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Global issue 20

In Focus Saint Lucia but today only very few families claim Carib ancestry. During the 18th century the island changed hands back and forth from French to British rule 14 times, and was finally ceded to Britain in 1814. The British contributed their language, educational system, and legal and political structures to the complex cultural mosaic. French influence is more persuasive in the arts, visual and performance, and the French language is a distinctive strand of Creole patois. white tension, though it is arguably less acute than in former times since, with urbanisation, ‘the city’ has succeeded ‘the plantation’ as the main generator of contemporary Caribbean culture. Saint Lucians love to party and there are many opportunities to do so on a grand scale with a year-long carousel of festivals, involving spectacular displays of costume and mask, joyful music, sumptuous feasts and other aspects of popular culture. Such celebrations are also a fertile source of When Africans were first brought to Saint Lucia in the mid-17th century, the preservation of their culture was an essential mental resistance When Africans were first brought to Saint Lucia in the mid-17th century, the preservation of their culture was an essential mental resistance during the dark centuries of slavery and, somehow, some traditional aspects have survived, despite repression by the ruling forces. These are of fundamental importance to the island’s identity today. Emerging from the weight of the colonial legacy has not been easy and in recent years the yearning for identity has intensified, focusing particularly on a resurgence of traditional or folk culture. Because culture is inevitably conflated in the Caribbean with colour and class, this process has painful implications. Race relations reflect an on-going black– inspiration for contemporary visual art. With a predominantly Catholic population, sacred and secular used to meet at pre- Lenten Carnival. Recently it has shifted to July, with tourists in mind, and has become a purely secular event, taking over the island with an enormous street festival. Competing calypso bands throw an ongoing Mardi Gras-style party, with parades of extravagantly dressed dancers, and specific Carnival culinary delicacies such as soca pastries. Creole Day or Jounen Kweyo is a much more Saint Lucian-specific festival, celebrating traditional music, dance, storytelling, costuming, crafts, Creole cuisine and the Kwéyo language. Kwéyo, or Patwa, is a mixture of African languages Saint Lucia through history 200 Arawak Indians settle on the island 800 Caribs forcibly take over the island 1635 A French colony is established 1660 A peace treaty between the Caribs and the French means settlement is permitted for French colonies in Martinique 1814 The British ultimately take possession giving full internal self-government as one of the Federated States of the Antilles 1979 Independence is granted on 22 February with John Compton of the United Workers Party (UWP) as Prime Minister © Stif Komar CC BY-SA 3.0 of Saint Lucia under the Treaty of Paris 1967 Saint Lucia gets a new constitution, 1996 Compton is replaced as Prime Minister, after 30 years, by Dr Vaughan Lewis 1997 Dr Pearlette Louisy is appointed as the country’s first female Governor- General. Victory for the SLP in the general elections means that Dr Kenny Anthony becomes Prime Minister 2007 Hurricane Dean hits the island in August 2011 After a term out of office, Dr Kenny Anthony is elected for his third term as Prime Minister 1900 2000 Key data n Capital: Castries n Land area: 616 sq km n Population: 181,000 (2012) n Ethnicity: Mostly of mixed African and European descent n Life expectancy: 75 years n GNI: US$1.2 billion n Official language: English www.global global f i rst quar ter 2015 -br ief ing.org l 77


Global issue 20
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