By Renisha Pivott
Youth interaction. Sport. Cultural Diffusion. Fun. This is the essence of “Quinzaine de la Jeunesse Caribéenne.”
For 2 weeks during the summer vacation each year, a youth assembly organised by OMDAC (Organisation pour le Développement des Arts et la Culture) is held in Martinique. Delegates from all over the Caribbean are invited to participate; to encourage and promote cultural exchange among the Caribbean islands. Tanya Boney and Renisha Pivott, both 2014 TAMCC graduates, represented Grenada this year in Martinique.
Upon arrival, the Grenadian delegation was greeted by Yves-Marie Séraline, President of OMDAC, and eventually, they met delegates from St Lucia, Dominica, Jamaica, St Kitts and Haiti.
Each delegation was required to present an exhibition of their respective countries and to engage in cultural presentations and debates in different villages such as Ducos, Gros Morne, Lamentin, Vauclin, Carbet, Diamant and Rivière Salée.
Boney said about the experience: “We were very fortunate to represent Grenada at such a great international event. We had the opportunity to discover a large part of Martinique and meet interesting people everywhere we stopped. A significant component of the programme was learning the Martiniquan Bèlè dance at Lakou Trankil, Gros Morne. Although other islands like Grenada, St Lucia and Dominica have Bèlè dances, the Martiniquan version was quite different. Many of the moves focused on the legs and feet and had a strong connection to ‘Mother Earth’ which highlights the strong African influences.”
In Diamant in particular, the delegations witnessed a live performance of a cultural art practised in Martinique. ‘Slam’ is essentially poetry being read with soft music in the background or simply spoken words accompanied by soft music. With regards to sport, the delegates were able to watch the impressive Tour de Martinique des Yoles, a round-the-island workboat regatta which is one of the biggest sporting events in Martinique.
Aquabasketball, a game created by Séraline, is an innovative, fun and unique sport that he hopes to introduce throughout the Caribbean. An Aquabasketabll tournament was held in which the Martinique team emerged as the winners. This was another highlight of their trip and a novel experience for most of the delegates.
The assembly culminated with the celebration of UNESCO’s World Youth Day held on 12 August. Each delegation participated in the parade of their flags, the singing of the National Anthems and cultural presentations. Some of the delegates participated in a fashion show put on by Francky Joseph of Haiti.
Each delegation learnt a great deal about the cultures of the other participating Caribbean countries. For example, soca and dancehall are common to most Caribbean countries, but the genre of music known as Bouillon is only popular in Dominica.
In conclusion, this trip was indeed a phenomenal experience that facilitated the diffusion as well as the learning of cultures. Pivott’s overall recommendation to Grenadian youth, “I urge young people to embrace any opportunity to be a part of such an amazing experience and to learn a foreign language. The fact that Tanya and myself are proficient in French language helped us in our travels, but also as a mean to communicate more meaningfully with other delegates and locals in Martinique.”
The trip was facilitated by OMDAC, the Alliance Française de la Grenade and the Regional French Embassy.