I know when the West Indian Day Parade comes around in September it’s all about representing your people. Every island is hyped to hit Eastern Parkway and wine up and turn up. True coinneseurs of the parade know your flag is required in the reveling and showing your cultural pride.
Nonetheless being able to identify the various Caribbean islands represented by flag is an acquired skill. The Labor Day parade can be a bit of geography lesson if you don’t know your flags. I’ll be the first to admit I can only identify the flags of a few countries in the Caribbean. So it goes without saying that the national flag of St. Kitts and Nevis is totally unfamiliar to me.
The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis are part of the Leeward Islands of the West Indies. And as with virtually every Caribbean country, it had its own culture that often reflects a creolization of indigenous, African and European influences. The string band sound of Saint Kitts and Nevis is no exception.
Trinidad has its calypso and soca, Haiti has its compas and rara, Puerto Rico has its salsa, the Dominican Republic has its merengue and Jamaica has its reggae and dance hall sounds. Throughout the Caribbean there are three distinctive musical styles that reflect the people and their creativity.
String Band is a combination of “bamboo fife, piping over a multiple string section of banjo, guitars, cuatro and mandolin, accompanied by loping percussion…” according to Simon Lee for Caribbean Beat. Lee explains, “The other music form indigenous to Nevis, the Big Drum, which has its origins in the seventeenth century, exhibits a similar pattern of adaptation, with the fife, bass, and snare drums adopted from European military bands, but played to distinctively African beats.”
Saint Kitts and Nevis hold their music festival this month featuring international performers, competitions and DJs featuring countless genres of music. Culturama 43! Let the legacy continue.
Peace and love good people.