St. Lucia is the only country in the world named after a historical female figure. The country’s population is 90 percent African and mixed African, with the remaining 10 percent being of British, West Indian and French origin. The Island, which is in the Caribbean, is historically known to have had many enslaved Africans working in very harsh conditions and under brutal owners.
St. Lucia has for a long time been a travel destination for several tourists all through the year, because of its rich culture. Now its ministry of tourism is working to promote other parts of its culture in order to encourage diversity.
One of its important cultures that survived many years is the Jounen Kweyol festival, which is considered St. Lucia’s biggest event, attracting the highest turn out of participants.
Face2Face describes the festival as an annual festival that takes place every year in October. The festival celebrates African culture and traditions that have survived slavery and colonization. It has been marked yearly since 1984 when it was held at the Folk Research Center, established in 1973 to help restore pride and study in African heritage and culture.”
However, it is very clear that their traditional cultural practices have greatly been influenced by both the French and British way of life. But unlike other societies who would rather put aside the foreign influence, St Lucia natives have chosen to embrace the foreign influence looking at it as adding a level of uniqueness to their culture.
On every last Sunday of October, St. Lucia natives dress up in colorful outfits that are made of Madras cloth. They then gather in traditional drumming and dance festival. Usually the festival starts with a mass service – majorly because 90 percent of the natives are Catholic – usually it is conducted in Kweyol, a language on the Island.
The festival, which attracts large numbers of people, has very many notable practices that make it quite unique. For instance, right after the mass service, traditional drumming and dance incites the people to bring the happiness of the celebrations. Then the Kwadril – a folk ballroom dance that has its roots from the European ‘Quadrille’ – is one of the most popular dances that characterize the festival.
Another very enjoyable practice that takes place during the festivals is the Island’s display of their various delicacies. Most of their rich food display involves prioritizing Green Fig (banana) and Salt Fish – which is actually St. Lucia’s National Dish. But not just anyone gets the chance to display the food, only the four selected towns chosen to host the festival.
The festival is one of the reasons, tourist from all over travel to the Island to witness its rich display of culture. Face2Face writes, “The Jounen Kweyol festival is a very significant yearly event for the people of St Lucia because it has helped restore their sense of African identity while finding a balanced way of preserving their culture and celebrating what it has become in modern times.”