Financial constraints hurting Creole celebrations?

October is being celebrated here in Saint Lucia as Creole Heritage Month. The month long celebration will culminate on the last weekend in October with schools and business houses across the island hosting their own activities on the last Friday in October followed by island-wide activities on Jounen Kweyol, Sunday October 28, 2012.

Creole Day, as described in the Folk Research Center’s (FRC) Jounen Kweyol Charter and Mission Statement reminds us that the aim of Jounen Kweyol is “to make the Saint Lucian society aware of the strength and value of the Creole language and to assist in the understanding and development of its rich cultural resources.

Last week during a press briefing the Folk Research Center, the central body for Jounen Kweyol activities here indicated that this year the event would be centered around two main communities, Vieux Fort and Marigot. Each year, three to four communities are named as official host for the activities. However this year it has dwindled to two. The community of “Patience,” according to the FRC, had initially been identified as a third venue for the event, but due to logistical difficulties, had to withdraw as a host.

When asked whether the event was feeling the financial constraints, Dr Kentry Jn Pierre, the FRC director acknowledged that was part of the reason.

“What a number of the communities over the years have realized, even after committing to host the event, is that it gets extremely difficult to actually host the event when it comes down to planning and getting things off the ground,” Jn Pierre told the STAR. “Very often they do not have the planning and technical capacity or the financial capacity to actually get things going,” he noted.

Jn Pierre is however thankful that this year a number of “old friends” as he described them, have stuck with the FRC and Jounen Kweyol including WLBL and Piton Beer, Bank of Saint Lucia, Consolidated Foods and the Government of Saint Lucia. Radio Saint Lucia, Calabash TV and GIS have also come on board as media partners.

Quite apart from the main host communities a number of groups, organizations and smaller communities around the island will be hosting their own activities for Jounen Kweyol, some of which the FRC is happy to endorse. Among them is a heritage festival in Dennery October 26-28 and the National Woulélaba Competition, which takes place from Sunday, October 14 in La Ressource.

“We really want to encourage that sort of thing from other communities,” Jn Pierre says.

“We are now at a point where we have to start rethinking our approach to Jounen Kweyol and whether we have the capacity to continue organizing it in the way we have done in the past,” he added.

Jounen Kweyol was first celebrated here in 1984 and is an occasion, which gives prominence to the island’s French cultural heritage in song, dance, food and drinks. Thousands converge in the host communities each year to sample locally prepared food and the cultural presentations.

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