Ma Blanc: the true spirit of Carnival

Ma Blanc at the opening parade of Carnival 2014
Ma Blanc at the opening parade of Carnival 2014

She grew up with ‘the music in my ears’ and just a few weeks shy of her 80th birthday, Ruth Blanc is once again enjoying her favorite time of the year.

Affectionately known as ‘Ma Blanc’, she has been enjoying Carnival for as long as she can remember and her age has not slowed her down.

“People say, ‘Ma Blanc you not leaving this Carnival alone?’ But to me, that the way I look at it, at my age it’s a form of exercise,” she tells Dominica News Online.

Ma Blanc was born on March 27, 1934, in Roseau near what is now the Mahaut/Canefield Bus Terminal. In those days when it was in season, carnival was practiced in that area and from an early age she remembers the music in her ears. It would go to bed with her and rise with her in the morning.

She remembers the sensays and masks and was very scared of them. “I used to run under the bed and hide,” she recalls.

As she shed her childhood, Ma Blanc developed a love for the music of Carnival and the idea of having some good, clean fun.

She started joining bands and jumping up on Carnival days.

At 22, Ma Blanc moved to England but Carnival seems to find a way to follow her. Three years after moving, Carnival was introduced in that country and she wasted no time in joining in.

She returned to Dominica in 1972 and has not missed a single carnival since then.

“I got back into this carnival business and up to today I am still at it,” she says with a chuckle.

Ma Blanc said when she is in a band, the sense of time is lost.

“If you tell me ‘Ma Blanc I need you to go around Roseau in a band for two hours in the hot sun, I would say ‘excuse me? Am I a slave?’ But the two hours going so fast, you don’t feel it at all,” she states. “When the band stop and they say we are going for breakfast or lunch, I say to myself, ‘wait a minute, you mean, what’s the time?’”

On a typical carnival Monday morning Ma Blanc leaves home at 3:00 am to catch J’ouvert.

Then she would return home, grab a quick breakfast and some rest before heading back to the main street jump up.

While most people join one band, she says she normally joins three. She has already joined two for the 2014 street jump up.

“Mind me I doesn’t join one band eh… I don’t know how I do it but I do it,” she notes, adding that when one band’s music gets ‘tired,’ she simply skip to the one that is hotter and more appealing.

“So if I run in this band for one hour or two hours, I leave it and I go and change into the other one and after lunch when we go back on the road I’m in the third band,” she remarks.

Ma Blanc says she normally carries her costumes in a bag for a quick change when she is switching bands.

Through the years of jumping in Carnival Ma Blanc has accumulated many costumes. “Sometimes when I watch the amount of costumes I have I say, ‘boy if I had to save that money I would have plenty of money in the bank’…..but it’s fun and you have to die and leave the money there, so I enjoying it,” she states.

With a downcast look Ma Blanc notes she is contemplating making this year’s jump up her last, “if I live to see it.”

But her face quickly lights up again when she says she may very well change her mind come next year.

Most likely, Ma Blanc will be seen enjoying carnival 2015.

Ma Blanc at Carnival 2013
Ma Blanc at Carnival 2013

 

 

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58 Comments

  1. March 6, 2014

    WOW! MA BLANC,CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 80TH BIRTHDAY!
    You are truly a woman after my heart. From my childhood days growing up in Goodwill Dominica to present, I have always admire and often imitate your carnival spirit. I Ms. White, known to many Dominicans as the CK girl/lady or the Dominican Flag girl/lady also leave for carnival! You and my grandmother Mrs Lucy Grell deceased along with my grand aunts Mable Charles and Lucille Riley inspired my carnival loving spirit from Ms. Winston school days to present, and to you I am all so grateful!
    MAY THE GOOD LORD CONTINUE TO GUIDE AND PROTECT YOUR CARNIVAL SPIRIT AND MAY YOU LEAVE TO ENJOY MANY MANY MANY MORE EXCITING, COLORFUL, JOYFUL AND SAFE CARNIVAL SEASONS! BLESSINGS TO YOU ALWAYS!
    As the saying goes NOUS KONNET VIVE!
    Coming from Ms.WHITE to MA BLANC

    • Sylvia McNichol
      August 29, 2015

      I met Ma Blanc years ago and just loved her. I used to work with her son in Washington DC
      I am just wondering if she is ok, Hurricane Erika destroyed Dominica and I am worried about her.
      Thanks you

  2. Homecoming
    February 23, 2014

    I have known Ma Blanc for quite some time, lovedd her Crab Backs when I spent more time in Dominica. She is a carnival fixture and such a fun and jovial woman in general. I am not a carnival person but her stamina is amazing at that age. Nice Human Interest story. Keep being young at heart Ma Blanc.

  3. humble_me
    February 22, 2014

    Some of us are born again in Christ Jesus and we are still not happy. Let God be her Judge.

  4. Karma
    February 21, 2014

    To the Blanc family. Please do not give ‘energy’ to negativity. Focus on all the positivity that is given to your mom and the negative people will fade away.
    As soon as I saw this pic I smiled. I’ve lived abroad for the past 15 years but growing up in Roseau in the thick of things at carnival time, I do remember this lady having a blast! To be 80 yrs old and so vibrant; she gives me hope and inspiration. Way to go! #Don’tStopLiving :)

  5. Anonymous
    February 21, 2014

    To the family be proud of your mom and grandma and just ignore negative comments. Not worth your time, they would love to take over the story with their foolishness.

  6. February 21, 2014

    Go ma blanc god keep you going and looking good long life

  7. Comics
    February 21, 2014

    Boy some people are just comics.ma blanc seems to hâve so much more than her culture.she has been enjoying Life working raising her kids and worshipping her lord.and at her âge still going strong .all thé mérites to you m’a blanc.un like thèse hypocrite Christian That living un clean lives bêhind doors and dont know how to appriciate others for who they are.bram bram

  8. Impressed
    February 21, 2014

    Honestly…I want to be like Ma Blanc at 80…What is the recipe nah???I am impressed…So many young people cannot do what you doing….Go Girl!!!

  9. Pmc
    February 21, 2014

    I’m an ordained minister of the
    Bible,Jesus did not come to condemn us but to save the world
    He loves us all not matter who or what we are . He doesn’t judge us on our appearance . He looks at our heart. Ma blanc
    Is a great mother and woman of God.How do I know that ? I :wink: was her neighbor . I grew up with her children. She is a strong
    Woman. I respect and love her like my mom. Ma blanc I hope when I get to be your age I look as young as you. The grace of God is upon . I pray that u live over 100 years and I promise
    U I will be in Dominica to celebrate with u and family .

  10. Da TRUT..
    February 21, 2014

    At this lady’s age, she needs to CALM down, give her LIFE TO GOD in case she dies tomorrow. That outfit is not flattering, neither does it do her any justice. At 80 going on 81, you’d think she’d tell bible stories to her grand kids and prepare to meet her maker. Instead, she there TOUTONEE in the street talking about I like carnival. Allu glorify the wrong things.

    • Anonymous
      February 22, 2014

      YOU need to calm down! And pray to God for you to become so very satisfied with your life that you learn to live and let live. Ma Blanc is a well adjusted, extremely happy and lovable lady. There is a great deal in her that you would do well to emulate

  11. Simply the Truth
    February 20, 2014

    Thanks DNO. Interesting article. It made me smile. Really a great story and of not giving up as one age. I believe I have heard of her, “Ma Blanc”. Who knows? I may know her. Her name sounds familiar. She must be a popular person.
    She certainly has a lot of strength and health for her age. It does not seem that she gets very tired. Some people her age and less may not have that kind of stamina to “play mas” on the basis she does. Her enthusiasm, a happy and pleasant disposition, no doubt a generous one most probably contribute to her demeanor.
    DNO you should interview her about her daily lifestyle, her nutrition and how much sleep she gets nightly to be able to have such strength.
    She certainly is a carnival icon. Her costumes should eventually be placed in a museum.
    Ma Blanc, I am younger than you but I do not think I could have the energy you have to play mass on that scale and never get tired. You are full of life. You do not even need to take Vitamin E – for energy. :lol:
    Way to go Ma Blanc! As long as you have health and strength I doubt you will take a break especially when you hear the music. It is in your blood. :lol: Keep up the spirit and carnival spirit. You are a model to those who will think and say “I am old or getting older…” I am certain there is no room and time for these thoughts where you are concerned and would not tolerate them. You probably would scoff at those who make such statements.
    God has blessed you with longevity and endowed you with health and strength which you are making the most of. May He continue to do so for many years to come. You are an inspiration to everyone, the young, old and older. Life is really what we make of it. As long as life lasts with health and strength, never give up. This healthy disposition is what keeps her going. We could all learn from her. She must have done something good in her lifetime and continues to. God bless you!

  12. MS
    February 20, 2014

    I had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful lady while I was visiting Dominica for the first time last November. I was staying at the Fort Young Hotel and I went to the market one morning to buy some fruits. I was asking a vendor where I could find ripe bananas, water melon and oranges when she over heard and volunteered to take me around the market and showed me where I could get everything I wanted. That was so nice of her. We had a wonderful conversation and she told me all about Dominica and her involvement in the carnival. Its so nice seeing her picture right now. I took her number to call her but unfortunately I couldn’t find it when I got back home. I will always remember her kindness and that infectious laugh. She did tell me to come back some other time for carnival, whose knows I might one day.

  13. River Street
    February 20, 2014

    Keeper of the Culture.

  14. River Street
    February 20, 2014

    Keep on doing it. God Bless Ma Blanc, you are a keeper of the vulture. Stay strong. Nice feature DNO.

  15. nevah
    February 20, 2014

    Ma Blanc eh worry with these people. You’re my girl, enjoy yourself and make yourself happy. If more people were like you carnival would be a much better. You always enjoy your self in an orderly and decent manner, not like some disorderly people. Enjoy your 2014 carnival

  16. Q Blanc
    February 20, 2014

    Hi Granny!!! Glad to see you are having fun!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  17. Glennis Blanc
    February 20, 2014

    Well Ma Blanc, you not slowing down at all, you raised me in carnival too but here in England carnival is not the same. You have touched a lot of people from the comments i am reading here. i always remember you telling me if you doh laugh you will cry………well you are always laughing. your son

  18. Glenford Blanc
    February 20, 2014

    Thank you to DNO and the author of this article. My mother Loves DA in a way that is hard to describe. On behalf of our family, thank you to those that recognize the true person she is, a mother, a christian woman, a daughter of Dominica, a person that enjoys life to the fullest.

    If we don’t enjoy it while we are here, when will we enjoy it?

    Thank you,
    The Blanc Family

  19. Amarossa
    February 20, 2014

    DNO I loved this article. I like you all do Human Interest stories….See if you all can do a regular feature like that every Thursday nah.

  20. i must speak
    February 20, 2014

    fyi de lady is a devoted catholic. okay so those who vex n have all kinda things to say, is ppl that tell allu doh free up nar? gosh man ppl like Ma Blanc i like :wink:

  21. Sensible Dominican
    February 20, 2014

    Ma Blanc was born during carnival time

  22. Fachine
    February 20, 2014

    I’m not into carnival but I admire this lady’s energy and self-confidence. She is truly young at heart. It gives me hope to live for Jesus to the end.

  23. beautifulingodeye
    February 20, 2014

    woman, give your life to christ

    • Glenford Blanc
      February 20, 2014

      I have known Ma Blanc for 57 years. She raised me and my 4 brothers and one sister in a christian home. Think twice before you judge people you do not know.

      Read you bible, I believe it says “judge not lest yee be judged”

      If you were “beautiful in gods eye” as you screen name suggests, you would not judge others.

      • Gary
        February 21, 2014

        Well said Glenford, it is sad to read such comments from people who proclaim themselves to be Christians.

  24. admire
    February 20, 2014

    love ma Balnc so much. i always smile when i see her in the bands. its what keeps her young. will be right there with you ma Blanc. continue to ENJOY.

  25. Neighbor
    February 20, 2014

    God Bless you Ma Blanc. Wishing you many more jovial years. You are proof that age is just a number.

  26. Neg Bord LaMer
    February 20, 2014

    Life is too short!
    You Go, Girl!

  27. NYC
    February 20, 2014

    WOW,WOW WAY TO GO LOOKING GOOD MY DARE KEEP IT UP BLESS UP EVERY TIME.LOVE YOU.

  28. grell
    February 20, 2014

    Great respect for you MA blanc.keep it up.

  29. Tri-State Beauty
    February 20, 2014

    Ma Blanc is just a fun person to be around. Enjoy your life sweetie. If this is what gives you pleasure go ahead you’ve earned that right. We’re not going to even talk about your cooking!

  30. i must speak
    February 20, 2014

    de woman die nar? ay ay…? trupse free up ur self ppl dying too sooon take ur foot….i in dat

  31. Christian Volney
    February 20, 2014

    A true Dominican icon you are Ma Blanc!
    Bless your spirit.

  32. Peter Azille, Sr.
    February 20, 2014

    Wonderful…Keep it Going Ma. Blanc. Love You!!! May God Bless You!

  33. Mango-Bab
    February 20, 2014

    Ma Blanc, ou konnet kouman pou viv (Ou konnet Viv) and OU KONNET KOUMAN POU JWE MAS

  34. hmmmm
    February 20, 2014

    Way to go Ma Blanc.

  35. Lolly pop
    February 20, 2014

    Is this the same lady who was selling snacks and meals to college students at Stock farm. Back in the days. If so she was always a Jehoval and highly social. Kudos to her. Enjoy life till the wheels fall off. We come around once and that is it.

    Largais deux pwais ma Blanc

    • Glenford Blanc
      February 20, 2014

      Yep, same lady.

  36. Admirer
    February 20, 2014

    This Lady has lived a good life. I went to school(SMA) with one of her boys, Roger Blanc. A Very positive and loving attitude is typically displayed by Ma Blanc all through the year and to all she encounters.

    This lady makes visitors experience love when they are in Dominica for Carnival.

    Keep up your patriotic civic duty and God will give you many more years of good health. All the best mam.

  37. Not a herd follower
    February 20, 2014

    The evergreen Ma Blanc. More power and many more years of good health to her !

  38. February 20, 2014

    Good for you Ma Blanc. To be this energetic is a blessing that many younger people do not have. Enjoy yourself to the fullest lady as life is too short .Your costume is wonderful.

  39. 2Cute
    February 20, 2014

    Big Up yourself mame, you die na :) You Connet Vive !!! :wink:

  40. Anonymous
    February 20, 2014

    A lady after my own heart. Ma Blanc, you go ma’am! May you be blessed with energy and good knees to go another 10 years and more. Love you lots.

  41. Anonymous
    February 20, 2014

    Wow. Nice feature on Ma Blanc. She has the true spirit of Carnival. Wishing her many more to come and for inspiring us with a sense of fun. Thats whats its all about .

  42. warrington
    February 20, 2014

    well well well. them LEGS loooking more SEXY than BEYONCE’S own.

    • Just Blaze
      February 20, 2014

      Lets not get hysterical on DNO please.

  43. Anonymous
    February 20, 2014

    O yes!!! A fixture in our carnival!!!!!Long Live Ma Blanc

  44. HMMM
    February 20, 2014

    If it was to represent God every year I wonder oh how I wonder, if she would represent him so strong!!!

    • Ms Twitter
      February 20, 2014

      You see, it’s these kind of judgemental comments that does turn me off you know….you know NOTHING about how Ma Blanc worships her God….and ONLY God can judge her.

    • Glenford Blanc
      February 20, 2014

      For your information, my mother attends church every Sunday even if she has to walk from Bellevue to get there having had two knee surgeries. Can you say the same?

  45. justice
    February 20, 2014

    Yes I ALWAYS see that lady and admire her! True spirit of culture..she deserves an award and should join any band she wants for free!

  46. Anonymous
    February 20, 2014

    Way to go Ma Blanc! Life is too short for us to be fussing and fighting you hear. Enjoy yourself.

  47. February 20, 2014

    Good Ma Blanc you doing great enjoy yourself. I love to see happy people.

  48. how i see it
    February 20, 2014

    girlfriend dnt give up my aunt was a carnival lover too,

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