Dame Descartes to be celebrated during Jounen Kwéyòl Festivities in New York

Dame Descartes to be celebrated during Jounen Kwéyòl Festivities in New York
Dame Marie Selipha Descartes
Dame Marie Selipha Descartes

In observance of Jounen Kwéyòl 2014, the Consulate General of Saint Lucia in New York and the Saint Lucia House Foundation have co-organized a special event in honor of the late Dame Marie Selipha Descartes, best known as Sesenne, Saint Lucia’s Queen of Culture.

This event, dubbed a Kwéyòl Celebration: La Rose and La Margaret Festival, will be held on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 7:00PM at the Saint Lucia House, located at 438 E 49th Street, between Snyder and Church Avenues in Brooklyn.

While the focus of this event is to celebrate Saint Lucia’s two main flower festivals, it will provide an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable contributions of Descartes, a truly iconic Saint Lucian. Born in 1913, she was the grand dame of Saint Lucian folk culture,a chantwell of extraordinary talent, and a central figure in the revival of the folk song and dance traditions.

First singled out for her outstanding vocal talent when she was about eighteen years old, Descartes has many glorious moments in her career as a renowned entertainer. As just one example, she was awarded the British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) in 1972. Perhaps no moment brought her more joy and satisfaction as the night of October 28, 1984 when she was publicly proclaimed the “Queen of Culture in St. Lucia,” a tribute both well-deserved and graciously received.

Jounen Kwéyòl celebrations continue on Monday, October 20, with the opening of The Kwéyòl Exhibition: Saint Lucian Collection depicting our rich Saint Lucian cultural history through folk artifacts, crafts, books, and other literature. To commemorate this event, the Consulate General of Saint Lucia has organized a Kwéyòl reception scheduled for Monday, October 20 at 6:ooPM at the Saint Lucia Consulate, located at 800 Second Ave, 5th Floor, between 42nd and 43rd Streets in Manhattan.The Kwéyòl Exhibition will run through October 23, open each day from 10:00AM to 4:30PM at the Consulate.

On Friday, October 24, the Saint Lucian Night of Culture and Storytelling will be held at the Saint Lucia House, promising to be a fun-filled evening highlighting and celebrating several aspects of our tremendously rich cultural tradition.

This year’s celebrations will culminate on the grounds of the Saint Lucia House with an Official Jounen Kwéyòl Celebration slated to start at 10:00AM on Sunday, October 26. The focus of this final event will be on authentic Saint Lucian cuisine and beverages. On stage throughout the event will be folk storytellers, La Wòz groups, Kwéyòl music and dance, quadrille music and dance, and a Kwéyòl musical bash featuring Saint Lucian artiste Keran Deterville, as well as a host of other performers of original Kwéyòl songs in popular music genres.

October is also International Creole Month, celebrated in Saint Lucia with a variety of activities spearheaded by the Folk Research Centre (Plas Wichès Foklò). International Creole Day-Jounen Kwéyòl Entennasyonnal is observed on Monday, October 27.

For more information about these events, please contact the Consulate General in New York at (212) 697-9360 or via e-mail at [email protected]; contact the Saint Lucia House Foundation via e-mail at [email protected]


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  1. When she was alive and relevant, no one, absolutely no one, recognized her. No that she is dead and gone, every Tom, Dik, and Harry crawling under their rocks to honour her of some sort!!


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