Business people are smiling in Carriacou after a week that saw the island bursting at the seams as people from the diaspora returned to pay homage to their ancestors and to enjoy other events that take place at this time of the year. A business man, who operates a guest house, told this newspaper that it’s the first time he had seen so many people in Carriacou. In fact, he said that there were more visitors than the people who actually live on the island this year. The activities included the corn-fest, then all roads led to the cemetery on the first and second day of November as people partook in the libation and other Tombstone activities to pay homage to their ancestors. A practice that is carefully guarded. While the two days are celebrated in Grenada as All Saints and All Souls by mostly people from the Catholic and Anglican religions, Carriacou seems to have a greater measure of seriousness when it comes to that issue. The residents there seem to have great respect for the people who have gone on to the great beyond. Even the good condition of the cemeteries and the quality of tombstones and graves that are erected there, are testimony of their strong respect for the dead. The word ancestors is also commonly used in their everyday language.
A little bit on the history on the island, shows that at one time it was inhabited by the Kalinago people (Caribs and Arawaks) during the stone-age. Research also shows that the name we now know as Carriacou, derived from the original name – Kayryouacou which means land surrounded by reefs, and was given by the Caribs. However, in true Grenadian style that name was butchered through the ages to become what it is today. Even the practice of honouring ancestors was a Carib ritual; but unfortunately the modern culture of the State of Grenada, seems to be, for the greater part, a blend of African, French and British influences. So, sadly, little is heard of the Kalingo people in reference to our ancestors.
Another activity over the past weekend was one called KIA in D Bagadere, which started in 2018; the name derives from Kayak art in the Bagadere. The event is to showcase the indigenous arts of Carriacou and Petite Martinique which is held in an area called D Bagadere – a local name for the coastal strip in Harvey Vale/Tyrrel Bay, encompassing the mangrove swamp/oyster bed and also called Carenage. One of the main aims of that annual event is to promote local art and the artists and to embrace the people of Carriacou who are locally called Kayaks. The event invites people in the arts regardless of location or generation because it is a known fact that there are Kayaks abroad who may be excelling in their artistic pursuits but little is known of them at home. Highlighting them and their work in D Bagadere provides inspiration for those at home who are hoping to make it as an artist expressed with joy. He said that he is from Petite Martinique and had been painting for years with limited scope and opportunities; people hardly knew of me. The artist is thanking the organisers for the event because- as he said- his painting business is now going places. Information on social media describes the show as a metaphoric nursery, an art incubator, a meeting place for artists which can give rise to new expressions, greater possibilities, growth and expansion.
The information online suggests that the organisers were inspired by the story of a local artist -Canute Calliste who sat for years in his wooden shack painting from his vision and dreams; then gave away his art for free or just a couple of dollars. His work never made him rich because of the little recognition he got from Carriacou, his homeland; until one day a visitor observed his work with keen interest and the rest is now history. Today he is celebrated as Carriacou’s foremost artist in folk art. The story online revealed that his recognition was not home spun until a stranger recognised his work as special. So, Kia in D Bagadere was born and is now looking for local artists to celebrate them on November 03-05 where people are encouraged to buy a painting or a book, hear from poets and academics and ponder on a film screening with relevant meaning. It’s also an opportunity to interact with artists and other people in the arts. The focus continues to be on the art that is less well-known and this year according to one of the organisers some artists’ work were sold out.
Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade was present as in the past, to declare the show open on Friday night; the building was filled with people overflowing into the streets. While it’s probably not a well-known event, this newspaper has decided to feature it this week to show our support for the reason for the event. We also congratulate the organisers and wish them well in the future. It’s certainly a strong show of patriotism! Carriacou can certainly teach the world the power of strong support “Caca Bah wee for Caca Bah wee!”