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!