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Saint Lucia: Jounen Kwéyòl Festivities (Creole Day)

On Sunday, Saint Lucia celebrated its annual Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day). The day of activities were the culmination of Creole Heritage Month. Other activities during this month included the Lawenn Kwéyòl Pageant (Creole Queen Pageant), Woulé Laba (underarm cricket) competition and the launch of the Harold Simmons Folk Academy. On Jounen Kwéyòl, selected communities host a fair where the Creole culture is celebrated through dress, music and most of all, food. The communities which hosted officially sanctioned events this year were Marigot, Patience (Mon Repos) and Vieux Fort.

Crowd gathering at the Marigot Playing Field to enjoy the festivities.

In the online group Saint Lucians Aiming for Progress (S.L.A.P) there were various comments about the continued significance of the Creole heritage and the way to develop the Jounen Kwéyòl celebration.

Felicia Browne called on Saint Lucians to embrace the language and the culture:

Embrace our mother language. It is a language in which our social and political culture have continued to shape our heritage and destiny. It is a language that our fore parents left behind to remind us that we must persevere against all odds. Kweyol is not ‘broken french’ but our very own African ancestral spirit which has continued to survive generation after generation. It is our way to connect and embrace each other.

lè ou di “bon maten ‘yon moun-li se yon fason ou nan di,’ mwen kontan ou se vivan. ‘Fè yon bon kweyòl jou.
(when you tell someone – ‘good morning'- it is your way of saying – ‘I am happy you are alive.’ Have a good Kweyol day :)

Brenda Paul-Jules felt that Jounen Kwéyòl gets more attention from the public than even Independence:

Imagine the hype over jounen kweyol and independence goes almost unnoticed. Is it because we simply don't identify with the concept and values of Independence? I've heard many stories of long ago. Jokes that make my belly hurt from laughter the story of Independence? I dont know! Doesn't it show that our heritage means more than our political achievements?

Megan Scapin, a student-teacher based in Saint Lucia wrote about her Jounen Kwéyòl experience at the Monchy Primary School:

Monchy Primary celebrates by allowing students to dress in their Kweyol fabric, which is basically different kinds of colorful plaid, instead of their uniforms. There [were] no classes on Friday, instead the day was spent playing, dancing, telling stories, and eating!

Tambou and bamboo

Men operating Cane Juice extractor

Frank Charles felt that the annual Jounen Kwéyòl celebration was so firmly entrenched that it no longer needed to be funded by the Government:

Observation: As I move around yesterday I notice lots of persons out there doing their own thing when it come to jounen kweyol. I believe the St. Lucian people [have] taken ownership of this celebration and it's time that the GOVERNMENT SHOULD GET OUT OF IT. In this…economy, since jounen kweyol is walking its own path, I strongly believe the government can use the money some[where] else.

Boy pushing a kabowé (toy car)

Jerry George posted photos and this video of a musical performance on his Facebook page.

Men tuning their banjo and violin

Man in the Castries Market making “lanmant” (mint) candy, known colloquially as “bull” and “comfort”

Breadfruit, green figs, plantain, cucumber and saltfish

The images in this post are by Bill Mortley and Jerry George, used with permission.

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