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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


In a brief FB comment, Kenny Bakie (former Manager of HOT FM and indeed my good friend) hinted at the consideration of the hosting of “Jounen Ehdianne”. In this “guava season” I’m sure it’s an initiative that the commercial sector would run away with, but what are the implications? Wouldn’t a "Jounen Endyen" lead to a sense of exclusivity and possibly cultural fragmentation? Perhaps, if Kenny listened more closely to Leonette Pierre's Palé Kwéyòl (, then he might have conceded that “Jounen Ehdianne” [in a strictly St. Lucia(n) context] may be deeply culturally embedded in Jounen Kwéyòl.

Leonette sang: "Madam, si ou sé on Sent Licien, memn si ou sé an Endyen . . . Palé Kwéyòl".  In fact throughout the song, she advocates a cultural integration by encouraging St. Lucian irrespective of identity to Palé Kwéyòl.

There's no doubt that St. Lucia is a nation of “mixed ethnicities” integrated into a whole: Amerindian, African, European, Chinese, Indian, Syrian etc. Our Kweyol may well be the one “cultural” common denominator that identifies and even differentiates us as St. Lucians. It goes far beyond the parochial Afrocentric view which seems to influence our interpretation and orientation. The global view is Kweyol is not just a language; it’s a way of life which captures a conflation of diverse cultures in a unique and dynamic way.

Leonette’s line - "Madam, si ou sé on Sent Licien, memn si ou sé an Endyen . . . Palé Kwéyòl" - dovetails neatly into the popular expression “Kweyol Kouli” (or “Kouli Kweyol”). Indeed some of the signature Indian cultural practices (like roti and dhal) have become irreversibly kweyolised to the point that they are inextricably embedded into the culture of St. Lucia. What more evidence therefore do we need to prove that kweyol runs naturally in the “Endyen blood” or vice versa?

The Endyens in Augier, Balca, Forestierre are as quintessionally Kweyol as the rest of St. Lucia. So are the persons of Amerindian descendants in Choiseul and our Shabins in Saltibus, Martin, Ponyon, Mongouge etc.

The Chappy's from Delcer are pure Caucasian; but who in St. Lucia spoke more or better Kweyol than them?

Country and Western (C&W) has arguably become the biggest “continental” component of our Kweyol to the point where Linus Modeste is referred to as the black George Jones. In fact, C&W has become so Kweyolised that we now affectionately refer to it as "Bwa". It is peripatetic and may have even overshadowed the other dance forms.

Contrary to the elite "city-centric" view that phenomena like "Bwa" are “Kweyol idiosyncrasies”, the reality is they are not.  If they were, then the very “hard core” of our cultural identity could arguably also be classified as idiosyncratic; but we are a proud people with values and customs which are dynamic. The fact that our “unofficial” national dish of green fig and saltfish does not comprise exclusively local foods does not take away anything away from us. The point is while our cultural identity must be exclusive (to an extent), it must never be exclusionary.

Even our national Flower Festivals (La Rose and La Marguerite) - the very essence of our Kwéyòl soul - did not originate here or from the mother country either. Anecdotal data from the Catholic Church archives suggest that the La Rose has Peruvian origin, hence the term “St. Rose de Lima” – Lima being the capital of Peru.

In fact, if we were to remove all the non-St. Lucian components from our Kweyol, then what would we be left with? The core of our identity would probably be seriously exposed to the elements! Just remember, like America, St. Lucia too is a nation of immigrants.

Leonette’s song is indeed a very serious “Kweyol” commentary which gives an apt historical (and telling philosophical) analysis/description of Kwéyòl at “a point in time” (which may have even been extended to the present). 

“Boots” and “Fish” and perhaps many of our Kweyol historiographers (like Dr’s Jn Pierre & Monsignor Patrick Anthony) were probably not “born in Kweyol” yet when she wrote the song . . . even if she may chronologically younger than them.

There is an “hypothesis” that the Kweyol neo-Cultural Revolution partly began in Choiseul with unsung heroes like Mc Authur Phillip, “Bolo”, Thecla Fontenard, the late Sabinus Thomas, Mr Dodo, Piaye Community Dancers etc. Those guys/ladies proactively marketed Kweyol at a time when there was a looming threat of marginalisation and even obsolescence. I'm aware that Laborie, Veux Fort North, Soufriere, etc were also in the vanguard of the renaissance.

Some Caribbean sociologist/historians contend that the Kweyol language was prevalent in Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada during the days of slavery and beyond but fizzled out with time and was eventually replaced by an English dialect. Fortunately, the St. Lucian’s went the other direction. We survived those threat of extinction - thanks to our resilience; Yes! “Rural St. Lucia” got its fair share of ridicule by the “brighter” city folk calling us “Neg Mawon” for our Kweyol culture; but that didn’t deter us.

It is instructive that the tables have now turned. The “Neg Mawons” have now been “rediscovered” as heroes by the Columbus’s of the city.

Much kudos are in order for the “post-Neg Mawon” heroes and their work. They constitute a diaspora far and wide fitted inside a little speck of dust. In Kweyol’s darkest days, they went on to ensure sustainability which helped shaped the renaissance. It was also during that tail-end of Cultural Renaissance that Leonette wrote and recorded the timeless classic Palé Kwéyòl.

It was no accident that Choiseul was chosen District to host the first historic Jounen Kweyol in 1984. That laid the platform for future successes. The first theme - “Kweyol an san nou” - (which was crafted by Choiseulians) is the mother of all themes.

Perhaps the Ministry of Creative Industries should consider the commissioning of more organised research of the models and modalities of that “epoch” that may have shaped the Kweyol Renaissance. That was the period when St. Lucia was transitioning from “Patois” to English but in the transition we made the Kweyol better and gave it greater legitimacy.

By the way, I have to pay tribute guys like Musa and his group, Lapo Kabwit, Ma Bébé, Mr Wowo, Rameau Poleon, the Soufriere Action Theatre (SAT) and the numerous groups around St. Lucia for their sterling contribution to the preservation of our Kweyol.

I’m so proud of my Kweyol; and I’m so happy that I can speak it. I may never live to see the day when Kweyol literature will be become an integral part of Lucian Literature and as a subject on our school curriculum; but I have faith it will happen one day. 

Friday, October 4, 2013


The article below is reproduced from Torrent Freak:

The London School of Economics and Political Science has released a new policy brief urging the UK Government to look beyond the lobbying efforts of the entertainment industry when it comes to future copyright policy. According to the report there is ample evidence that file-sharing is helping, rather than hurting the creative industries. The scholars call on the Government to look at more objective data when deciding on future copyright enforcement policies.

Over the past years there have been ample research reports showing that file-sharing can have positive effects on the entertainment industries.

Industry lobbyists are often quick to dismiss these findings as incidents or weak research, and counter them with expensive studies they have commissioned themselves.

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) jumps into the discussion this week with a media policy brief urging the UK Government to look beyond the reports lobbyists hand to them. Their report concludes that the entertainment industry isn’t devastated by piracy, and that sharing of culture has several benefits.

“Contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits. Revenues from digital sales, subscription services, streaming and live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records,” says Bart Cammaerts, LSE Senior Lecturer and one of the report’s authors.

The report shows that the entertainment industries are actually doing quite well. The digital gaming industry is thriving, the publishing sector is stable, and the U.S. film industry is breaking record after record.

“Despite the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) claim that online piracy is devastating the movie industry, Hollywood achieved record-breaking global box office revenues of $35 billion in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011,” the report reads.

Even the music industry is doing relatively well. Revenue from concerts, publishing and digital sales has increased significantly since the early 2000s and while recorded music revenues show a decline, there is little evidence that piracy is the lead cause.

“The music industry may be stagnating, but the drastic decline in revenues warned of by the lobby associations of record labels is not in evidence,” the report concludes.

The authors further argue that file-sharing can actually benefit the creative industries in various ways.

The report mentions the success of the SoundCloud service where artists can share their work for free through Creative Commons licenses, the promotional effect of YouTube where copyrighted songs are shared to promote sales, and the fact that research shows that file-sharers actually spend more money on entertainment than those who don’t share.

“Within the creative industries there is a variety of views on the best way to benefit from online sharing practices, and how to innovate to generate revenue streams in ways that do not fit within the existing copyright enforcement regime,” the authors write.

Finally, the report shows that punitive enforcement strategies such as the three strikes law in France are not as effective as the entertainment industries claim.

The researchers hope that the U.K. Government will review the Digital Economy Act in this light, and make sure that it will take into account the interests of both the public and copyright holders.

This means expanding fair use and private copying exceptions for citizens, while targeting enforcement on businesses rather than individuals.

“We recommend a review of the DEA and related legislation that strikes a healthy balance among the interests of a range of stakeholders including those in the creative industries, Internet Service Providers and internet users.”

“When both [the creative industries and citizens] can exploit the full potential of the internet, this will maximize innovative content creation for the benefit of all stakeholders,” the authors write.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Nelson King

NEW YORK, United States, Monday September 30, 2013, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he plans to intensify efforts in addressing the issue of Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery when he assumes the chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) early in the new year.

“When I take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in January I hope to get letters to Europe,” Gonsalves, who is here for the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Debate, told a standing-room-only town hall meeting in Brooklyn late Saturday.

“We’re going for reparations because of state-sponsored genocide and state-sponsored slavery”, he added.

“Europe, by engaging us in this matter, can make us more free,” he continued. “We need reparations, but we need available resources.”

The Vincentian leader, who has been taking the lead in CARICOM on the issue, said efforts at seeking reparations from Europe are “not a conversation about protests.

“This is a serious conversation to see what is the legacy,” he said. “I’m not a little boy holding up a placard. I’m the Prime Minister of an independent country.”

Gonsalves warned that, as the reparations issue gains ground, European governments and their “agencies” are already “finding means to divide the Reparations Movement,” adding that “Reparations is for all of us.”

He noted that when former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide first raised the issue of reparations, in the early 2000s, from France, “the French Government organized for Aristide to – let me put it nicely – to go into voluntary exile.”

Gonsalves said some European governments and diplomats have stated that the reparations matter should not be adopted by governments but by the people.“But I represent the people, I speak for them,” Gonsalves retorted.

“Reparations are to repair the consequences,” he added. “The British carried out and killed 80 percent of the Callinago [St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ indigenous people].

“We’re looking at the legacy – the problems in education, in health,” he continued. “In the Caribbean, people of African descent have higher incident of diabetes and high blood pressure than elsewhere. How come in West Africa you don’t have that?”

Gonsalves said his country’s hosting of the recent, first-ever Regional Conference on Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery was the first step in the Caribbean's quest to “address and redress a psychic, historical, socio-economic, and developmental wound that is, for CARICOM, 14 nations wide and 400 years deep.

“The genocidal oppression and suffering of my country's indigenous Callinago, the Garifuna, and enchained Africans have been rightly adjudged to have been a horrendous crime against humanity,” he told the UN General Assembly last week.

“Accordingly, the collective voice of our Caribbean civilisation ought justly to ring out for reparations for native genocide and African slavery from the successor states of the European countries, which committed organised state-sponsored native genocide and African enslavement. 

The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity – a legacy which exists today in our Caribbean – ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples,” he added.

“The historic wrongs of native genocide and African slavery, and their continuing contemporary consequences, must be righted, must be

repaired, in the interest of our people's humanization,” he continued.

Gonsalves urged European nations to “partner in a focused, especial way with” the Caribbean in executing this “repairing.”

“Thus, the demand for reparations is the responsibility not only of the descendants, in today's Caribbean, of the Callinago, the Garifuna, the Amerindian, and the African. It is undoubtedly an agenda for all of us to advance, to promote, to concretise, and to execute,” he said.

The Vincentian leader said the struggle for reparations represents, immediately, a defining issue for the Caribbean in this 21st century, stating that it promises to make both Europe and the Caribbean “more free, more human, more good-neighbourly.”

Recently, CARICOM decided to place the quest for reparations at the centre of its developmental agenda.

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas told the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly that he was joining with CARICOM Member States in supporting the case for reparation associated with the atrocities of slavery.

Douglas said that though the repercussions of slavery “on the lives of those of our ancestors cannot be quantified, we are convinced that the deleterious effects which, even now, are translated into much hardship and poverty for the descendents of our ancestors, must be resolved.”

Nelson A. King

While speaking on the erection of a memorial at the UN in honor of the victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller also said she was supportive of the call for an international discussion on the issue but in a “non-confrontational manner.”

“We fully support the initiative for a declaration of a Decade for Persons of African Descent,” she declared.

Jose Francisco Avila, the Honduran-born chairman of the the Bronx, New York-based Garifuna Coalition, USA, Inc., who attended the town hall meeting with Prime Minister Gonsalves, said he looks forward to working with the CARICOM Reparations Commission, along with Garifuna representatives from the Diaspora, “in seeking justice for the crime of genocide committed against our ancestors by the British.