By Dr. Hyacynthia M. Leonce-James
St. Lucians of South Florida and I celebrated our Kweyol Day (Creole Day) Sunday, October 30, 2016. As a St. Lucian-American I only began celebrating this fete approximately five years ago. I left the Island of St. Lucia when I was two years old and did not experience the culture in its truest form like others who grew up in St. Lucia.
As the St. Lucians in Miami celebrated Jounen Kweyol put on by the St. Lucian Association of South Florida Inc., I felt a sense of home and awe like I’m just where I should be.
The St. Lucian Association of South Florida has been in existence over 30 years.
I got a chance to speak with Monica Victor who is the current president of the Association. Monica has been involved in the Association for over 15 years, and has served in various positions. She was elected as President in February of this year and plans to take the Association to new levels.
Monica exclaimed, “We St. Lucians are a very patriotic people and we embrace every opportunity to highlight our culture, our heritage and so no matter where we roam we celebrate Creole Day/Jounen Kweyol in a little or big way. It’s a festival that St. Lucians all over the world anticipate and celebrate with enthusiasm —with creole cuisine such as our national dish green fig and salt fish and the music that our parents and fore-parents enjoyed—songs from our Queen of Culture the late Sesenne Descartes, music, good conversation. And it is always such a sight to behold when men, women and children show up in large numbers wearing their madras—St. Lucia’s National wear or semblances of it— a madras hat or skirt, tie or head-band. Something just a little something to highlight the madras and creole flare. It’s just an all-around beautiful celebration that takes us back to St. Lucia our island home and most importantly to keep our culture alive, the traditions of old folks alive and to introduce the little ones to the culture which is very important in ensuring the survival of our heritage.”
This Jounen Kweyol did not disappoint as the Sounds of Helen Band played songs that you would hear at a traditional Lucian party.
“Creole Day is a celebration of our culture, heritage and history. It is how we keep ‘us’ St. Lucians alive. This is also how and why the band Sounds of Helen come to be. The love of music, our culture, and our people bring us together to share ourselves with the world,” said Avril Emmanuel, the band manager.
The DJ certainly came down with some MUSIC! Keith Joseph (aka DJ Tiger) had people dancing all day with traditional and current songs of St. Lucia and other islands.
When asked why he is so popular DJ Tiger response was, “I’ve been playing music for years in New York; however, I only started playing seriously for the last three years. “I play for everybody, I play music for grown people, I play what people want to hear.”
With a shameless plug Tiger continued, “I give reasonable prices and people should definitely call me to get the best deal possible at (347) 728-7509.”
Last but not least the food was delicious.
St. Lucian delicacies are generally made up of West African, French, and East Indian dishes. The green fig and salt fish, our traditional dish, was slamming. I also had bake and salt fish which was also good, hot and moist. I’m not a drinker but I was told that the spiced rum hit the right spot. I enjoyed my evening. Who knew that a piece of St. Lucia was situated right here in South Florida? What can I say? I’m right at home.