Nine Mornings festival grounded in our past
As I extend Seasons Greetings to our readers, the Vincentian community here and abroad, and indeed the global community, permit me to spare some thoughts and words, in condolences to the family of our dear brother Maxwell Haywood, an employee of our diplomatic community, whose funeral service took place in New York last Friday.
The breadth and depth of the tributes to this outstanding Vincentian spoke volumes of his unselfish contribution to our country in many different fields. I can only humbly associate myself with those tributes and offer my solidarity to the bereaved family.
Permit me also to publicly extend advance birthday greetings to a dear friend, brother and relative of mine, Sibert âDoveâ Liverpool, all six-foot plus of his wiry frame. He will celebrate a very special anniversary next week, insisting on keeping ahead of me in the age game. We have, as the older folk would say, âwintered and summered togetherâ, enjoying the good and enduring the not-so-good, for close on seven decades now.
NINE MORNINGS NOSTALGIA
Mention of Dove brings me back to memories of the âNine Morningsâ of our experiences. I feel happy to note that we have been able to keep this tradition and, in particular, to extend it far beyond its old Kingstown base to encompass many rural communities and to situate it in the context of our times. We must keep working on how best to keep our roots, whilst adapting to the demands of the modern times. âNine Morningsâ is not only an important cultural festival for us, it can provide a solid foundation for economic development. We must take every advantage of the tremendous potential of this festival.
One associated aspect of the Vincy Christmas which has expanded rapidly is the âlighting-upâ phenomenon, the decoration of homes and entire communities with Christmas lights. While it was not a significant feature of the old days, given the financial limitations, there was certainly some evidence of its attractions during the old âNine Morningsâ. In Kingstown, the War Memorial square surrounding the âIron Manâ was central to the pre-Christmas activities. Bike riders used to decorate their bikes with lights, as they rode around the square and even those on roller skates would later do the same. So, there was some precedent for our âlighting-upâ.
As many of my generation have pointed out before, the old âNine Morningsâ was characterized by a wide variety of activities â walks, fun and games and going to the beach. In those days there was no deep water harbour in the capital, so sea bathers had choices in at least three sections of the Kingstown harbour, lovely black sand beaches. There was also the bakery experience, hot bread and cakes being available for literally a few cents. How we looked forward to that!
As a teenager, there was the âNine Morningsâ fetes to savour. I was too young to partake in the fetes at Club de Vincent with the older ones of the legendary McIntosh family in the musical leadership, but certainly had my fill from Syl McIntosh and Blue Rhythm onwards. The âMaestroâ, Frankie McIntosh, was a school mate of mine and up to today, my head still rings with the rhythms of his piano notes that he had practised on the desks as we sat in the back row in school. We were royally treated to Frankie, the Symphonettes, Latinaires, Volume 5 and a range of combos, starting with the Richards Brothers of Murray Village/Rockies, all for the princely entrance fee of 25 cents, not easy to get in those days, mind you.
And, it was literally, âthe fete canât done,â for after the fete, we took to the streets and the sweet melody of the pan, with a host of the early pan pioneers, whether âBig Bullâ or âKibbaâ, Woodley or Cardo, leading a couple laps on the road, before it was time to scamper off and get ready for work. What precious memories!
So, our âNine Morningsâ is well rooted and a solid basis for expansion to suit the times. The present outdoor activities owe a lot to pioneers like Robert âPatchesâ Knights, âBassyâ Alexander and Randy âDâ Dopwell. Let us build on these, never forgetting our roots or neglecting to thank those who paved the way.
SEASONS GREETINGS TO ALL!
Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.