Saint Lucia’s Cultural Groups Take Part In Two Major Events In Venezuela

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St. Lucia

–  A part of the cultural exchange between Venezuela and the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP), the ALBA Secretariat and the Ministry of People’s Power for Culture of Venezuela have organized an extraordinary day of cultural events from 20 to 23 June in the city of Caracas and throughout different regions of the country.

On the St. Lucia side, the Vide Bouteille Drum Group, ‘Skin Rhythm’ and the ‘Manmay La Kaye Folk Band’ will be participating.  Both groups will be part of the cultural events: ” Drums of Alba: beats of our identity ” organized by the Alba Secretariat and the “Festival Viva Venezuela Mi Patria Querida”, organized by the Ministry of Culture.

The Vide Bouteille Primary School Drumming Group “Skin Rhythm” is an after-school programme that started in November 2006 and has been maintained to date thanks to the passion and dedication of Master Drummer Niger Nestor and Professor Cuthbert Popo, who volunteer three times a week with children and youth in the community to discover and nurture musical talent and keep the rhythms of traditional African drumming alive in St. Lucia.

“Skin Rhythm” has thirty (30) members, most of them primary and secondary school students, but the 9 percussionists who are in Venezuela started at a very young age and are still teaching the younger ones today.

During that week, conferences will also be held to address the importance of the drum in the identity of Latin American and Caribbean peoples. In this context, Dr. Raymond Travis Weekes will be the speaker for Saint Lucia and will give a presentation on Sunday 23 June on “The Role of the Drum in the Formation of a Caribbean Identity”.

Dr. Weekes, who graduated with a PHD in Cultural Studies from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2017, is a Lecturer in Literature and Theatre and has been a Lecturer in the Department of Creativity at the UWI.  He also has extensive experience in Acting, Directing, Producing, Modern Theatre, Theatre Development, Caribbean Theatre, among others.

Simultaneously, in the Viva Venezuela World Festival prepared by the Ministry of People’s Power for Culture, different cultural activities such as conferences, workshops, concerts and traditional dances will take place in the states of Aragua, Carabobo and Cojedes.

The Manmay La Kaye Folk Band, a folk group that has been a cornerstone of Caribbean culture under the direction of Augustine “Charlie” Julian, will participate in this Festival representing Saint Lucia.

Julian, the bandleader, has been the cohesive force behind the group, with a long career as a storyteller, musician, composer, arranger and bandleader for over 4 decades.  For him and the other members, the band is more than a musical group; it is a family united by a common passion.

Manmay La Kay has been noted for its commitment to the preservation and promotion of folk dance, pioneering the presentation of the Quadrille and producing a video that was broadcast by the BBC in London. In addition, Julian has spread his art beyond the borders of St. Lucia, telling stories in English and Kwéyòl in local communities and at international festivals in Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana, cementing his legacy as a cultural ambassador for the Caribbean.

At the farewell for the Saint Lucian groups at the airport on 19 June, the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Saint Lucia, Her Excellency Leiff Escalona, expressed the importance that the Bolivarian Government led by President Nicolas Maduro, has always given to culture, highlighting, recognizing and honouring the culture, musicians, artists, researchers and dancers who have dedicated their efforts to rescue, preserve and disseminate the traditional values of each country.

Cultural exchange between Venezuela and Caribbean countries is crucial to strengthening our identity and recognizing our shared African origins. This interaction not only allows for mutual enrichment through music, dance, gastronomy and other cultural expressions, but also fosters a deeper understanding of our common roots.

Afro-descendant history and culture are fundamental pillars in both regions, and this exchange celebrates and preserves that invaluable legacy, strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and cooperation between our peoples.

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