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|Wukin Up- Cultural Expression or Vulgar Gyration|
-Gyul you had see dem children in jouvert morning Wukin up demself?? Buh wha kinda nastiness da was buddy. I tell ya, look wha de young people coming to.
-My dear, I see one dere…if she had uh swing her hips any faster I swear one woulda fly off and hit me. I nearly pass out when I see de behaviour.
-Stroops, awyu soun' so foolish!! De chirrun only practicing culture. Soca is our ting. U ain hear de pace o' de music?? So how u expec' um to dance slower. Dem following a beat.
-Yes, I agree. But dem ain have to mek it look so nasty.
Hmmm, this really is an interesting one. When we gyrate, accentuate our hips, cock our rear ends and throw back our heads while enjoying a sweet piece of Soca out of T&T or a local calypso, are we exercising culture or are we just being plain and nasty vulgar?
Let's back up a bit and talk about this thing we call "Caribbean music". Reggae and dancehall are two genres of Caribbean music. However, it is really soca and calypso that will lead to what we as Anguillians term 'Wukin up.' These genres (soca/calypso) are viewed by most as the music of passion, excitement and sheer celebration. It has been established after speaking with a number of people that 'wuking up' can be described as the fast movement of the waistline and pelvic area. As it is known, a strong African influence pervades music, dance, the arts, literature, speech forms, and religious practices in the Caribbean. As before enslavement, Africans danced for special occasions, such as a birth or a marriage, or as a part of their daily activities and dance affirmed life and the outlook of a better future. African dance has contributed to movement that is centrifugal - exploding outward from the hips and movement that is performed to a propulsive rhythm to give a swinging quality. Wuking up used to be associated with the lower classes but it was among those same lower classes that you found more of our African retentions. So as we were educated, schooled and churched into other classes (middle and upper) due to economic wealth in particular we tended to frown on anything that reminded us of Africa and when that was coupled with that notion of thinking of our sexuality as being rudeness then you see where the connection came with it being vulgar.
In the article: Caribbean Music and Carnivals by James Henderson, he says, "Music is certainly an important part of Caribbean life. West Indians love to dance, and of course their sense of rhythm is legendary." Soca is similar to African music as there is a call and response element. Dancers are called to respond to the singers' exhortations to jump up wave a rag or wine back. However, 99% of the lyrics that they are responding to are filled with sexual innuendos. Some persons are of the view that anything pertaining to sex in the eyes of the society is nasty or vulgar. Ijahnya Christian, Executive Director of Anguilla's National Trust, says, "Wuking up is something that reminds us of our sexuality and given our westernization we have become very uncomfortable with it. Our sexuality through the mis-teachings of those responsible for our moral development has been put in the realm of sin and the sinful." Mrs. Christian also alluded to the fact that our sexuality is a strong and integral part of our spirituality, and so in this context she could not describe "wuking up" as nasty. Nevertheless, Mrs. Christian presented the other side of the coin by expressing that, "If you understand the context in which we have come to understand sexuality as nasty, if it is that we are "wuking up" for "wuking up" sake with no considerations of the spiritual aspects of our sexuality then it becomes more of an empty behaviour and if you have a certain socialization then you will see it as being vulgar."
Mr. Colin "culture" Johnson, Director of the All- Ah- Wee Young Theatre Players is of the opinion that "wuking up" can be viewed as both negative and positive depending on the context in which it occurs. "It depends on what you are 'wuking up' to, it depends on where you are 'wukin up' and it depends on what you are wearing." He expressed an example of someone in skimpy attire 'wuking up' for no apparent purpose that this may insinuate sexual activity and that could be negative. The movements could be similar to the African moves but it all depends on the connotation(s) portrayed.
On the contrary, Nakishma Rogers, a fifth form student of the A.L.H.C.S. is adamant that 'wuking up' is strictly culture. "It is culture because it is linked to the dancing of slavery days when slaves wanted to celebrate freedom. Whether or not it has transformed itself to have sexual indications does not dismiss it as culture or make it nasty. It is still what the individual wishes to express at that moment. Therefore if I wish to communicate sex by "wuking up" then that is my personal expression .It is a matter of whether we as educated people view sex as 'nasty'." Neal Bailey, also a fifth form student of the A.L.H.C.S. simply feels that we as Caribbean people have our own dance and that is 'wuking up'. Terrence Hodge- Carty a.k.a Daddy Hodgie of The Better Band shares a similar view. He too is of the opinion that 'wuking up' is not nasty and is an aspect of our culture and part of our cultural heritage.
Of course one of the main arguments is the spiritual aspect. Pastor Philip Gumbs of the Church of God Holiness had this to say when questioned about 'wuking up' being culturally acceptable or nasty. "I think that it is both. We have to understand that culture is not infallible. Culture is not right or wrong. In our country it may have a cultural precedent, but the question is, is it beneficial to society? I would say no." He also goes on to say that when women in particular make certain movements that give clear sexual messages, it is primarily designed to arouse men, perpetuating the mentality that they are sexual objects.
Pastor Gumbs felt that 'Wukin up' is seen as a violation of God's laws or spiritual principles. "Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. When a person acts in a way that promotes the flesh, unbiblical desires, well then they are definitely flying in God's face. Similarly, Mr. Johnson feels that if 'wuking up' has negative connotations then it will definitely be something that neither God nor the Church approves of. He alludes to the point that the lyrics of some of our jumpy calypsos help to promote the negativity of the action.
Mrs. Christian believes however, that we should not separate the spiritual from the physical. "In the Pentecostal churches, particularly when people were more enveloped in what was called getting in the spirit we saw all sorts of things because, in my head that was Africa coming out. In those churches that still allowed you to have rhythm of a certain sort, people danced and they danced as David danced unabashed and unashamed." Pastor Philip did make mention of dancing for Christ and the focus more bring on the expressions of the face and not of the body, indicating that the purpose for movement is totally different.
Neal Bailey, on the other hand doesn't think that 'wuking up' is ungodly but does recognize that it would affect your involvement or rapport with the church seeing that it is not part of what Christians believe in. Nakishma Rogers shares similar sentiments. She articulates that it should not affect your relationship with God but it most definitely will affect your relationship with the Church. "Firstly it shouldn't affect our relationship with God because your heart and body or two different things the bible speaks not of "wuking up". If personally you know you are right with him then it should not. Church is not God but the people can act that way. There are certain standards that Christians have set for themselves, which segregate them from others and they maintain these standards in order to maintain the differentiation. So "wuking up" especially in public would most definitely and is most definitely frowned upon by most churches."
So, it is obvious then that "wuking up" means different things to different people. There is no right and wrong in this situation; it all depends on one's socialisation and upbringing. However, here is food for thought. If culture is the way of life of a people; their daily interaction and customs, then it can't be all positive because perfection does not exist among human beings. So even if "wuking up" was to be deemed nasty or vulgar would that mean that it was still not part of our culture? Hmmm, think about it.
I PREFER STICKS AND STONES
Bereft from our modern world are the days when a good fight was just that. A good fight. A splendid display of adrenaline and pumping testosterone and then sometimes, less often but intensely more comical, the odd female spat. Those were the days when each opponent went home with nothing more than a black eye, a bruised ego and a valuable lesson learnt. Those were the days when you argued with your neighbour about whose land was whose land, whose goats ate whose flowers and then silently dissolve in giggles when after YOUR phone call, the police showed up to reprimand their kids about the music being played too loud. But most importantly, those were the days when the only retaliation method was to fix them with a cut eye, deny them sugar the next time they came asking and then revelling in the glory of their humiliation. Silly stuff really. Primary School behaviour no doubt. But it was surely alot healthier to exist in a community where every clash, conflict, falling out, was dissipated by nothing more than heated arguments and the occasional sticks and stones.
So when did we suddenly lose our small island tactics and move on to the deadly games of cat and mouse or the hunt and kill methods of Hollywood action movies? Fights aren’t just fights anymore and almost every dispute culminates with someone paying rent at the Princess Alexandra or to the complete distress of friends and family, lying motionless in a pool of their own blood. Regrettably, we have discarded our old time war methods and have grown fond of the use of guns. Guns, a weapon whose sole manufactured purpose was not to maim nor injure but instead to shoot and kill. And we have to ask ourselves why it is that these recent hate crimes have begun to escalate so quickly. Everywhere we go, everything we do, each day we continue to live our lives, we have the fear of God put into us because some foolhardy young lad brought his new toy to the softball game for show and tell.
But how do we explain the latest craze on guns? And what as a people can we do to quell the uprise of guns on Anguilla. We have to first admit that we are up against a most powerful and invincible force, perhaps the greatest obstruction we will ever bump heads with. The media is an exhaustive source of blame for everything gone wrong in society. And rightly so. Images shown on T.V these days are chock-full with violence and crime, each Hollywood exaggerated shooting remaining etched in the minds of eager young Anguillians desperate to find their niche in the fantasy world of live and let die. Even the various news programmes that we sit down to watch each evening, is awash with more slaughterings of human beings than anyone has a right to see and is no doubt feeding tender blossoming minds with trigger happy ideas too scary to perceive. The rap music they listen to, the ones which scream obscenities and yell kill, kill, kill, serves as another source for dreams of destruction to manifest. Rap enthusiasts may very well refute this statement claiming as Eminem did that music doesn’t load up a gun and cock it to Vision of Love and believe in Shania Twains Forever and Always and then tell me if you’re not a dreamer. A wise man once said that music is inspiration. Just as it inspires you to dream about nice evenings and what it would be like to be with that perfect someone, someone out there is chillin’ listening to Eminem rage about who he wants to kill and why and 50 cent drone on and on about how much times he got shot and encouraging you to `squeeze til there aint a shot left’
Another prospect that warrants our immediate attention is the availabilty of guns on the island, as it seems to be alarmingly high. We know that they are not made or sold(legally) anywhere on the island so we accept that they are imported somehow. Most likely through St. Martin. The convenience of regular ferry service to and from this island is an appreciated one I’m sure, as due to the incessant flow of traffic between the two, thorough individual inspections are at an alltime low. Non-existent to be even more correct. So it shouldn’t be too hard to smuggle a gun or two into the country without getting caught. As a matter of fact you probably wouldn’t even have to hide it. Just tuck it into your pocket and no-ones the wiser. And this whole truth leaves a numbing sensation in the pit of the stomach as we consider how easy and efficient the whole process could be.
But perhaps, to implicate neighbouring territories in our own problems is a childish thing to do. Too often we try to condemn others for what is obviously our own folly. Rumour has it that a number of firearms has mysteriously disappeared from the safe(?)keeping of the Royal Anguilla Police Force. Now, we all enjoyed watching Bozo the Clown as young kids but as we grew older we learnt that magic doesn’t really exist and is always owed to the clever antics of a capable human being. So we are positive that those guns didn’t hocus pocus their way out of there but were instead aided by ´capable’ hands. But where did they go? Perhaps the real answer to our questions lie right here in this puzzle. How ironic it would be to know that the very weapons whose existence we are trying to minimize are our own.
Sadly though, no-one may ever be able to pinpoint a specific reason or find justification for these lawless acts. It may really only be part of the what is to come in the last days as foreseen in the Bible. But to lay down and die, surrender and give up would be to dishonour who we are and what we so religiously fought for back in 1967. Deep in our hearts we all yearn for the good times to come back. The times when crime knew its place and kept itself at bay. But in the vicissitudes of life there is no constant. The shooting and killing, we don’t want it but ist here nonetheless. Using guns have somehow become the newest trend and without one you are nothing. It doesn’t matter that hiding behind a gun denotes cowardice and any fool could do it. Nor does it seem to register in anybodys mind that any dispute could be settled in a simple duel of man vs muscle. Never being one to encourage the human race using each other as life sized punchbags in retrospect of the latest happenings in and around Anguilla, to see a good clean fight, one without bullets would not only calm my fears but give me hope that all may be well again.
To bring it all to an end a word of wisdom to those in need. It doesn’t take much to pull a trigger and watch it go. A steady hand and accurate eyesight may be all you need. But those come a dime a dozen. The real power lays in the man who meets an enemy head on with nothing but guts and grits. There can never be a good enough reason to end a persons life or even attempt to do it.
THE STORY OF ISLAND HARBOUR
One thing that all schools of thought are certain of is that in prehistoric time, before European and African settlement came the Arawaks. At that time in what is now called Island Harbour, a large Arawak settlement made it their home. The Big Springs with it numerous petroglyphs was one of their ceremonial centers and there are still artifacts to prove their presence. These previous settlers are the same persons who named the island after their native language term for ‘eel like’- Anguilla.
There is avid speculation as to how the village got its present name however. On one hand there are those who are of the view that the village got its name because of a ship with several Irishmen aboard that ran aground there. The Irishmen made a settlement in the village and gave it the name Ireland Harbour. Over the years the name evolved to the present name – Island Harbour.
Then there are those like Mr. Colville Petty OBE who are of the view that the area had gotten its name from the small island in the harbour, therefore Island Harbour. Scilly Cay, located practically in the harbour is today one of the many tourist attractions in Anguilla. What is not disputed is that several white Irish colonists settled the area. This accounts for the prevalence of light-skinned people living in the area. Moreover the accent of these people is unlike that of any other part of the island. Pronunciation of certain words, for example ‘pen’ pronounced ‘pin’ serves to further distinguish persons from Island Harbour.
What has also shaped this village in to one unlike any other on the island is its love for Country and Western Music. Country and Western has served in Island Harbour as Jazz has done for black U.S.A. Its words inspire and serve as refuge for the destitute. Some can affirm that it even makes you dance while others cry. This musical genre bonds the community as sometimes on Saturday night at the Island Harbour pond, one can be entertained by persons singing Country music. These concerts are quite a hit with the people. The concerts serve as not only a place for entertainment but to socialize and just have fun.
Evan Webster, renowned Country and Western singer stated that ‘Country has a message, whether like, love or nature. He also said that this type of music has a long lasting effect. Certainly, those who listen to the message of Country and Western go away with some kind of insight. This music without doubt has not aged through time, since all can benefit. Some say regardless of how many times they listen to a Country song they can always gather something new. It is as if the songs were created just for them.
We all wonder why this village is so attached to Country and some like Mr. Webster say it’s ancestral. The Irish, of who they say Island Harbour’s natives descended from are, know for Country and Folk music. Given this statement, it serves as a link between the descendents and their heritage. It serves as a historical bond between Ireland and Island Harbour. Island Harbour has also been associated with fishing and boat building. Fishing in days gone by served as most people’s livelihood. Today, it still serves as a livelihood for some. One can see persons returning from fishing on or around Scrub Island. Later they can be seen selling their catch in the village and in surrounding villages.
Some ask why is this village so attached to the sea. The answer lies both in its proximity to the sea and historical theories. Being so near to the sea and the advantages perceived by being so near, Island Harbour’s people became a community of fishermen and boat builders. Boat building is an integral part of this culture given the fact that their ancestors have been associated with boats. It is something as Pastor Davis Lloyd stated ‘that those before them [us] started and have continued through out the generations. This part of Island Harbour’s culture is showing no sign of becoming extinguished.’
Boats are not only used for fishing but for transportation and for sport. On a regular Saturday or Sunday boats transport tourists and natives alike to Scilly Cay for a day in the sun with musical entertainment and tasty seafood dishes.
Several times a year the island has boat races to commemorate certain holidays such as Easter Monday and Anguilla Day. It is an assurance that boats from this village will be there. They have taken the championship on numerous occasions over the years of boat racing on the island. When the ‘Irish’ settlers came to the island in the 18th century, it had been noted that there were some prejudices that later surfaced between them and the African descendents in other parts of the island. We now live in a 21st century Anguilla and this thinking has seemed to disappear.
Island Harbour is a community bonded to its past but moving into the future. They have served to diversify the island and have made a noticeable contribution to the island and its culture.
|The first Webster to reach Anguilla was a shipwrecked English sailor who staggered ashore in 1707 after 31 terrible days in an open boat. The Anguillian version of the ancient Mariner stayed on the island. He defended it against the French in 1745. His grandson repeated the feat against another French attack in 1796.
- Daily Mirror, Wednesday, April 9th 1969. Colin Richardson.
Practice what you Preach
Everyone who is anyone knows what being a true Anguillian means. It is far removed from just being born here and it is even more distant from being raised here. As for just having Anguillian parentage, well lets just say you couldn't be anymore 'not Anguillian' than if you were born on one of the Azores islands!
What correctly identifies an Anguillian, whether they were born here, raised here or what have you...is their uncanny ability to Gossip! He said, she said, they all said! Which to be honest is okay, if they were living their own words and following their own advice. Hypocrisy in our society. A stable, constant and overwhelming presence. Always, there is someone you know who makes it their ambition to tell you how to live your life, who to talk to, what to do, what not to do and when you take time to think about it, their lives are even more messed up than yours.
As adolescents, we are faced with choices that will more or less determine our future and can have a devastating effect, should our choices be bad ones. So, it is understandable that parents would seek to help out in this area and try to direct us on the right path. But direct is the operative word! One particular mother when asked declared, “my daughter ain’t bringing no man home to me till she reach 18!”. Did I mention this very mother had this very daughter at age 15? We've got parents trying (and sometimes succeeding) in making decisions for their kids primarily based on the notion that they will somehow be rewarded with a life that they themselves never had. Which of course is a noble and worthy illusion but what some of them fail to realize is that for a child to grow into a respectable and responsible adult they must be shown the same example from the respective parent. We've got so many loud mouthed, dim-witted parents whose idea of a good time is partying at Johnno’s and coming home drunk, and then having the gall to give their kids a thorough bawling-out when they happen to meet up at the same joint. This reeks of Hypocrisy, because how do you expect a child to be anything more than what you train them to be. And then they are appalled when the child answers back with a few ‘bad words’ which are an exact replica of the abuse being thrown in their faces!
But it is not only in the home that we encounter such blatant falsity. Most of us grew up in the true Anguillian way. Under the guise of a Religious, Christian upbringing. It might indeed be factual to say that at some moment in each of our lives we have attended church and are therefore plenty familiar with the doctrines and beliefs of the spiritual word. Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness...But since we 'All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God' -Romans 3:23, it is safe to say that we have all strayed. A situation we would have no problem accepting if some of us weren’t always reminded by our more 'devout' Christian friends that our diabolical lifestyle will send us straight to hell!!!! Right.!!….So we bear false witness and we don't always love our neighbour but what gives you the right to judge, especially since your precious HOLY BIBLE states clearly, 'judge not less ye be judged'. And by the way, the last time I checked Sex before marriage was still a sin. Though of course it wouldn't appear so should we start listing the many church going, Christian girls who were getting pregnant. But who knows? Perhaps there were more than one Virgin Mary that we ‘sinners’ didn’t know about. Seems to me if you are going to question anybody’s actions, your own backyard should be the first place to start. And let us not forget those church leaders who seemed to confuse their sexual preferences and decided to explore their options…(oops!..did I just go there). You see no-one would really care about things like this if these people didn’t profess their piety so much! "For the wages of sin is death"..."Well excuse me Mr. Pastor, Preacher, Choirboy! Fornication is also on the list of THOU SHALT NOTS….and so is homosexuality!"
Our social influences are undoubtedly whack! The teachings of the church , we can only shake our heads and hope for the better. What happens in our home we can make no fuss-after all its not like we get to choose. However, we do get to choose our political leaders, who by far are the greatest Hypocrites of all time!!! “This time we shall have new this, better that and yada yada yada.” Each politician yaps on and on about what they plan to do and how they plan to do it. Filling up our heads with their artificially sweetened promises. And then when the time comes around for fulfilling these oaths suddenly something else becomes more important and once again we are duped. Which only means that they didn’t intend on doing anything in the first place, just more examples of hypocrisy in a business man’s suit. These are the leaders of whose character and morality we should model. The same leaders who do everything in their power to defray the level of violence on the island yet, in August 1986, during a heated discussion at The house of Assembly, The Honourable Mr. Eric Reid socked a good one to The Honourable Mr. Hubert Hughes knocking the man out cold! How in the world are we supposed to be upstanding citizens if we are subjected to tales of a Court House brawl by members of our chosen Government? How are we supposed to live as one when our leaders, the very backbone of our community can’t even stand straight themselves. And then, every five years we are showered with speeches of pompous self-gratification, these grown men and women standing on their pedestals , trying to outdo their opponents through means of degradation, dishonesty and in some desperate cases, bribery. A Sandy Ground native recalls a certain political candidate who presented her with a ‘ large G&E refrigerator’ in return for her vote. How true this is, we don’t know. We only have her word for it. Her word and a ‘large G&E refrigerator’ sitting in her kitchen 5 years after. You be the judge.
As a young person growing up in Anguilla there exists, a plethora of ‘moral guidelines’ for us to follow. Its always one huge battle after the other. We can never seem to please anyone and my advice is not to try. Every Tut, Mut and Sam has a skeleton hidden somewhere in their closet but the hypocrite in them would have you think not. Scientist Keith Stanovich, renowned for his clinical studies on Hypocrisy in today’s society and author of ‘A Robots Rebellion’, defines hypocrisy as ‘the collision of first order and second order thought.’ In his book he indicates that there are two types of human thinking. First and second order thought. First order thought would be our raw basic desires resultant of our genealogy while second order thinking rises high above this normal rationale, focusing on greater needs, desires, principles and goals. In a nutshell what Stanovich wants us to believe is that hypocrisy occurs when second order thinkers have the intelligence to veer from first order thinking hence making themselves strong evaluators. AS IF!!! This scientific jabber proves nothing and solves even less. The last thing we need is a valid justified reason for the pot to call the kettle black.
Nevertheless there are a million and one other things in life that are far worse than simply being a hypocrite. If you choose to throw stones knowing full well your house is made of glass, then that is nobody’s business but your own. Maybe you get a thrill from identifying someone else’s weaknesses and forgetting your own, maybe its how you get your kicks. But trust me, it is nothing to be proud of. You want to live a life of purpose and fulfillment then follow your heart and do what you believe is right. Concentrate on nothing else but what you are doing and how you are doing it. If life is about choices then choose to make it yours. Do not try and build ideals for yourself, that may be unreachable. Don’t chat everything you see and consider yourself above that code of etiquette because when and if you fall you will be seen as nothing else but a hypocrite. That is the problem with society on a whole. There are too many ideas of what is right and what is acceptable. Parents, quit telling us what to do, and stop questioning our antics. We take after you!!! Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if I go to hell I will be among friends, so no need to worry. We will all dine together (I take my tea without sugar, by the way). And my esteemed politicians…um…well….oh forget it!…You all will never change.
What Youths Do In Neighbouring Islands?
Youth are rarely associated with positive development within our society. Yes… we ‘youngsters’ like to hang out and party… and as some would say, “its all part of growing up,” thus, it is a natural occurrence. So, one will find that the atmosphere on a Friday night on the breezy shoreline of Sandy Ground village will inevitably be youthful! As the melodious sounds of the Mussington Brothers blend with this atmosphere… one cannot help but groove. If it does work out that we are not grooving (which is highly unlikely), we’re probably taking a break! But no Friday lime is complete without pizza from Corner Bar or J&J’s, which introduces a new activity – eating pizza in the radiance of the stargazed, moonlit sky on the Sandy Ground Wharf while ‘cracking’ bellyaching jokes.
On the contrary, who said technology wasn’t fun? The typical young person finds intense enjoyment through telephone conversations, or satisfying curiosity while browsing the web and researching. The weekend lime usually consists of “going south,” to St. Maarten/St. Martin, or hanging out at the library, which is probably recognized as the most crowded place on a Saturday afternoon, until 3 pm.
More often than not, young people are targeted as the “party animals,” and I mean we do love to party, but there are numerous organizations that exist within our society that youth are apart of, and they have and are continuing to contribute or play some significant role, be it directly or indirectly in our societal development.
Some of these include the church groups like the Anglican Young Peoples Association, (AYPA), the recent but blooming Bethel United Visioneers and other Methodist Groups, The Church of God of Holiness Youth Aflame, The Pathfinders, the Girl Guides, Brownies, Cub Scouts and Girls and Boys Brigades, to name a few.
These groups reach the youth on a spiritual level by teaching them the necessary values through ministering, fellowship, and evangelism. Gladly, they help in the rounded socialization of the youth, be it by singing, dancing, camping or bonfires, and according to Miss Arlette Richardson, a young woman at the Ebenezer Methodist Church, this is important as ‘Christianity and religion, helps to facilitate social order.’
Whether we find ourselves sitting at a Leo meeting on Tuesday evenings, at a Literary and Debating Society meeting on Thursday after school, exploring our hidden talents in the performing arts at the All-Ah-Wee Young Theatre Players on Thursdays and Saturdays, swaying to the pulsating rhythms of the Mussington Brothers on a Friday night, or simply chatting on msn messenger, it is often the opinion of many that the youth in the other islands are more privileged when it comes to liming, hanging out and even the youth organizations that they are involved in. Though our neighbouring islands may differ in geography and probably culture, an investigation into the whereabouts of their youth proved to be quite similar.
Interestingly enough, we realized that the ‘young people’ of these islands had similar existing youth organizations. They too love to party and love to hang out. Take the sister islands of St. Kitts and Nevis firstly, they both have organizations, like the Debating Society, Drama Groups and Church groups, like the AYPA. In St. Kitts the Friday night lime for most young people is at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), for debating meetings. Ms. Janelle Powelle, president of the society, says that ‘debating pulls a large crowd, and the advantage of that is that you get people involved in something instead of doing nothing.’ But don’t worry after this intellectual scene the invigorating crowd moves on to one of the night clubs like Dolce Cabana for a night of dance.
Brownies and Girl guides are also in existence and so too are other clubs which aide in the social and healthy development of the youth. There is the X-treem velocity track club in St. Kitts, which teaches discipline, a healthy lifestyle and provides educational opportunities. There are young political organizations, which help in molding the minds of future political leaders in groups such as the St. Kitts Nevis Youth Parliament Association, (SKNYPA) the St. Kitts Nevis Young Labour Association, and the National Young Pamites Association. Ms. Michelena Mills describes these organizations as ‘avenues to develop positive character, and to enhance debating and parliamentary skills.
Across the waters, the usual Friday night lime for the youth of Nevis is most definitely V's Courtyard Café, which promotes a very cool and relaxing hang out atmosphere where one can chill out, eat or ‘work up a sweat’ according to Mr. Andrew Dean Williams. There is also Chevy's Beach club, which usually gets started from 9:00pm until 2:00am. On weekends, the spotlight disco comes alive, along with the previously mentioned clubs, however, whenever the youngsters aren’t boogying at a club they are grooving at a party or a dance held at various locations.
The youth organizations within Nevis include the Discovery Club, the Karate Club, Red Cross and many Church groups just like those in the other islands. Additionally, there are dance groups including the Stepz Dance Company, Oualie Dance Theatre, and Caribbean Rhythms, which promote self-expression and the performing arts, and the Nevis Cascading Arts Theatre, which stage plays annually.
Within the eyes of the youth these organizations have been successful as they have all been able to motivate and encourage some of the youth of the country as well as provide forums for participation and the enhancement of talents and skills possessed by the young individuals. Not surprisingly, the Antiguan youth also enjoy partying, be it at Club Traffic, or the 18 Karat Night Club. There are also church groups like the Anglican Young People’s Association and the Girl Guides, Brownies and Cub Scouts within the island. The National Youth Council of Antigua and Barbuda, Youth for Christ, and the Young Men and Women’s Christian Association, are other youth groups found there.
The young people of Montserrat are also involved in church groups like the AYPA and the Catholic Youth Council (CYC). The latter meets every Friday night, which gives plenty young people an excuse to leave their homes, says Mr. Gordon Lee, and which ‘encourages young people to go to church, as it is the first start in leading a better life.’ The Scouts, Brownies, Girl Guides, Rangers and Cadet Core are also existent, and there are groups like the Montserrat Young Entrepreneurs (MYP) and Youth Parliament, which have been successful in aiding in the better education of young people, when it comes to money making and business skills.
Youth Parliament increases the awareness among youth, by making them knowledgeable about the government and its functions. Of course like every weekend in every other neighbouring island, there is most likely a club to go to. For them the weekend lime is whichever club is having a dance, or whoever is playing the better music. So the youngsters are either partying at Club VIP, Goodlife or the Den.
Generally speaking, youths take pride in enjoying themselves. Whether it is at church, at home, at school or at a party. We are always looking for something to do or somewhere to go, because we always seem to get bored. What stems this boredom you may ask? Well the truth is we really don’t know. All we know is that we always want to have something to occupy our time. Unfortunately though, as many organizations that are out there, there are still many who find their way into trouble…or trouble comes looking for them. Whatever the case is society needs to become more involved with the youth and recommend avenues that we could possibly employ to aid in eradicating boredom and encouraging more youth to explore the possibility of becoming members of groups.
A Conversation with Tonya Stephens: Gangsta Gal
Clad in fitted jeans and Von Dutch baseball hat, Tanya Stephens sat across from me, her eyes twinkling like the rhinestones that studded her pink tank top. She threw her head back and laughed again; we were discussing a scene out of Shrek 2. Granted I had commenced the interview with standard questions, but by the time the first half hour had closed, it had morphed into a good old-fashioned conversation, and we were discussing cartoon feature films.
The Shrek movies and Road to El Dorado appeared to rank high on Tanya’s list of favourites. However, don’t let her movie choices fool you, this mother, career woman and part time student knows when to get serious. A well based “superwoman”, Tanya Stephens not only rocks the airwaves with hits like 1997’s “Goggle” and the more recent “Good Ride”; she rocks the books…law books to be precise. In the little spare time that she can muster, Tanya furthers her education. Talking to me, she sounded much like the typical student, complaining about having to remember dates for Caribbean History.
“For a while I thought I was going to be a lawyer because my mother say I chat too much” she pauses for a laugh, “I’m really interested in psychology and law. With an education, your opportunities can be much wider, and I say that from experience.” And as an afterthought adds, “Oh and hold off the kids. My daughter is great and she’s beautiful and I love her, but I feel I could have offered her a lot more if I’d done the work and the school thing first and the mother thing after. When you make a dollar when you’re a child, that’s what it is, a dollar…your parents have to pay the rent”
Tanya voices her concern that travelling and studio time are impeding on her roll as a mother to her 10 year old daughter. “Life right now is like a circus act.” She says with a laugh. Her daughter, however, appears to be a good sport about it. “When I’m going somewhere she always has a list of things for me to bring back.” Says Tanya, “And when she runs out of things, her friends have their own lists.” Laughing, Tanya tells about her experiences as a mother, recounting an instance where she took a gaggle of her daughter’s friends to Burger King. “Children,” Tanya says, “are just the nicest people. They’re just so pure. Our lives are so complicated, and they haven’t been touched by that yet.”
Complicated is something that Tanya Stephens has definitely had experience with. The typical 9-5 that most people have is not something Tanya does readily. “I think I’m very privileged…I think that if I had a regular 9-5 job I would not be travelling that much because I’d be at work” Tanya says. Travelling is something that she does often, especially now that her popularity is growing regionally. However, while we in Anguilla may figuratively grovel at Tanya’s feet, in Jamaica it’s quite a different story. “Jamaican people are different. Jamaican people look at you from a distance and say loudly ‘oh that’s her, that’s her’ just so that you can hear. They’re not coming up to you, or maybe not really, they might just stop and say hi. I think we’re a very proud set of people…more trying to prove that ‘she’s not more than me’” She says with a laugh. Perhaps they have the wrong view, thinking maybe that fame and wealth bring on an influx of narcissism. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Generous and well meaning, Tanya says, “it’s not always about money, sometimes you’re doing stuff for different causes.”
With lyrics that appeal to young and old alike, and songs that reflect a broad spectrum of emotional synapses, who wouldn’t want to see this marvellous woman in concert? And what a concert she gave Anguilla. Speaking with Tanya was an intellectual journey albeit injected with humour. However, while the interview, well conversation, was good, nothing could compare to her subsequent performance at the Landsome Bowl Cultural Centre that night. With the fervour and candidness that she has built her reputation on, Tanya Stephens scored yet another victory for women from all walks. Tanya says though she is all for the fair treatment of women, she is not a “man hater” as she is often pegged. She says that everyone regardless of gender should respect one another. That she says is her claim: For women to be respected.
She says that she is just doing her bit to erase the vicious cycle of double standards which tell women that they are inferior to men. Why, she exclaims, should she be subjected to ideologies which tell her that she ought not be as intelligent, strong and determined as a man. Jokingly, she adds, I should not have to stay a certain age for society to consider me attractive. “The other day I turned 16 for the 15th time”
Tanya Stephen’s mellifluous voice and contagious laughter rang through to me subsequent to our meeting. Listening to her music now, I can feel the depth that it portrays and the personal meaning it has to Tanya and to everyone else.