The Jounen Kwéyòl community celebrations mark their 30th anniversary this year. From the beginning the event was conceived and planned by the Folk Research Centre.
The day was first celebrated in 1983 on International Creole Day the 28th of October, with the major focus of the observance on radio. The day was observed with almost fifteen hours of Kwéyòl broadcasting on the national radio station, Radio St. Lucia. This was a historic day which will be remembered by many St. Lucians.
From eight o’clock in the morning, kwéyòl music was played. There were a number of special features including an interview with Earl Huntley, who had conceived and created the popular kweyol programme, “Radio-a sé sa nou.” The host of that programme was Sam ‘Juke Bois’ Flood who is still hosting kwéyòl programmes. There was also a special feature on local poets who have produced work in Kwéyòl. The major news events for that day were reported in kwéyòl.The highlight of the broadcast was a two hour link-up with DBS radio in Dominica.
However in 1984 the Jounen Kwéyòl began in the form that has become popular today.
The observance in 1984 marked the introduction of mass participation in the observance at the community level.
The first creole community day was held in Mon Repos, a small community on the east coast. After months of preparation, including meetings in Mon Repos with the recently established ‘gany kwéyòl’ (creole group) there, the programme was organized.
The day began with a Kwéyòl mass celebrated by Fr. Patrick Anthony, an ardent Kwéyòl campaigner and founder of the Folk Research Centre. Amidst the punctuation of Kwéyòl hymns, Kwéyòl intercession and prayers, his message was one of undiluted support for the language.
In his sermon, Fr. Anthony emphasized the need for cooperation in the restoration of the aspects of St. Lucian culture whose existence is threatened by external influences. The honouring of Sesenne Descartes, a St. Lucian chantwèl from Mon Repos ( later recognized as Dame Sesenne Descartes, Queen of folk, who died in 2010) which followed the mass was a precedent set.
In later years other folk heroes were recognized. Sesenne received a certificate inscribed in Kwéyòl, a trophy, flowers and numerous words and songs of praise. She in turn gave thanks in song with the rendition of “Manmay la di way” which has become one of St. Lucia’s classic folk songs.
For the rest of the day Sunday October 28th 1984, the atmosphere and mood was ‘kwéyòl’. It was a magnetic rallying theme for the St. Lucians who came from all over the island to witness the event. There were creole meals served in creole vessels, creole games including walaba (a unique St. Lucian version of cricket), creole toys such as wawa symbolizing the deep Christian influence on creole culture.
The other folklore legends who joined Sesenne in sharing with the people the richness of St. Lucia’s oral traditions were the late Eric Adley, Rameau Poleon and his Morne Gallion Band from the south of St. Lucia, Leonards John and Clifton Joseph, together with a group of folk dancers and singers from Piaye on the south west coast.
The participation of more youthful groups from Au Leon, Fond Assau and the Lapo Kabwit drummers from Castries added to the experience.
The other activities for that day included the sale of literature on Kwéyòl including the bilingual newspaper BALATA and a creole dance featuring kwadril groups from Mon repos, Vieux Fort and Castries.
Following is a table of venues which hosted Jounen Kwéyòl in subsequent years:
JOUNEN KWEYOL – THE YEARS AND THE VENUES
1984 Mon Repos
1985 Fond Assau
1987 La Ressource, Dennery
1988 Belle Vue, Vieux Fort
1989 Anse La Raye
1990 La Fargue, Choiseul
1991 1. Babonneau 2. Laborie 3. Mon Repos
1992 1. Monchy 2. Anse La Raye 3. Vieux Fort 4. Dennery
1993 1. Grande Riviere, Gros Islet 2. Desruisseaux 3. Piaye 4. Soufriere
1994 1. Micoud 2. Canaries 3. Gros Islet
1995 1. Belle Vue, Vieux Fort 2. Boguis, Babonneau) 3. Choiseul (La Fargue) 4. La Ressource, Dennery.
1996 1. Fond Assau 2. Micoud (Ti Rocher) 3. Monchy (La Feuillee)
4. La Croix Maingot 5. Soufriere (cancelled)
1997 1. Laborie 2. Roseau (Jacmel) 3. Grande Riviere (Gros Islet or Dennery??????????)
1998 1. Castries Central
1999 1. Piaye 2. Anse La Raye
2000 1. Babonneau (Boguis) 2. Vieux Fort 3. Gros Islet 4. Soufriere
2001 1. Monchy 2. Desruisseaux 3. Choiseul (La Fargue) 4. Canaries
2002 1. Anse La Raye 2. Babonneau (La Guerre) 3. Micoud 4. Laborie
2003 1. Soufriere 2. Vieux Fort 3. Mabouya Valley 4. Grande Riviere (Gros Islet)
2004 1. Mon Repos 2. Babonneau 3. Anse La Raye 4. Vieux Fort (Belle Vue)
2005 1. Anse La Raye 2. Dennery 3. Monchy 4. Laborie
2006 1. Odsan (Cul de Sac) 2. Babonneau (La Guerre)
2007 1. Vieux Fort (Belle Vue) 2. Soufriere (Fond St. Jacques) 3. Choiseul 4. Desrameaux (Monchy)
2008 1. Micoud 2. Piaye 3. Grande Riviere (Gros Islet) 4. Canaries
2009 1. Vieux Fort 2. Soufriere 3. Boguis
2010 Jounen Kweyol activities were cancelled due to the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas. It had been
scheduled to be held in Monchy, Fond Assau, Belle Vue, Dennery.
2011 Fond Assau, Dennery, Anse La Raye, Desruisseux, Laborie.
2012 Marigot, Vieux Fort
2013 Grande Riviere (Gros Islet), Soufriere, Mon Repos, Vieux Fort
2014 Anse La Raye, Dennery, Vieux Fort