Karifuna cultural group celebrates its 43rd anniversary this month

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

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

The group’s oldest chairman, Prosper Paris, told Dominica News Online (DNO) in an interview on Tuesday that the decision to have a virtual event is due to the Covid-19 surge currently affecting Dominica.

“We are going to put on a virtual show showcasing the different dances that we have performed over the years and at the same time giving our viewers and members an overview of our cultural group,” he said. “It’s been a while since we’ve done a public dance performance.”

According to Paris, the group has grown over the years and the job 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 songs, dances, storytelling and workshops,” Paris said in a statement. “The group has had the opportunity to represent Dominica at several festivals, trade shows and educational forums at the local, regional and international levels. He has participated in documentary films and films such as Orchid House, Seven Nights, Robinson Crusoe, The Spirit of Jaguar, Columbus and Chocolate Pollen.

The group’s cultural performances, according to its president, are seen 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 basketry, the statement continued.

“The group organized and financed a project to experience the growth of Larouma at different altitude levels in the territory of Kalinago. This project was very successful and many growers used the lessons learned to establish their own Larouma plots, ”explained Paris.

However, the achievements of the Karifuna Cultural Group have not been easy because, according to Paris, like all other groups, Karifuna has faced its fair share of challenges. He said new members had to be continuously trained to replace those who left to form their own groups, for example the Karina cultural group, and those who left to take on new responsibilities or seek greener pastures elsewhere.

“Unlike other groups in Dominica, Karifuna is not a seasonal group; it operates year round and is guided by a constitution. An annual plan is put in place at its general meeting which is held each year … the group is committed and invested in activities such as Carib Day which was first organized by the group. This later translated into Carib Week and is currently celebrated annually as Kalinago Week, ”he added.

Karifuna also participates in Carnival, the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF), Independence Day celebrations and the International Day of Indigenous Peoples and the group is also working on the restoration of the Kalinago language, which they consider to be the backbone of the Kalinago culture. The Karifuna cultural group also organized and funded the very first inter-school dance festival and the historical quiz competition in Kalinago. Other undertakings of the cultural group include the publication of a cookbook aa Kalinago and the recording of his first compact disc, “Nou Se Kalinago” in the year 2000. Six of the tracks are in the Kalinago language.

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

Paris revealed that the Karifuna Cultural Group, which now has 20 members, has performed in many countries around the world, including Martinique, Guadeloupe, France, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands, the ‘England, the United States and many more.

He said the group will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) in December of this year, but no date has been set yet.

The 43rd anniversary of the Karifuna Cultural Group will be celebrated under the theme: “Wi Nou La”.

James C. Tibbs