Monday, October 24 saw the staging of a pageant that didn’t just bring out the best of the best in young talent on the island, but proved in a big way that the island’s Creole culture isn’t dead—not even close! Eight secondary school students from around the island competed in the Folk Research Centre’s first ever Jennes Kweyol pageant held at the National Cultural Centre and although there could only be one winner, all students proved they had some serious star potential.
It was clear from the start that contestants were putting their all into the performances—from the talent segment to Creole fashion, all the way to the final aspect of the show where they were required to show command of the Creole language in the form of an address—something most did flawlessly, speaking fluently and not missing a beat. The topic of discussion was along the lines of how they as young people in society could make a contribution towards the development of Creole culture.
The show was an explosion of talent if there ever was one—particularly the masqueraders who made a special appearance. Contestants took a typical pageant theme and made it their own, some adding comical touches or throwing in dance moves in the fashion segment. The audience of mostly students supported whole-heartedly, participating in back and forth Creole chants by contestants and the Master of Ceremonies.
First up was Leon Hess Comprehensive’s Leonce Shevron Leoncie then came Micoud Secondary’s Yonley Barker with a piece called, ‘‘Vieux Madam Tété Gwiji.” Although he didn’t make the top spot, there was loads of support for the competition’s sole male participant.
A teacher from Micoud Secondary told the STAR: “I’m not so sure it was a fair judging because he went up against seven girls, but that’s my personal opinion. It’s just natural—there’s no forum where you can compare girls and boys in that manner, the way they walk, talk—women do things differently from men. It just cannot be compared.”
Nevertheless the show went on with Furnnel James, a form four student of St Joseph’s Convent who showed not an ounce of shyness. Within her presentation, she compared modern Dancehall and Soca to Zouk and Country music. James secured the third place spot in the Creole oriented pageant.
It was clear from the start Vide Bouteille Secondary’s Hazelrose Lawrence was a crowd favourite. Her confidence onstage was applaud-worthy as her dramatic piece unfolded. She spoke about young people and their way of life. She touched on the negatives and some positives that could be incorporated to make the world a better place.
Bocage Secondary’s Ria Alexander was contestant number five. Then came the winning performance from Sir Ira Simmon’s Yvana David who rendered Godzilay’s “Koute Manmaw” tune. Yvana’s talent was coordinated by Silver Shadow’s Barry George. When the STAR spoke to the school’s Vice Principal early Tuesday morning he said the school was in the middle of planning a surprise motorcade leading the form five student into the school.
Corinth Secondary’s participant graced the stage after that, but not before what was perhaps one of the most entertaining performances of the day by Gros Islet Secondary’s Luvillia Phillip. She started off with dance moves from one of the most popular Dancehall hits, “Tell You Say” by Vybz Kartel, adding the ‘dutty wine,’ comically injuring her neck, then switching things up to prove Creole music and dance could be just as exciting, even quickly changing into Creole wear onstage. Luvillia kept her performance strong up to the end, and even when there was a glitch with her music she didn’t miss a beat—something that may have helped her secure the second place spot.
“She’s taken part in other pageants and public speaking competitions on the school level and this time around she missed first place by less than a mark,” one of Luvillia’s teachers told the STAR. “She’s a prefect and is one of our model students. We’re very happy about her performance. We think this was very good exposure for her.
She likes to express herself, especially in native aspect. We know she might be a little disappointed; she worked very hard and we think this is the beginning of things to come for her. She’s very much in touch with whole Creole aspect of St Lucia.”
At the end of it all, show organizer Christopher Duncan from the FRC told the STAR: “This is the first time we’re having this show, the FRC has been talking about it, and wanting to put it on. This year we collaborated with CAMDU to do this. It was wonderful, everything we expected and more. The important thing is, the youth are definitely the pillars of the culture tomorrow and they are showing they can carry on. We have nothing to worry about. All who are worrying about culture dying, that’s a myth. Culture is growing, culture is dynamic, culture will be infused with other things but it’s going to remain.”