Kweyol Heritage month started yesterday October 1, and the official launch of the month and the embedded activities took place at the Folk Research Centre here, at Mount Pleasance yesterday.
The FRC is the body overseeing this event and over the years, Kweyol Heritage Month and Jounen Kweyol which ends the month on the last Sunday in October, has grown into one of the biggest cultural celebrations on the island. Each year, the FRC selects three or four communities as the main host of events for Jounen Kweyol. However this has not stopped every nook and cranny, schools, business houses and even families from hosting their own event, making it a truly national one. So it was only a matter of time that the city of Castries would feel like the schoolboy in the back of the class with his hands up who never got picked.
This year, Castries is stepping up for the first time with its own initiative for Creole Heritage Month called La Place Kweyol. The event, the brain child of entertainment impresario Ezi Hall, will be held October 14, 15 and 16. It will be centered at the Castries market and encompass the supplementary facilities, namely; craft market, the plaza, the food court, Prio’s place and Caribbean Cocktails. And on the final day, the portion of the John Compton Highway next to the market will be blocked off to facilitate a number of traditional games and activities.
La Place Kweyol was launched on Thursday September 30 at Caribbean Cocktails, situated within the Castries market facility and was chaired by Caron Tobiere one of the organizers of the event. According to Tobiere the event has been sanctioned by the CDF, the Castries City Council and the FRC.
Speaking Thursday the executive director of the FRC, Kentry Jn Pierre, reminded those present that “Kweyol” was not just about “bagai loten” (things of the past) but that it was “bagai nou, jordi jour” (what is ours, today). He then went on set the record straight that Castries has been left out of Jounen Kweyol activities because there was no Creole in the city. “Everywhere in Saint Lucia, particularly in Castries, there is a wealth of Creoleness which lies within the people. So I want to debunk that myth that there is no Creole in the City.”
According to Jn Pierre there has been some interest by groups in Castries in the past to host Jounen Creole and last year the Castries City Council had started plans to host the event but that fell through.
“We at the folk research centre, we are very, very happy with this initiative. The fact of the matter is that the FRC really and truly wants to get to a point where it no longer is responsible for organizing every single event for Jounen Kweyol and Creole Heritage Month. If the people in the various locations can take charge of this thing and run it themselves the FRC is quite happy with that. Of course we will just retain the responsibility of just monitoring things to try to ensure a certain level of authenticity,” Jn Pierre emphasized.
Not only has the FRC endorsed the event, but it will be making a presentation during the exhibition component of La Place Kweyol on Cassava and the role of Cassava in the development of the people.
Alan Didier, representing one of the partners of La Place Kweyol, the CCC, revealed Thursday how excited he was when the idea was first mooted by Ezi Hall. “Now I am even more excited that it will actually happen and I am also pleased that the market vendors, all of them are given an opportunity to participate in an activity without spending one cent but looking forward to making some dollars,” he stated. Didier went on to indicate that the CCC’s chairman McArthur Fowell, a well known fisherman, will be making a presentation on fishing and building fish pots during the events.
According to the organizers it is hoped that the activity will create an influx of visitors and locals to the Castries Market over the three-day period thus increasing sales for the many vendors who make their living there and provide Saint Lucians and visitors a peek and taste of St Lucia’s colourful Creole history.
The exhibition will involve information on Jounen Kweyol, a display of Saint Lucian Folk Heroes, a tribute to Sessene, Kweyol publications, traditional modes of dress, games, dances and instruments among other things.
There will also be a focus on activities for students to include the exhibition itself, story telling, truck making (kaboowe’), crab trap making and touring the facility.
A number of fun and games are expected to be the centerpiece on the final day and will include marbles, tiki tok, rounders, hop scotch, crab trap competition and tire race which Caron Tobiere indicated Thursday that the representative for Central Castries will be taking part in.
Speaking Thursday Richard Frederick said he was truly looking forward to this event. Now that the wheels are in motion the Central Castries representative said it showed what hard work and perseverance could do. “I want to say special thank you to Ezi Hall,” he said, adding that the event was in sync with his general objective of bringing life to the city.
“For too long Castries has been a ghost town where persons come to work and leave the city after five and six,” Frederick remarked. He pointed out that the event seeks to support what he is trying to achieve by bringing life to the city.