘pay the devils’. We have made this into fun; “The Blue Devils” and “Jab-Jab” can be viewed as an estranged parent of our present day jouvert.

The Blue Devils - Trinidad

The Blue Devils (Photo Credit: Aneel Karim)

Their stories and history locked away in a dark room wasting away as we sing and dance and parade from sunup ‘til sundown and beyond; covered in paint; and soap; and ‘powda’ fulfilling our carnal carnival dreams.

So that was my story, my short attempt at preserving what is our “Caribbean Kulcha”. This is just a snippet from this Bajan girl living in Trinidad. So if you want to know more of the history and tradition behind “the greatest shows on earth” research it for yourself and tell the story because “the old Mas must live Forever!”

Review: Quilt Performing Arts Company’s ‘Colour Me’

By Desi Brown

Quilt Peforming Arts Company’s Excerpts from ‘Colour Me’ catapulted me into immense feelings of discomfort, sadness, hope, joy…and I can’t possibly list all!

‘Colour Me’, written and directed by Rayon Mclean with contributions from his colleagues, Maya Wilkinson and Odain Murray was staged on Saturday February 27 2016 at the Phillip Sherlock Centre, in Kingston Jamaica.

Quilt PAC delivered an explosive culturally infused production nudging the corridor of power with unceasingly intense socio-cultural and political commentary using “colour” as a metaphor for a varying number of issues. Predominantly speech, the theatrical presentation also featuring dance and song explored and challenged topics such as socialization, living up to the expectations of society, internal conflict towards self-actualization, remaining true to who you are as an individual and a people, political ideologies and misconceptions of political participation. There may be more, but these are the most memorable for me. But it is so much more than the script. It was the impeccable delivery.

I’d say ‘Colour Me’ is a myriad of metaphoric excellence except sometimes, there were no filters for some perceptions. It is a work of a creative genius, brimming with provocative imagery and symbolism through poetry, drama, movement, music, sound and lighting. The multitalented Quiltans were extremely committed to their roles from beginning to the end. They performed each piece with so much conviction that it would be hard not to experience the passion and power emanating from their presence every time they graced the stage.

Noteworthy are the singers. Their melodious sound of blackness echoed in the theatre causing the audience to “ooooh”, “ahhhh” and “mmmm”. While there were some commendable solo pieces, they were all better together as they created a beautiful harmony. My favourites are “Fly Away” to the colour green scene which was a symbol for healing and growth as well as “True Colours”.

“Pink is for Girls, Blue is For Boys” is a phenomenal piece that effectively addresses how our society dictates who we should be rather than encouraging us to express who we are or desire to be. The Quiltans that led both sides were so immersed in their roles contributing to an incredible delivery. This is definitely one of my favourites.

Kudos to Mclean for incorporating Maypole and the Jamaican indigenous folk forms such as Kumina and Dinki-Mini into his work. That Afro-Caribbean song and movement was brilliantly choreographed and directed.

Compelling arguments were presented about society acting like “zombies”. Not thinking in times of desperation and even when making decisions about who should govern us. The piece on “marking the x” is so profound as it addresses the relationship of the poor with politicians who come bearing gifts. The relationship is characterized my desperation and vulnerability. Despite the hardships faced by these individuals, they still support those who show up for them in their times of need; an experience most of us could never understand. Subsequently, there was a call for a “Revolution” which was indeed artistically revolutionary. The movement were so precise.

The second half really increased my level of discomfort but anyone who knows me is sure that this is a good thing!

Here is where I add; the lighting was the icing on the cake! It definitely helped to enhance what was already an amazing theatrical showcase.

Although young, Quilt Performing Arts Company is a powerhouse with enormous electric potential. I am inclined to believe that this group has recognized the power they have to encourage change as artists within the creative arts and also in our society. Their performance this weekend was quite a refreshing experience as they provocatively and creatively captured so much of who we all are and what we are confronted with daily. A splendid depiction of what art means to many of its practitioners, an expression of our true selves. Quilt Performing Arts Company is a growing dynasty. I am impressed! Watch out fi dem!

I Don’t Care About Mayor Tim Kee…and Why You Shouldn’t Either!

 Greetings Trinidad & Tobago,

I was moved to express my feelings regarding Mayor Tim Kee, his comments of victim blaming, and violence against women in the community; however, before reading any further please note three very important things:

  1. I would like to pay the most utmost respect to the family, friends, and the spirit of Asami Nagakiya.
  2. I would like to send my sincere thanks to all the people that make T&T Carnival a great experience for all residents and visitors alike.
  3. I would like to say that I in no way mean to offend anyone by my opinion documented in this piece; however, I wanted to share it in order to empower and salute the people of this awesome country.

With all of that being said, let me state this as clearly and as frankly as possible; “I don’t care about Mayor Tim Kee and anything good or bad that may or may not come out of his mouth. You may be remarking that it is awfully easy for me to say since I am a Canadian and he is not my mayor; however, I am saying it nonetheless. I will add that spending any of your precious time, energy, or consideration on him or his sentiments would be a total waste. Again, others may criticize me for being insensitive and I assure you that is not the case. I do not think that you should spend your time worrying about Mayor Tim Kee because his sentiments alone have proven that he is only your leader by ceremony and not by truth or conviction. In other words, you as a people are on another level so to speak. I also think that you should not pay him any mind because the more attention you pay to him the more power you give him. Asami’s murder and Mayor Tim Kee’s awful headlines made global headlines and trust me, the world knows that the good people of Trinidad in no way agreed with his sentiments.

The truth of the matter is that the power to change the way women are treated in this country lies with the people. You are all great citizens of a great nation. Anyone can see that Trinidad has a strong culture, fantastic energy, but most of all, a warm and courageous heart. The outpouring of love, sympathy, and sadness for this young person was truly touching. The action that the citizens took to show how sorry they were that this took place in their country was moving. The words of one man doesn’t wipe that love away. The words of one man are just the words of one man. Silly people say silly things, but you can put silly people in their place and keep them there until they change their ways. The sad thing about this story is that for Mayor Tim Kee to say those words shows that he simply does not know any better. If a charitable person that is close to him wants to help him to learn about violence against women, he would be better for it; however, this will not change the current state of affairs for women in Trinidad.

Man or woman, child or adult, the best thing you can do to improve the welfare of women in Trinidad is take some quiet time to reflect on your own views, perspectives, and actions.

  • When women that you do not know pass by do you make comments that would make your grandparents ashamed?
  • Do you know of a neighbour or family member that is in an abusive relationship but you turn a blind eye because it isn’t your business?
  • Do you force your children to hug and kiss strangers even when they say it makes them feel uncomfortable?
  • Do you tell your children they are stupid or allow others in positions of authority to do the same? When you hear “no” do you listen?
  • When violence occurs in a different racial/class category from your own do you disregard it?
  • Do you look at sexual pictures or videos of young people that may have been taken without their consent?
  • Are you outraged by the number of Trinidadian people that simply go missing and most likely are being trafficked into sexual slavery?
  • Are you taking part of the grooming process that occurs in sexual and physical abuse?
  • Are you allowing yourself to be groomed for abuse because you are afraid of being alone?
  • Do your children witness you being emotionally, verbally or physically abused my a loved one or family member?

What is going on mentally that is creating the present environment around you? If you don’t like what you see around you what are you doing to change it?

I know that what I am saying may come off “preachy” but it comes from a place of understanding and some regret. You see, I am from a city called Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. Unfortunately, our reputation isn’t great. We are known for having the highest murder rate in Canada, as being the most racist city in the country, and for the horrible treatment of our Indigenous Women. We are only beginning to learn that no elected official can fix this issue for us and their often ignorant remarks are just s symptom of the infection that we have allowed to fester for so long. I am not proud to say that I have looked the other way when my fellow citizens were being mistreated because of my own prejudiced attitudes. Last year they found the remains of a 15-year-old girl named Tina Fontaine in the Red River and in my heart I knew that the consciousness of the city was beginning to change. We could no longer remain silent and we had to stand up in our own communities and show that enough was enough. Most importantly, we had to look in the mirror and come to terms with our own nasty opinions; whether we admitted to others or not.

I am proud of the huge number of Trinidadians that rose up out of apathy to condemn what Mayor Tim Kee said; you should be proud, too. Conversations of the travesty of his senseless words were buzzing in all nooks and crannies of the country. Nevertheless, it is time to let him learn whatever lesson he needs to learn on his own. Focus on the most important person of all, yourself. Whether you know it or not, at least one person is looking up to you as a role model and you will lead by example. What is your legacy going to be? What are you doing today to make next years’ carnival a safe one for everyone? Better yet, what are you doing today to make your personal environment a safe one. I said it before and I will say it again, I am not concerned about Mayor Tim Kee and anything that he says; however, I have been truly touched by the people of Trinidad and Tobago. My condolences again go out of the family and friends of Asami Nagakiya; may her spirit be remembered and may she rest in peace.

With Great Thanks,

Keisha Paul

10.26.15-RogersTalksWinnipeg-keisha@keishapaul.com3945 (1)

Keisha Paul is a business consultant and facilitator that focuses on teaching small business skills to budding entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds. Her work has brought her to England, St Kitts, and to work with stakeholders from all corners of the world. She is involved in both the private sector as well as in the nonprofit and development communities. Currently, she is focussing on growing her client base and investing in her business.

 

Caribbean Fishing & Fishermen

“Fishermen occupy a unique position in modern Caribbean social structure. ” – Richard Price, Harvard University

There is a great value of fish in the Caribbean which is obvious in the presence of fishing industries in every island. Although limited in resources to develop a large scale fishing industry, Caribbean fishing allows for the enjoyment of varying styles of cuisines that incorporates fish as a delicacy. Trawling Lining, Seining, Fillet gill nets as well as fish pots and reels are techniques used in fish catching. The method chosen is dependent on the type and size of fish to be caught. Fishing is a year round activity that directly employs thousands of people. In the Caribbean, fish is may be processed by salting, smoking or coating (known as fresh fish) often if there is a delay between the time caught and consumed/sold.

There is historically evidence of how their specialised way of life came into being to the present. Caribbean fishing slaves – at first Amerindians and then Africans – were from the beginning a privileged subgroup within the plantation system, and their unusual socio-economic role permitted a smooth transition to a life of a free fishermen.

 

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Spotlight on ULTRA CARNIVAL by Ozelle & Natasha

It all started with outstanding social media marketing when ‪#‎Ultra promoted its ‪#‎UltraCulture hastags‬ which helped to create high waves of excitement for the newly founded mas experience for St. Kitts & Nevis National Carnival SugarMas44‬.

ULTRA Carnival branded itself as an “intimate and unforgettable first class all-inclusive mas experience that features impeccable service and glamorous high fashion costumes.” Before you knew it, ESCAPE was sold out before December and on Grand Parade Day saw a total of 180 mas players. It wasn’t just something new. #UltraCulture fit the taste of so many and is today commended for developing a brand that helped to bring many NEW mas players on the road for #SugarMas44

It was definitely ‪#‎UltraMadness‬ as the beautifully designed costumes and gorgeous mas players touched the road exhibiting everything #UltraCulture. It was fun and plenty fashion!

This new mas experience may have drawn from many different experiences in the region but what made it truly different was the strong influence of the owners’ own unique styles and expertise. A collective approach that may have helped to define itself within space and time.

We look forward to hearing more about #Ultra innovations and well organized mas experiences. Keep up the excellent work!

Photos by B’jon Lamari Bass & QuiteVivid Multimedia Inc

Spotlight on Sasha Herbert 

In light of the recently concluded #SugarMas44 festivities in the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis, here is a splendid piece that caught our attention on stage during the St. Kitts & Nevis National Carnival Queen Pageant exhibited by contestant, Jaheida Lewis

The piece that Jaheida Lewis paraded on stage for the segment, National Pride, highlighted the newly founded CPL T20 team, St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots. It was drawn by, 20 year old Sasha Herbert, resident and avid artist in SKN.

    

St. Kitts and Nevis For Fashion & Fun

By Desi Brown

St. Kitts & Nevis is showing up for the Fashion Industry. I’ve seen the photos and I truly wish I was there to experience what I believe might very well be the region’s  newest and hottest fashion event.

St Kitts Marriott Resort’s Dome came alive with Renaissance Red Fashion Show in November 2015. From the looks of it, the stunning models and extraordinarily diverse Caribbean and International Designers and Boutiques collectively participated in a mind-blowing, well planned production. To put the icing on the cake, the trendsetting event was hosted by Sports Illustrated Supermodel Damaris Lewis along with one of our favourite Caribbean girls Miss Universe Jamaica 2014 and Miss Universe 2014, 4th Runner-up, Kaci Fennell.

It seems that, St. Kitts Fashion Events created an unforgettable experience as they entertained their international and regional guests, models and patrons to a weekend of fabulous fun and fashion with its private Welcome Party, Haute Couture Gala both prior to the big Red Carpet event which was next by a Trunk Show for the designers and boutiques  to sell their magnificent pieces to patrons the following day. Even Kaci said she had fallen in love with our little gem. What a hit for St Kitts & Nevis! Commendable!

Trendy, bold, eccentric, ornate, provocative, relaxed and elegant are just a few words I would use to describe what I saw on the runway. Here are some of my favourite pieces from each designer or boutique.

Photographer: Froylan Flowers

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St. Kitts and Nevis is quickly becoming a luxury tourism destination but I’m sure we don’t mind adding Caribbean Fashion Hub to the list. A round of applause for St Kitts Fashion Events for promoting the federation and Caribbean’s finest designers in true style and fashion. They have set the bar very high. It’s only up from here. So, mark your calendars for their next massive event scheduled for November 20th 2016. It’s worth the trip!

About St Kitts Fashion Events

St. Kitts Fashion Events is an elite brand that created a platform to showcase the federation’s models as well as Caribbean and International Designers and Boutiques. The production of upscale fashion events, aims at promoting St. Kitts and Nevis globally and creating a platform for Creative Entrepreneurs and other Creative Industry actors to network.

LIKE their Facebook page and FOLLOW them on Instagram for more photos and updates.

Soca from Way Back When

By Desi Brown

I was recently asked to do choreography for an Opening Number for Rex Nettleford Hall (UWI, Mona) Uber Fashion show dubbed ‘Retro Caribbean’. The song that was selected was Faluma by Alison Hinds. I had an immediate Soca rush! I felt that one all through my veins and I thought “WOW! Some Soca songs just never get old”. So, I thought, why not share my favourite old school Soca songs and help to jump start your weekend? Add them to your playlist. I promise you’ll thank me later.

  1. Burning Flames – Workey Workey
  2. Square One – Aye Aye Aye
  3. Krosfyah – Pump Me Up
  4. Kevin Little ft Alison Hinds- Turn Me On
  5. Xtatik- Footsteps
  6. Super P – Curry
  7. Alison Hinds – Faluma
  8. Rupee – Tempted To Touch
  9. Destra – Bonnie & Clyde
  10. Byron Lee & The Drangonaires – Dollar Wine
  11. Destra – It’s Carnival
  12. Arrow – Hot Hot Hot
  13. Krosfyah – Sweatin (She Body In Control)
  14. WCK – Balance Batty
  15. Atlantik – All Aboard
  16. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – Walk & Wine (Congo Line)
  17. Machel Montano – Big Truck
  18. Rupee – What Happens In De Party
  19. Square One featuring Alison Hinds – Iron Barzodee
  20. Shurwayne Winchester – Dead or Alive
  21. Claudette Peters – Something Got A Hold On Me
  22. Square One – Turn It Around
  23. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – Tiney Winey
  24. Arrow – Long Time
  25. Crazy – Nani Wine (1989)
  26. Osha – The Stamp
  27. Byron Lee – Swinging Engine
  28. Super P – Everybody Peepin
  29. TC – Who The Hell Is Kim
  30. Burning Flames – If Yuh Get What Yuh Want

This list can go on and on! Don’t see your favourite? Tell me what’s your favourite old school Soca songs! Love Soca? Share with your friends!

3 Easy Steps To Supporting The Miss World 2015 Caribbean Delegates

By Desi Brown

They say that pageantry is one of the greatest forms to promote an island and display some aspects of its cultural space. It’s not a myth. It is fact. The Miss World 2015 pageant will be the 65th edition when it opens the curtains at Crown of Beauty Theatre in Sanya, China PR on December 19th 2015 for the 121 contestants that have been confirmed. As the promotional videos circulate ahead of the month long intensive preparations the delegates will collectively experience on their journey to the crown, we’re all eyes and ears for our Caribbean beauties. Nothing excites me more than an opportunity to share our explosive and diverse cultural heritage on the world stage.

Here are the three easy steps you can follow to show your support for our Miss World Caribbean Queens.

  1. Know the Miss World 2015 Caribbean Ambassadors competing. Each Country’s link will take you to the Miss World 2015 contestant’s page where you will find a Biography and answers to personal questions.
  1. Follow their journey on their respective Facebook & Twitter pages.
  2. Finally, cast your vote on Beauties Concepts. You may vote up to five times per day. Let’s rally behind our girls as they so bravely represent our region while they vie for this most prestigious title.

Only nine Caribbean delegates managed to cop the Miss World title but many have gotten as far as the Top 15.

Past Caribbean Miss World Winners

Bermuda: 

1979 – Gina Swaison

Dominican Republic:

1982 – Mariasela Alvarez

Grenada: 

1970 – Jennifer Hosten

Jamaica: 

1963 – Carole Joan Crawford

1973 – Patsy Yuen

1976  – Cindy Breakspeare

1993 – Lisa Hanna

Puerto Rico:

1975 – Wilnelia Merced

Trinidad & Tobago: 

1986 – Giselle Laronde