Are we moving towards the cancellation of “chanté Nwèl” and carnival in Guadeloupe?

Photo: Évelyne Chaville

President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, announced in his televised speech on Wednesday 28 October, a second lockdown of the country (with some adjustments) which will start from this Friday October 20, 2020.

On Thursday October 29, Prime Minister Jean Castex held a press conference in which he detailed the restriction measures taken by the French government to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

On the same day, the Prefect of Guadeloupe, Alexandre Rochatte, and the Director of the Regional Health Agency (ARS), after consultation with the Covid-19 Monitoring Committee – composed in particular of the rector of the Guadeloupe Academy, elected representatives (deputies, President of the Regional Council, President of the Departmental Council, etc.) and representatives of socio-professional organizations – spoke to the journalists at the sub-prefecture of Pointe-à-Pitre to decine locally the measures that the archipelago will have to apply in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. The big news is that Guadeloupe, like other French territories in the Caribbean (St Martin, St Barthélemy and Guiana) escaped this second lockdown. Martinique is once again in lockdown like France. But a sword of Damocles is hanging over Guadeloupe : if any degradation is observed, the territory will also be in lockdown.

Some announcements made by the representative of the French State are about our uses and customs and our culture. Thus, the feast of All Saints on November 1, when traditionally people honours their dead in the cemeteries, will be controlled.

Moreover, since Guadeloupe is still in an active circulation area of virus Alexandre Rochatte said that the organization of “chanté Nwèl” (sing Christmas) which takes place from Advent to Christmas week and carnival (from January 1 to Ash Wednesday) does not seem “relevant” to him at the moment and if he were to make a decision today, he would ban these cultural festivals as some Caribbean islands have already done. In the coming days, the prefect of Guadeloupe will work with the elected representatives to take a final decision. It should be noted that in our May 31, 2020 editorial entitled What if the Prefect bans carnival in Guadeloupe, next year?, we had already mentioned such a hypothesis.

If some “carnivaliers” have already digested this probable cancellation and are working for a more magical edition in 2022 (if this coronavirus disappears from our lives), other “carnivaliers” want to be consulted because they would have proposals to make. What are they? Given the health context, there are not many of them, except the digitalization of this event.

The Virgin Islands of the United States were the only territory to have organized this form of carnival, which consisted of rebroadcasting past editions of carnival and organizing concerts on social networks last May.

But the real carnival atmosphere, that of the street which characterizes the carnival of Guadeloupe, will never be replaced by the virtual. The most appalling is that these “carnavaliers” think the possible subsidies for 2021 are due to them, even in case of cancellation…

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