Promote the Culture
Love our Kweyol Too!
Bon jou tout moun. Ou dwé ka katchilé, an pami tout diféwans sijé, ki sa pwemyé
minis la kay di jodi-a? Apadi sa, ou dwé ka mandé ko’w, pou ki wézom chef la
koumansé konvésasyon sa la an langaj kwéyol la. Wézon an byen semp. Mwen vlé
kozé asou langaj kwéyol la, èk kilti kwéyol nou. Annou wéfléshi asou fèt lawoz
ki ti Lendi pasé, toute sé moun la ki ka tjenn twadisyon nou vivan èk koumansé
fè pwepawasyon pou fèt magwit èk mwa Oktob lè St. Lisyen kay sélébwé hewitaj ek
kilti nou ansanm.
A SUCCESSFUL LA WOZ
In parting last Monday, I wished all Saint Lucians a bon fete la woz. Last week
fifteen groups participated in the celebrations, and by all accounts successful,
enjoyable and as is customary with all our traditional cultural activities,
incident free. Among the highlights of the celebrations were the re-emergence of
two groups from the Dennery area, one of which was dormant for the past ten
years. For the first time the celebrations were held over a two day period with
thousands of persons attending the church service in Vieux-Fort on Sunday épi
tout se gan’y la ka bwiyé lawoz on Monday 30th August. I am sorry I missed that
service because of a very late invitation.
THANKS TO THE LEADERS
I want all Saint Lucians to join me in congratulating all the persons who work
hard to keep the tradition alive. Among the leaders were Captain Luther of the
Blanchard group, Chantwèlle Mary Flora Granger of Ma Bébé’s group in Choiseul,
and Chantwèlles from Mon Repos, Babonneau and all other communities.
CULTURE STRENGTHENS THE SPIRIT
La woz remains strong and vibrant because, amidst all the challenges of our
society today, people have recognised the need to hold on to something which
strengthens the spirit, inspires our creative responses to changes around us and
creates bonds in communities. The call for us to rally around our culture is
captured in many of the marching songs of the flower festivals.
Annou désann mamay lawoz
Annou désann mamay Sent Lisi
Si nou pa bwiyé, nou kay mo.
While we hold onto to lawoz, and la magwit, I urge you to continue expressing
tremendous pride in all cultural traditions and in particular the Kwéyol
language. The language is important, not merely for its colour and flair and as
a means of connecting to the rich traditions of our parents and grand parents,
but also as a means of sharing the feelings and thoughts of our people in the
most direct yet respectful manner.
Indeed, that continues to be the tenor of our proverbs. Our Proverbs have said a
lot to generations. Consider these.
Sa ki ka ba-ou konsèy gayen chouval gwo vant an tan lapli pa ka endé’w nouwi’y
an tan sèk . Translated, this proverb says: He who give you advice to buy an big
horse with a large appetite in the rainy reason does not help you feed it in the
Here is another one. Sé pa tout lè maman alé an la plas pou i mennen bonbon.
This one means: It is not every time a mother goes to a market she must bring
And of course, there is this one captured in verse and song for many years: Lè
bab kamawad ou pwi difé wouzé sa-ou. When your friend’s beard is on fire take
water to wet yours. Put another way: when your friend is in trouble, watch
Ever since the beginning of kwéyol programmes on radio in the early seventies,
many Saint Lucians have developed the confidence to express themselves, and
share their views on a wide range of issues affecting their daily lives. The
demands for better community services, roads, electricity and clean water are
made just as effective in Kwéyol as in English. Perhaps the warmest of embraces
I have experienced as a parliamentarian and a leader of this country has been
prefaced by greetings in Kwéyol.
THE FATHER OF CULTURAL RESEARCH
In 1957, the late Harold Simmons, artist, folklorist, father of St. Lucian
cultural research and the institutional mentor of the Folk Research Centre
opened a debate about the use of the kwéyol language in the society. As the
editor of the then conservative Voice of St. Lucia newspaper, Simmons exhorted
St. Lucians to appreciate the language and use it freely and constructively in
everyday conversations. One of his memorable cartoons in the newspaper portrayed
the transition from sugar to banana production with the caption: “Sé mwen fig ki
vini pou koupé kou kann”
Ever since the courageous work of Harry Simmons, the research and promotion of
culture and kwéyol in our society took off. Numerous local and international
meetings have been held in St. Lucia where a writing system was developed for
the language and several instruction booklets and anthologies of creative
writing have been published. The first kwéyol dictionary was published by the
great educator, Jones Mondesir in 1992. We have a lot to be proud of and to
During my recent visit to Athens for the twenty eighth Olympics, I was struck by
the manner in which Greek culture was brought to life with impeccable artistry
and colour at the opening ceremony of the games. The promotion of culture at a
world class sporting event like the Olympics must have lessons for all of us. As
most of you who watched this ceremony would have realised that in the Greek
written language St. Lucia was placed first in the parade of nations. Is there
something that Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott knew that many of us did not know,
when he wrote his epic poem Omeros? Is this a message for us to continue to
promote and appreciate our culture. I invite you to reflect on these thoughts.
CREOLE HERITAGE MONTH
As we prepare to observe Creole Heritage Month in October, we must continue to
pay tribute to all those persons who made the promotion of the language and
other expressions of our culture part of their daily lives. How many of us
remember Captain Eliud from Belle Vue, this master shantè whose voice echoed
though many community halls around the island particularly at the séances and
during the celebrations of the lawoz. How many us remember Liza Maxwell of
Goodlands, community organiser of both the La Woz and La Magwit celebrations.
Liza’a was always humble and gracious in song:
“Pwédyé pou nou
Pwédyé pou mamay lawoz.
Pwédyé pou nou
Pwédyé pou Sent Rose de Lima
How many of us remember Ruby York and Egbert Mathurin who passed on recently but
have left behind their own indelible marks on our cultural landscape. And of
course there are numerous other chantwèlles, chantèurs, and dancers, some of
whom are alive and walk through our communities un-noticed. I urge you, whenever
you can, to pay tribute to those persons in any small and humble way you can.
Among the cultural icons with us today are Sesenne Descartes, Clifton “Doo-doo”
Joseph, chantè and dancer of Piaye, Florita Marquis of Canaries. I urge all
Saint Lucians to continue to reach out to our cultural icons.
CREOLE HERITAGE MONTH
Creole Heritage Month will be organised again through the joint efforts of the
Folk Research Centre, the St. Lucia Heritage Programme and the Cultural
Development Foundation. There will be a wide range of activities intended to
bring Saint Lucians to places of cultural and historical importance. There will
be the celebration of Jounen Kwéyol in four communities and of course above all
there will be many opportunities for all of us to do something positive and
constructive to promote our culture and pay homage to those persons who have
kept the traditions alive.
I urge you to do your part. Until next Monday, mwen ka swété tout jan Sent Lisi
an péyi-a èk oliwon late-a , an bon simen an la pé èvèk lanmou. Bon Jou.