Trinidad and Tobago staged its biggest Carifesta events last week, a wonderful extravaganza celebrating the region’s arts, music, heritage and culture. Writers, performers, poets, dancers and musicians from the region attended a diverse range of fabulous events.
No one could doubt the enthusiasm of contingents from the French-influenced Caribbean in their high-energy performances at Carifesta XIV at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Tuesday night.
It was an invaluable experience to see singers, dancers, musicians and dramatists who were Caribbean but spoke French and French Creole.
Those featured were Guadeloupe and Martinique, colonies of France, but in addition it was a revelation for many TT nationals to see how French the cultures of Dominica and St Lucia are.
The mix of Caribbean and French flair was epitomised by Dominica’s lady of song, Ophelia Marie, singing in French/French Creole the song ‘Dingolay’ penned by the late Tobago-born Winston “Shadow” Bailey.
It was truly a night to look out for similarities and differences in song, dance and dress between the francophone and anglophone areas of the Caribbean, plus the bilingual/bridging territories of St Lucia and Dominica. For example, while performers’ Carnival costumes could easily be envisioned within a Trinidadian band, also being worn by many artistes was the madras fabric so typical of the French-influenced islands.
Martinique offered a small band of five or six members including a female singer and an excellent flute soloist, all with very eclectic offerings.