Caribbean Beat Magazine

Need to know | Event calendar (Mar/Apr 2021)

Essential info to help you make the most of March and April — even in the middle of a pandemic

  • Photo by Carole Anne Ferris/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo courtesy Neil Marshall
  • Pennépis. Photo by Michelle Aleksa/Shutterstock.com
  • Writer Vahni Capildeo, chief judge for the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize. Photo by Hayley Madden, courtesy Bocas Lit Fest
  • © Copyright 2020 Splice Studios/Abigail Hadeed, courtesy Gillian Moor
  • Among the emerging artists featured at CaFa 2021 is Barbadian Akilah Watts, who works in media including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Her most recent works touch on issues of race and culture, as well as ideas of belonging and beauty

Just a Roll
  • Fresh to Death (2020, acrylic, 24 x 24 inches). Courtesy Akilah Watts
  • Photo courtesy Hairouna Film Festival

Don’t Miss

Kite season

Dozens of kites dancing in the sky with tails fluttering in the glorious breeze — not to mention holiday-induced grins on children’s faces — confirm it’s Easter time. Trinidad’s Queens Park Savannah, Barbados’s Garrison Savannah, Grenada’s Fort Jeudy, Jamaica’s Grizzly’s Plantation, Guyana’s Sea Wall, and neighbourhoods around the Caribbean are popular venues for kite mania, at its height during the dry season. Other traditional Easter activities may not be possible during COVID-19 times, but the thrill of seeing your kite soar aloft is perfectly suited to being in the socially distanced outdoors — whether you opt for a traditional hexagonal kite handmade from paper and cocoyea strips, or a fancy plastic model bought at a toy shop.

Shelly-Ann Inniss

Photo by Carole Anne Ferris/Alamy Stock Photo
Photo by Carole Anne Ferris/Alamy Stock Photo

Word of Mouth

Little Thoughts on Big Matters

Along with their ABCs and 123s, all school children should know about the three Rs — reduce, reuse, and recycle, to cut down on discarded waste that burdens and pollutes the natural environment. In recent years, some Caribbean countries have even banned single-use plastics, but this is just a start. We each have to play our part for a cleaner, healthier world, says Maria Marshall — an eleven-year old environmental advocate and perhaps the youngest filmmaker in Barbados. Her multiple-award-winning short film Little Thoughts on Big Matters has earned her global recognition, including from Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and British actor and UNICEF Global Ambassador Orlando Bloom. As we observe World Recycling Day on 18 March, Marshall tells Shelly-Ann Inniss how recycling makes a difference

Photo courtesy Neil Marshall
Photo courtesy Neil Marshall
Are recycling, and environmental mindfulness generally, part of Barbadian culture?

Yes, Barbadians tend to repurpose items a lot, and this is noticeable with the beautifully painted tyre gardens in community parks and around homes. Even at our schools you will see teachers repurposing ice cream and formula containers as crayon canisters. At the government level, there are signs, public service announcements, numerous garbage bins, and posters encouraging people to dispose of their trash properly. 

If you were a junior environmental minister, what are some activities or rules you would implement? 

With such a responsibility,and knowing that most habits start at a very young age, I would implement a new subject within the school system that strictly deals with environmental awareness. Just as children learn maths and English, they would learn how to protect and care for their surroundings and develop a thoughtfulness about preserving the environment. The whole world would benefit. 

Do you have any favourite items that you have up-cycled or repurposed as a form of recycling? 

One of my favourite repurposed items is a coconut shell. My aunt sometimes makes coconut oil and uses a lot of them. At my primary school, our theme was “Go Nuts”, and each class had to come up with an idea for how to use materials from the coconut tree. I decided to use the shells as small hanging pots. Thirty students designed and painted their own coconut hanging pots and then planted small herbs in them. It was so lovely to see all those shells being used for something that was beautiful and sustainable. 

What tips do you have for people who don’t know much about recycling? 

I think we make this thing seem difficult, but it is actually easy. Everyone can do it in their day-to-day lives just by asking themselves some simple questions: do I really need to buy this right now or ever? Can I repurpose this in some way? It is your way of thinking about things that may need a little tweaking. We only have one earth, and we must all try our very best to protect it.

Apart from your YouTube channel, where can we tune in for Little Thoughts on Big Matters? 

As much as my Little Thoughts on Big Matters has travelled the globe, I am still only eleven years old, and I have to listen to my parents. So for now I am only on YouTube, but hope to have my new works showcased at various film festivals locally, regionally, and hopefully internationally.

You have been called the Bajan Greta Thunberg. What does this mean to you?

I am Barbados’s Maria Marshall. I believe that we have the same hope of having a safe, clean, and living Earth for all people and animals, but I think our approaches are different. 

Watch Little Thoughts on Big Matters on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dguJcEpC-s


Must Try

St Lucian Easter treats

From bun and cheese in Jamaica to crab matoutou in Martinique, culinary treats are a beloved Easter tradition across the Caribbean. So what do St Lucians look forward to, come Easter weekend? Writer John Robert Lee, with help from his wife Veronica, shares some of the island’s traditional Easter dishes with Shelly-Ann Inniss.

Some Caribbean countries have a go-to cookbook. Is there one in St Lucia?

Our favourite St Lucian cookbook is Manjé Kwéyòl: Food Culture in
St Lucia
. It gives useful information about how our food reflects Kwéyòl culture, and provides recipes for traditional foods and drinks.

What top Easter recipes does it highlight? 

Akwa lamowi — which are saltfish accra or bakes — kolédé, and pennépis. Kolédé is an accra made with a mixture of small fish — for example, sardines, or a tiny river fish called twi-twi caught at the river mouth with baskets — and flour batter.

And how would you describe pennépis?

Pennépis, or “penny-a-piece” — or “pain d’épice,” spice bread, as Derek Walcott calls it in his poetry, using the French spelling — with its strong ginger taste was always a favourite Easter treat — and still is. It is flat, like a large brown wafer, crunchy, with protuberances of the chips of ginger over it. Some say the burning sensation from the ginger will remind you of Jesus’s pain and passion. 

Do you have any fond memories around cooking at Easter? 

I’ll have to consult my wife Veronica for her memories.

What does Veronica recommend for an Easter snack?

She recommends the kolédé, also a confectionary called konfiti patat, and a drink called mango colada. All these recipes are found in the Manjé Kwéyòl cookbook, and no doubt familiar in creative versions to our Caribbean family. I’ll enjoy those, and some pennépis.

Pennépis. Photo by Michelle Aleksa/Shutterstock.com
Pennépis. Photo by Michelle Aleksa/Shutterstock.com

Pennépis

Ingredients:

½ lb flour
¼ lb sugar
½ cup water
¼ lb fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine sugar and water in a pan. Simmer over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and forms a syrup. Then allow mixture to cool.

Peel the light skin off the ginger (you can do this easily by scraping it with a small sharp knife), wash, and grate finely, then add ginger to flour.

Slowly add sugar syrup to flour and ginger mixture and form into dough. Do not make dough too sticky.

Pull dough into two-inch pieces, and using a rolling pin or a clean one-quart bottle, roll into paper-thin sheets.

Put rolled-out dough on greased baking sheets and place in oven. Pennépis are done when they are golden brown, and you have to constantly monitor them because they cook very quickly. Try placing just one sheet in the oven at first — you may find you can just about roll out one while the previous one bakes. Don’t let them overcook, or the sugar might begin to taste bitter.

Source: islandeffect.com


Top Five

T&T’s NGC Bocas Lit Fest thrives online

The past year has been a trial by fire — or, more literally, a trial by pandemic — for Caribbean culture, as COVID-19 health regulations, lockdowns, and travel restrictions have resulted in closed theatres and galleries, cancelled concerts and festivals, and general hardship for many who work in creative professions. But some art forms, it turns out, are well suited to this new socially distanced life. Curling up with a good book has long been a solo activity. And while booksellers in many parts of the world report bumper sales figures, literary festivals like Trinidad and Tobago’s NGC Bocas Lit Fest have temporarily reinvented themselves in a virtual format, broadcasting online to regional and international audiences.

In its eleventh year, Bocas promises a full programme of online events — from workshops and seminars aimed at budding authors to discussion panels tackling topical issues, and the popular Bios & Bookmarks series, broadcast on Sunday afternoons, where authors read from and discuss their recent books. The highlight is a virtual festival on the weekend of 23 to 25 April, offering two and a half days of sessions where stories and ideas from the Caribbean are front and centre. Here’s our pick of the 2021 NGC Bocas Lit Fest programme — and a sneak preview of what’s in store for book lovers.

Writer Vahni Capildeo, chief judge for the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize. Photo by Hayley Madden, courtesy Bocas Lit Fest
Writer Vahni Capildeo, chief judge for the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize. Photo by Hayley Madden, courtesy Bocas Lit Fest
The OCM Bocas Prize announcement

The most coveted annual award for Caribbean literature recognises winners in categories for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction — with an overall winner to be announced by chief judge Vahni Capildeo on the evening of Saturday 24 April. Look out, too, for recorded readings by the shortlisted writers.

Imagining the Caribbean future

A high-level debate on the festival’s Sunday morning brings together a distinguished panel representing politics, science, and economics to consider the way ahead for the Caribbean, and answer questions posed by young people from across the region.

A landmark novel turns twenty-five

Published in 1996, the now classic novel Cereus Blooms at Night by Trinidadian-Canadian author Shani Mootoo broke barriers in placing complex queer Caribbean characters at the heart of a story about love and loss. A special event marking the book’s quarter-century anniversary brings its author together with writers of a younger generation to discuss its legacy.

Remembering “Shake” Keane

Vincentian icon Ellsworth “Shake” Keane, who died in 1997, is remembered for both his music — he was a celebrated jazz trumpeter — and his poetry. Writer Philip Nanton brings him to life in a new biography, celebrated with an evening of poems and music.

Celebrating 2021’s new books

At the heart of the festival programme, authors of new books share their words and discuss their ideas. Look out for sessions focused on historical fiction, contemporary noir, magic realism, transnational family stories, and more.

For more information on the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, visit bocaslitfest.com. The 2021 festival programme will be launched in March, and virtual events are streamed at youtube.com/bocaslitfest and facebook.com/bocaslitfest


Listen In

Everchanging

Amanda Choo Quan talks to Gillian Moor about the T&T musician’s long-awaited album

“I’m honoured,” Gillian Moor responds. I’ve just thanked her for the interview — one in which, in her soft but precise way, she has guided me through her new album (“It’s the best thing I ever made,” she states). In truth, I should have said it first. Moor’s career started in 1992 as part of Homefront, a trio making a name when rapso could sell out stadiums in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean Sound Basin studio was used to record music by the Notorious B.I.G. and General Grant (instead of for, well, who knows?). 

Despite the waxing and waning of T&T’s mainstream interest in local, non-soca music, Moor has written and performed on her own for a quarter of a century. She has served as both griot and gatherer, turning venues into confessionals with her raw kaiso-rock — and launching the careers of others through Songshine, an open-mic series she started in 2004 and paused in 2019 due to COVID. Musician and actor Nickolai Salcedo has described it as his “first start.”

Documented sparingly, Moor’s songs have mainly been the domain of the stage — ranging from sparkling numbers performed acoustically at festivals (the folksy “Hold on Tight”, for instance), to gritty, vulnerable feminist anthems best heard at a club under cover of darkness (“Half a Heart”). 

Everchanging, Moor’s new full-length album, is therefore both retrospective and debut. “I have been in the space so long, and yet . . .” she says. In the end, the album — the summation of her career — was made possible partly by a grant from the state-owned enterprise MusicTT, and partly through extensive fundraising. 

© Copyright 2020 Splice Studios/Abigail Hadeed, courtesy Gillian Moor
© Copyright 2020 Splice Studios/Abigail Hadeed, courtesy Gillian Moor

Finally released in July 2020, Everchanging is at once intimate and political, truth-telling about the enduring pain felt by society’s silenced (particularly by women and the underclass). It’s also musically deft, steered by Moor’s piercing vocals — rich and reminiscent of Lilith Fair — and dipping into blues, funk, calypso, and hard rock. This is all the work of Moor and her team, which includes the producer Ravi Maharaj, a.k.a. a_phake, and musicians Joanna Hussein and Jon Otway.

“When we crafted the order of songs, we wanted to take people on a journey that would have a couple of unexpected twists,” Moor explains. “Go dark at some point, come back from that, show heartbreak, show anger, show despair. But it always comes back to hope.” A standout is “Big Snake (War on Crime)”, a rollicking protest anthem that borrows melodically from extempo — replete with sly saxophone — giving way to a harder, trickier rock rhythm over which Moor wryly sings “We gonna lock up all them smokers / Kidnap and murder stop / And give the police endless power / Trust those cops.” 

“Big Snake,” written long before Black Lives Matter, is testament to the sticking power of astute songwriting. It feels, as does the album, as though recorded live, bringing to mind Moor lit up on stage, baring soul and teeth in a time before. Let Everchanging tell us why it should not take a pandemic to remember Trinidad’s surfeit of talent.

For more information about Everchanging, visit www.gillianmoor.com


On View

New Barbadian artists at CaFa

For ten years and counting, Barbados’s Caribbean Fine Art Fair (CaFa) has celebrated the region’s visual artists and their role in the international art scene. The fair — which runs this year from 10 to 24 March, virtually and in-person — showcases individual artists and small thematic exhibits by art galleries. One 2021 highlight is a non-traditional exhibit curated by Zoe Osborne of Mahogany Culture Collective, featuring seven up-and-coming Barbadian artists — Brandon K. Best, Alex Gibson, Housing Area,\Sydney McConney, Akilah Watts, Chris Rocket, and John Alleyne — at the Exchange Centre Gallery in Bridgetown. Diaspora Dialogue, a CaFa signature exhibit, is also scheduled, including a virtual panel. Look out for work by Dominica’s Earl D. Etienne and Puerto Rican Diogenes Ballester, alongside global diaspora artists from Africa and the United States, and exhibits from US-based galleries Calabar and Ebony Art.

For more information about the CaFA programme and participating artists, visit cafafair.com

Among the emerging artists featured at CaFa 2021 is Barbadian Akilah Watts, who works in media including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Her most recent works touch on issues of race and culture, as well as ideas of belonging and beauty

Just a Roll
Among the emerging artists featured at CaFa 2021 is Barbadian Akilah Watts, who works in media including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Her most recent works touch on issues of race and culture, as well as ideas of belonging and beauty.
Just a Roll and Set (2020, acrylic, 24 x 24 inches). Courtesy Akilah Watts
Fresh to Death (2020, acrylic, 24 x 24 inches). Courtesy Akilah Watts
Fresh to Death (2020, acrylic, 24 x 24 inches). Courtesy Akilah Watts

Word of mouth

Caribbean stories at the Hairouna Film Festival

Vincentian filmmaker Aiko Roudette, director of the annual Hairouna Film Festival, shares her perspectives on contemporary Caribbean film, as HFF makes its virtual debut from 20 to 28 March

Each year, when reviewing films submitted for consideration to be screened at the Hairouna Film Festival, we are filled with joy at what we encounter: a flood of films from Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, St Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, and of course St Vincent. Films that are brave, hilarious, and strange. Some are comedies, some are dramas, but they are all love letters to our beautiful region, born from the committed vision of a Caribbean creative. Even those films that deal with darker themes of corruption, envy, or abuse promote ideas of a strength and manner of dealing with hardship that is uniquely Caribbean. 

These are ourCaribbean stories, and they come from the heart of who we are. In Mama’s Story from Barbadian filmmaker Chukwuemeka Iweza — an official selection for HFF 2021 — the character Ms Unis acknowledges the role of folktales in passing along cultural realities.“Every folk song got a lil bit of truth in it,” she says. Akin to a folktale passed from ear to ear, film is our twenty-first-century way of transmitting and creating our own cultural truth.

In the last decade, filmmaking equipment has become more accessible across the Caribbean, resulting in a steady stream of cultural production that honours, celebrates, and upholds our region. This vision of Caribbeanness brings us together to exchange ideas, bonded through different perspectives on shared experiences. It is the unifying quality of these films that presents us with great healing potential on a personal and collective level. 

One of the Hairouna Film Festival’s main objectives is to spread this potential to as many Caribbean people as we can. We consider ourselves an equal opportunities social impact project. Our festival is entirely free, happens outdoors in public places, and travels to approximately eight different Vincentian communities each year. In 2021, we will be virtual, which means that even more people across the region and the world will have the chance to participate. Workshops, screenings, and post-screening Q&As will be held online at the end of March. This year, we will also launch the first ever National Script Writing Competition held in St Vincent and the Grenadines, open to Vincentian nationals, including those living in the diaspora. Finalists will be invited to a three-day writing residency where they will get mentorship from top industry professionals, and the winner will be awarded funds and supported through the production of their short film — bringing another unique Caribbean story into the world.

For more information about the 2021 Hairouna Film Festival and its virtual programming, visit www.hairounaff.org

Photo courtesy Hairouna Film Festival
Photo courtesy Hairouna Film Festival