This year’s Saint Lucia Jounen Kwéyòl activities were some of the best planned and well attended in recent times.
The host communities were Vieux Fort in the South, Babonneau in the North, Marigot in the West and Dennery in the East. The cultural showcases embodied all that is Kwéyòl. From the food to the music, the celebration paid respect to the culture of the past, which helped define who we are today.
I spent the majority of October 29th, 2017 in the village of Dennery. The atmosphere was electrified with excitement projected by the organizers, vendors, and persons who came to enjoy all the Kwéyòl, the community had to offer. Dennery Valley, along with the Saint Lucia Folk Research Centre, themed the day as “Pwézèvé, Protéjé Èk Fòtifyé Kwéyòl-La”, which translates as Preserve, Protect and Strengthen Creole. The streets were filled with people, both local and foreigners, dressed in Kwéyòl attire, as dress is another important aspect of the culture.
Incoherence with the tradition of Jounen Kwéyòl, the booths for food and drink were made from bamboo, coconut tree leaves, and vines. The smells, sounds, and sights only encouraged joy and evoked good spirits.
In one area, a stage was set up where singers and dancers, male and female, put on a display of traditional song and dance, reminiscent of a time where we were forging our own identity. The crowd was elated and many people sang and danced along to the music. In the vicinity, there was a room dedicated to artifacts used during the old days. How they were used was explained and shown. The room was crowded with enthusiastic young people intrigued by a variety of tools and household appliances on display.
Bamboo bursting is a traditional pass time of the youth and captivated many of the children who were being exposed to it directly, for the first time at Jounen Kwéyòl. Ovens made from old barrels, metal and clay as used in the past, baked Creole bread. The ovens are called Fou in Creole. Many people stood uneasily with anticipation as an elderly man stood on an elevated giant log to cut wood in the old fashion.
Locally made juices, rum and food was by far the star of the Jounen Kwéyòl activities. Saint Lucians love food and drink. Most of our gatherings involve these staples. As expected, there was great food which everyone seemed to be enjoying. Many of these meals are primarily prepared around this time every year and can definitely be called delicacies.
Jounen Kwéyòl is a special celebration many St. Lucians look forward to every year. Next year’s activities will be just as grand. If you missed this one, try not to miss next year. I didn’t get to really visit the other communities but from what I was told they were just as culturally exhilarating as Dennery.
I captured the day with many photos that are attached to this article. They will take you back to the experience.
Now that the Kwéyòl season is over, we are now preparing for Christmas. As with all else, we do it uniquely in Saint Lucia.