The smell of roasted meats, cooked to perfection with fresh and local seasoning, served with a personal choice of local ground provisions, roasted and fried bakes or steaming fresh local bread is about to fill the air. Madras of every cut, seam and shape will be fluttering along the roadsides in the cool October breeze and full-fledged wob dwiyet dresses will be paraded on stages. Dance, music and performance portraying all of Saint Lucia’s historical relevance will be sounded on street corners, radio stations and aired on television.
Despite the recent events of Hurricane Irma, there’s something to look forward to. If you don’t already know what’s coming, be prepared for a month-long celebration of cultural enrichment with the unfolding of yet another event from the Soleil calendar. The nationally anticipated and stomach satisfying Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day) will be escorted this year by an intentional and well-planned Arts & Heritage Festival, a new compliment of Creole Heritage Month.
On Wednesday September 6th, 2017 Thomas Leonce, Chief Executive Officer of Events Company Saint Lucia, made the introduction for a briefing of local media on the upcoming events for the Arts & Heritage Festival.
The exciting events for Creole Heritage Month will officially commence with a public launch on September 24th, 2017 at the Independence Square in Vieux Fort. Everyone is encouraged to come out and participate as the events planned are all committed to the public’s entertainment. Leonce noted, “The
celebrations will be staged along the length and breadth of Saint Lucia throughout the month of October,” with assurance of necessary protocol from the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) and the Saint Lucia Fire Service, and smooth execution. “We anticipate that this structure will provide greater effectiveness and efficiency going forward and we remain prepared as always to take any learning which would be coming out of it to further enhance the overall product.”
In his short speech, Leonce noted that Events Saint Lucia was only the provider of logistics for the upcoming festival and that the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) and Folk Research Centre (FRC) would engineer the bulk of the cultural planning. In comparison he said, “I just wish to indicate that the festivals do not belong to Events Saint Lucia nor to CDF nor to FRC. We are simply custodians at this point in time as they really belong to all of Saint Lucia.”
Saint Lucia has for the past thirty-three years hosted mass-crowd Jounen Kwéyòl events thirty-two times, the exception being October 2010 when Hurricane Tomas “washed the celebrations away”.
Hillary La Force, Chief Executive Officer of FRC, was pleased to present that Saint Lucia is the only creole-speaking country which celebrates culture with a Creole Day. It was a refreshing reminder when he noted, “Saint Lucia has definitely embraced this cultural festival and I can safely say and boast that it is the biggest cultural festival in Saint Lucia.”
In the past, Jounen Kwéyòl would be hosted in only one community, the last being Choiseul, which eventually became overwhelmed with crowds. Since then celebrations have been split between four locations on island; this year they will take place in the communities of Babonneau, La Ressource, Marigot and Vieux Fort.
Each community will have its own cultural aspect to offer during this year’s activities.
Babonneau will be a unique provider of meats and African traditions that have been preserved in the community, such as Solo.
The agricultural community of La Ressource, Dennery will deliver a farmers’ market of all locally appreciated produce such as farine and cassava, all with the backdrop of Lucian Kudoru (Dennery Segment).
Marigot, known for its unique and refined entertainment. will be hosting a mini music festival incorporating various European-influenced, cultural genres.
Southernmost and eccentric, Vieux Fort town, taking the role of a fishing village, will make available seafood along with other local delicacies.
In addition to the usual Creole Heritage Month activities such as Jennès Kwéyòl, La Wenn Kwéyòl, Oktoberfest and the Annual Storytelling and Poetry Evening, some other interactive events are planned on the national scale.
Dité Kwéyòl will be an event focused solely on our traditional teas and their benefits and Bal Kwéyòl will be a traditional ball of cultural and folk dance.
Drenia Frederick, Events Coordinator for the CDF, highlighted the change of atmosphere for the annual Icons Series and Artists’ Market (now Kwéyòl Market) which would both be hosted this year during the Arts & Heritage Festival, as opposed to during the Jazz & Arts Festival last year.
The cultural icon who will be celebrated this year is Garth St. Omer, Saint Lucia’s first novelist. A remarkable translation of prose to performance is expected for this event which will be hosted at the National Cultural Centre on October 2nd, 2017.
Kwéyòl Market will be set up for three days in Constitution Park prior to Jounen Kwéyòl. It will be an opportunity to “experience our culture in the vibe and buzz of the city” along with an exhibition in the Castries Town Hall.
The calendar for the Creole Heritage Month will be packed with cultural goodness including other accents like the La Marguerite Festival.
This year, under the new umbrella of the Arts & Heritage Festival, Events Saint Lucia, CDF and FRC promise to execute a Creole Heritage Month to quench all desires of the Saint Lucian population.