Karifuna Cultural Group celebrates its 43rd anniversary this month

Some members of the Karifuna Cultural Group with Prosper Paris in the centre

The Karifuna Cultural Group, for the first time will host a virtual show to celebrate its 43rd Anniversary on Sunday 27th November 2021.

The group’s longest serving President, Prosper Paris, told Dominica News Online (DNO) during an interview on Tuesday that the decision to do a virtual event is due to the Covid-19 surge presently affecting Dominica.

“We are going to host a virtual show showcasing the different dances we did over the years and at the same time giving our viewers and members a view of our cultural group,” he said. “It’s a while we haven’t done a public dance performance.”

According to Paris, the group has grown over the years and the work of its members is to maintain the Kalinago culture.

The Karifuna Cultural Group was formed in 1978 and the aim and objective of the group is to revive and maintain the Kalinago Culture.

“The group educates and informs its members and the community through song, dance, storytelling and workshops,” Paris stated in a release. “The group has had the opportunity to represent Dominica in several festivals, trade shows and educational forums at local, regional and international levels. It has taken part in documentary films and movies such as the Orchid House, Seven Nights, Robinson Crusoe, The Spirit of Jaguar, Columbus and Chocolate Pollen.”

The group’s cultural performances, according to its president, are viewed as a major attraction for the Dominican public and visitors to the island.

Over the years, Karifuna has encouraged the planting of Larouma reed, which is used by the Kalinago people in basket weaving, the release goes on to state.

“The group organized and funded a project to experiment with the growth of Larouma at different levels of elevation in the Kalinago Territory. This project was very successful and many producers have used the lessons learnt to establish their own Larouma plots,” Paris explained.

However, the achievements of the Karifuna Cultural Group did not come easily as, according to Paris, like all other groups, Karifuna has faced its fair share of challenges. He said new members have had to be trained constantly to replace those who left to form their own groups, e.g the Karina Cultural Group, and those who left to take on new responsibilities or to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

“Unlike other groups in Dominica, Karifuna is not a seasonal group; it functions year-round and it is guided by a constitution. A yearly plan is put in place at its general meeting which is held annually…the group has engaged and invested in activities such as Carib Day which was first organized by the group. This later translated into Carib Week and is presently celebrated annually as Kalinago Week,” it added.

Karifuna also participates in Carnival, the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF), Independence Celebrations and International World Indigenous People Day and the group is also working on the  restoration of the Kalinago Language, which they consider to be the backbone of the Kalinago culture. Karifuna Cultural Group also organized and funded the first ever Inter-School Dance Festival and Kalinago History Quiz Competition. Other undertakings of the cultural group include the publishing of a a Kalinago cookbook and the recording its first compact disc, “Nou Se Kalinago” in the year 2000. Six of the tracks are in the Kalinago language.

Many prominent Kalinago “warriors” have been, and still are members of the Karifuna Cultural Group. Among them, Dr. Worrel Sanford, Dr. Korak Frederick -founding member, Garnette Joseph – former Chief, Irvince Auguiste – former Chief and founding member, Sylvanie Green-Burton – Permanent Secretary, Prosper Paris- Cultural Officer as well as Nicolas Sanford, Jacob Frederick and many others.

Paris revealed that the Karifuna Cultural Group, which now has a membership of 20, has performed in many countries around the world, including Martinique, Guadeloupe, France, Trinidad & Tobago , the US Virgin Islands, England, USA and many more.

He said the group will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in December this year but a date has not yet been set.

The Karifuna Cultural Group’s 43rd Anniversary will be celebrated under the theme: “Wi Nou La.”

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1 Comment

  1. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    November 25, 2021

    An interesting piece of history about the Kalinago people..and their contribution to the cultural landscape of Dominica

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