The World Creole Music Festival has come a long way. 19 years ago, I participated in a press journey with colleagues journalists of Guadeloupe and Martinique, organized by the shipping company called ATE, Express des Îles. The aim of this company was to present a new boat and a mini-cruise between Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante and Dominica with few passengers.
On “The Island of Hundred Mills”, (nickname of Marie-Galante, an island in the Guadeloupean archipelago), we met with the tourism industry players and visited some sites (Gueule Grand Goufre, Bézard Mill etc.). Then, we landed on “The Island of 365 Rivers ” (Dominica). In the evening, some Kalinagos, (the last Carib Indians of the West Indies who live on this island), came to the boat to present us their traditional danses. We also had a visit from the Dominican Minister of Tourism of those days who came to talk to the press about a project of musical festival, the World Creole Music Festival.
I listened carefully to him but I must admit that I had some doubts not concerning the realization of the project but as regards the sustainability of this event. I thought that this festival will disappear shortly like many similar events. I also thought that Dominica does not have a large number of singers who express themselves in Creole to justify such an organization. Of course, as everyone, I knew The Midnight Groovers, Exile One, The Grammacks, the late Jeff Joseph Gordon Henderson, Ophélia, certainly some well-known performers but their number were not viable, in my opinion, to last this event in time…
Volontary Dominican authorities
But, I saw how the Dominican authorities displayed their communication campaign to attract the Guadeloupeans and the Martinicans to this newly created festival. The music lovers responded to the invitation and very fast, the place to be during All Saints holidays was Dominica to attend these various concerts. I also met people in Guadeloupe who were not very happy that this event is organized in this period of the year, usually reserved for our deceased.
In their view, the WCMF could only accelerate the reduction of the attendance to the cemeteries for the cleaning of graves and vaults and for their illumination at nightfall on November 1st, if the young people preferred to leave for having fun in Roseau.
The Dominican authorities, given the ever-growing success of the World Creole Music Festival, never stopped their advertising campaigns on Guadeloupean soil ; moreover, every year and for 19 years, a Dominican delegation comes to present here the new edition of the festival, months in advance. But, I have the impression that the interest and the frenzy that caused the festival, in its early stages, diminished somewhat…
An important source of currency
The government of Dominica knew how to make the World Creole Music Festival an major source of currency to swell state coffers. To ensure the attendance of festivalgoers, over the years, the organization always invested in the quality of the guests to maintain the reputation of the event. All the Caribbean groups and artists were invited to express themselves in various Creole language, it also innovated by opening the stage to other languages (in particular English, Spanish) and to other regions of the world (Europe, Africa) and it diversified the rhythms (cadence-lypso, zouk, bouyon, salsa, kompas, reggae, soca, soukouss…).
As the World Creole Music Festival has almost become an important “sector” in the economy of the island because he allows, among others, the hotels, restaurant owners, taximen, farmers, fishermen, sellers to work, then we can imagine the feeling of helplessness of the population and the authorities when it was necesary to cancel this musical event after the damage caused by storm Erika in August, 2015. It is important to remember that more than thirty people were also killed during these torrential rains. The country hoped that no other meteorological phenomenon would comes to ruin again its efforts and, at the same time, its priority was the 19th edition of the Festival and, with help of its Caribbean neighbours (Venezuela, Guadeloupe, Martinique etc) and other countries like China, it was back on its feet quickly.
From October 28 to 30, several great names have to perform on the stage of the WCMF, among others : The Grand Méchant Zouk led by Kassav’ which had to be there last year ; Akon ; Kréyol la ; Michelle Henderson ; the unmistakable Dominican star, Ophelia ; Wyclef Jean ; WCK ; Dédé Saint-Prix, Morgan Heritage etc.
The atmosphere promises to be hot double to make people forget the 18th edition which did not happen.