Dominican intellectuals highlight importance of UWI Dominica Country Conference

Cuffy is a senior lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire in the UK

Senior Lecturer at the University of the Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Violet Cuffy said the upcoming Dominica Country Conference, 2019 will focus on advancing creole heritage, Dominica’s culture and tourism and Kalinago people.

She spoke via a video conference at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus on Monday, July 15th , 2019.

UWI will be hosting its 3rd country conference at the campus, on August 15th and 16th, 2019 under the theme “Creole as Cultural Heritage: Framing, strengthening and Advocating.”

“The creole conference is really an initiative  as a part of a wider project which is focused on establishing a research intellect. The core focus is to ensure advancement of creole heritage and culture, a multi disciplinary reproach through the unique indigenous creole language, arts, storytelling, song and dance, tourism and of course our kalinago people,” Cuffy said. “In that regard, the networking activities aim to establish and sustain long term achievement of partnership between key actors and stakeholders on island, in the diaspora, among the Dominican communities and our sister creole speaking nationals far and wide.”

She said their primary aim is to establish a long term network between the Ministry of Culture, UWI, DSC, the University of Bedfordshire, among others.

Cuffy went on to explain what will take place at the two-day country conference.

“The conference begins with a cultural extravaganza on Wednesday evening, August the 14th where we will display  various dimensions of our local artists, dance, drama, song and story telling. In addition to that we will be graced with our lovely creole cuisines and establish the initial networking that we need to get to know each other,” she said.

She continued “A series of three sessions will be held on day one (August 15th)  with the first session called the”creole language, historical and contemporary perspective. The second session n the first day will focus on creole music and artistic cultural heritage…in the afternoon we have a session on policies in creolization, politics, education and tourism… and that will take us to the end of day one.”

Cuffy said on day two (August 16th)  the focus will be on national experts in Dominica creole education, popular creole music and creole in the media, among others.

A mixture of African and Kalinago players in a lapo kabwit band

Anthropologist and historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, in a presentation at the press launch, highlighted the role of African and Kalinago culture  in Dominica’s national heritage.

“Africans are recorded living in Kalinago villages as early as the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. There were Africans who had traveled back with Kalinago seafarers after their raids on neighboring islands or were deserters from ships that had stopped briefly in Dominica to refresh their crews,” Honychurch said.

He continued, “In Dominica Kwéyoalité had its roots in the early process of contact and cultural exchange that took place as West Africans adapted their continental experience to the more compact tropical island world of the Kalinagos. This interaction between these two alienated groups was evolving a form of Kwéyol culture on the edge of European influence. As the years progressed, traces of African languages, such as Yoruba, Twi, Ewe, Fon, Ibo, Ibibo, Nembe, Ashanti, Kru, Wolof, survived in the island’s language along with Kalinago. Likewise, aspects of material culture in the form of became intertwined.”

Dr. Honychurch also gave examples of the Kalinago names of places, plants, and animals that survive today.

“Their speech is filled with references to Kalinago place-names such as Colihaut, Calibishie, Coulibistrie, Bataka, Batali, Salybia, and Boeri. They also refer, for example, to cirique and touloulou (crabs), acouma, acajou, balata, and coubari (trees), zanana, cashima, cowossol, and zicaque (fruit), yen-yen and ariri (insects), abolo, zandoli (anoli), iguana, (reptiles) sibouli, vivaneau, balaou, couliou, titiwi (fish), batu, cali, canáoa, pwipwi (fishing equipment), and even the national bird, the sisserou.”

Honychurch said much of these African-Kalinago influences and skills are being lost as certain practices have been changing over the years.

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  1. marcus
    July 20, 2019

    I think some of the blame should be place on the Gov’t door step.There are some people at home and abroad who want to put their talent and resources to move the country forward and the government will not facilitate them.

  2. Franklyn Cuffy
    July 19, 2019

    Violet V. Cuffy PhD. at last your hard work and perseverance is bearing much fruit.
    I hope and pray that all concerned will play their part to make this venture benefit not only for this generation but for generation yet to be born.
    This is indeed a great effort to preserve our culture which is under threat by the many challenges today.

    • Kathrine Gittens
      July 20, 2019

      Glad to hear of the interesting cultural developments and learning experiences.

  3. Nacinimod
    July 19, 2019

    A three-day conference on creole heritage? Wow, that topic must be extremely important to engage world class academics in a domain of scholarship that only few intellectuals can appreciate. As the tag line of the Negro College Fund advertisement once said: a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  4. KaliNeg
    July 19, 2019

    :?: As far as I am concerned, most people on island don’t and can’t speak Kweyol/ Patwa! Those who speak to some extent, can’t don’t speak properly! It’s a shameful disgrace on our people for not being able to speak such lovely language!

  5. Darius
    July 19, 2019

    Where will the conference be held?

  6. Roger Burnett
    July 18, 2019

    I hope that the “intellectuals” will keep in mind in the establishment of their “research intellect” that the “key actors and stakeholders” of culture are not in academia but in the grass roots of Dominica.

    Without the grass roots Dominica’s culture will perish. Culture is not a performance for tourists or an academic thesis.

  7. Gouvelma
    July 18, 2019

    I hate when I hear reference to Dominican intellectuals. We have so many of them all around the world who have sold theor birth rights. Is it that they have intelligence but no vision? For all the years there has been the need for a UWI campus to meet the needs of the OECS countries where were they? Seems like when dominicans board a flight they dig up the runway as the plane is taking off never to return to invest or give of the wealth of knowledge and experience. They seem to go further by acquiring a new birth certificate. What good is it boasting of being a Dominican when you have cut the umbilical cord that ties you to Dominica? You become a multi millionaire and do not repatriate one cent as remittance. You become as wealthy as gold however you do not see a venue through which you can invest a cent in Dominica. So please continue hiding your identity and live your life without making reference to your Dominican heritage.

    • DAPossieMasse
      July 20, 2019

      @Gouvelma, I understand what you are saying. Dominicans just like to go googaga over intellectuals, symptomatic of why the country is in the state it is. Just accepting anything without critical analysis. On the contrary, too many Dominicans reject the fact that Dominica simply does not have the academic facilities, consequently one needs to leave for the purpose of higher education. The more one learns is the more the individual should realize how much little information has been acquired, because there is so much more out there.

      Too many of them leave DA and return on vacation just to show their behinds with cheap clothes on sale from for example-in a flee market. Remember the individual who wrote about Dominicans leaving in basement but return home yanking, and pretending not to remember patois until a r@@ man help them to remember with some colorful language.

      I really understand your take no matter your motive.

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