The month of October is once again being observed here as Creole Heritage month. And while the month will feature a number of activities island-wide, the highlight of course will be the annual Jounen Kwéyòl celebrations, which will be observed on Sunday October 27. Executive Director of the Folk Research Center (FRC), Hilary La Force, continues to lament the financial struggles the event faces, despite its necessity he says in preserving our cultural heritage and being an important aspect of the lives of the people of Saint Lucia.
La Force has also consistently argued that Jounen Kwéyòl and not Carnival is the island’s main cultural activity as it touches many more lives and communities and impacts more directly from the economic benefits on the lives of Saint Lucians. Despite this however, Carnival continues to receive the greatest chunk of the Government’s budget for cultural activities, as well as being well-supported by the private sector.
Despite the hurdles, Jounen Kwéyòl has survived thirty long years since being launched here in 1984. Save for 2010, when hurricane Tomas struck the island on the same day that Jounen Kwéyòl would have been celebrated, the event has drawn massive crowds to the various venues each year. On the Friday preceding the weekend of activities a number of schools and business houses also host their own in house activities marking the occasion.
Last month the FRC announced the host communities for Creole Heritage Month 2013 and Jounen Kwéyòl. They are Grande Rivière, Gros Islet, Mon Repos, Soufrière and Vieux Fort. Vieux Fort was one of the two host communities for last year’s activities and the community has decided to host Jounen Kwéyòl again in 2013 because of the overwhelming success of 2012.
On Sunday September 29, the FRC launched the official program for Creole Heritage Month at the Babonneau RC Church Grounds. The activity featured performances by Mamai La Caye, the Flamboyant Dancers, Anbas Morne Solo group, Garrand Solo group, Addition band, Secret band and Creole comedy by Pin Juk.
On Thursday sponsors came forward to present their sponsorship checks to the FRC. One such sponsor is telecommunications company LIME. “We are really excited about being a part of the activity this year once again and being able to step up to the plate and help out with this year’s Creole heritage month activities,” says LIME’s Terry Finisterre. LIME is supporting the event through a cash donation as well as offering communications, advertising and marketing assistance.
“LIME has been a main sponsor for a number of years and this year they are providing EC$25,000, which is EC$5000 for each of the communities and five thousand to the FRC,” La Force disclosed.
Bank of Saint Lucia and CFL is also on board this year with the FRC and Creole Heritage month. “This year we continue with our support, in particular with the Creole literacy program as well as the La Wenn Kwéyòl pageant, and we felt that despite the economic challenges, as patrons of the arts it was really important for us to do so,” says Omari Frederick of Bank of Saint Lucia.