Head of University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus-Dominica, Kimone Joseph has emphasized the importance of creole culture to the Dominican identity and said that our heritage must be seen as critical in all our efforts for national development.
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.”
“When my staff decided to embark on country conferences in the academic year 2015-2016, we had the idea…that we would host these every three/four years,” Joseph stated during the the press launch of the Conference on Monday. “After all the past three strategic plans, our institution has placed tremendous significance on two elements that make country conferences ideal and those are research and outreach. Yet, here we are in 2019, waist deep in plans for the third country conference in four academic years.”
According to the UWI official, in the 2017 to 2022 strategic plan of UWI, there is a call for the university to provide access, alignment and agility.
“The hosting of the Dominica Country Conference is directly related to all three themes as we seek to bring researchers, practitioners and the general public together, to share and participate in the process of examining creole heritage in all its forms and allowing space for ideas on the paths we want its development to take in Dominica,” Joseph added.
She said this ground breaking event which is free and open to the public, will bring together cultural leaders, academics, professionals and students to discuss creole cultural heritage issues and exchange ideas .
Meantime Chief Cultural Officer, Raymond Lawrence has said that Dominicans have to appreciate and embrace both the traditional and contemporary aspects of their culture.
“In Dominica, we have now come to better understand and appreciate what we describe as our creole culture which embraces both the traditional and contemporary aspects which is inclusive to our language, cuisine, creole wear, music, dance, arts and crafts…and the list goes on,” he stated.
Lawrence continued, “Our culture is what I can describe as a unique hybrid. We have been mainly influenced by the Kalinago, Africans, French and English….so, a very dynamic process called creolization took place in our culture which gave rise to a unique Dominican and Caribbean culture. In Dominica, we must and should continue to promote both dimensions of our creole culture, the traditional and the contemporary which I think we have been doing very successfully.”
Lawrence goes on to say that there is always room for improvement when promoting Dominica’s culture and Dominicans need to give even greater support and encouragement to all our various of cultural expressions.
“We have to include our creole language in our schools…we need to wear our creole wear, why not all throughout the year expanding its use outside of the independence celebration? and on the contemporary side we can also create these types of modern creole music based on various other types of rhythms that we have in Dominica,” he suggests. “Hand in hand, both the traditional and contemporary aspects of our creole culture will continue to define and redefine who we are as a Dominican and Caribbean people, proud of our roots.”
Lawrence said our culture should not be bringing us down but lifting us up as a people and be sources of inspiration to young people and “raising Dominica high like a beacon on the world stage”.