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My Arab connection

My Arab connection

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From de time my grand-daughter, Zinzi told me dat she and Chady getting married, and dat Toya De Roche-John is her Wedding Planner, ah started to gear-up foh ah grand time! Toya did de plan for her own wedding and it was super! But de wedding last Sat-dey was great, ah didn’t gear-up foh nothing. Dem Arabs love ah Fete and dey know how to Fete! Ley me explain, my grand-daughter is now married to ah Vincentian-born-Lebanese.{{more}} Locally we refer to dem all as Syrian, even though de late Fred J Dare, de pioneer of dem all, de first Lebanese to arrive here in 1935, de year ah de Riot! He adopted dis land as his home and was not deterred by de Riot, and operated his Boutique in de Pelican Hotel, de original Blue Caribbean Hotel, on Bay St.

De first time ah realized dat my grand-daughter, Zinzi was changing her “stockings foh boys,” was when ah saw her standing next to ah lickle youth-man, de same Chady in one of her GHS Graduation photos. From de shy and aint-no-saint look on both ah dem face, ah knew dat was ah Lime. Zinzi and I have ah great bond, so ah made it me business to give her my ver-shun ah de “Bird-N-D-Bees.” From de time ah told her dat picking de right Boy is like shopping foh ah pair ah all-purpose shoes. She smile and said to me: “OK Pappa, don’t worry, mommy told me dat same story already, she said yuh told it to her when she was young.” Den ah asked her: “Did yuh mother tell yuh dat dis one pair ah shoe is ah life-time wear?” She didn’t allow me to finish, she butted in: “And I have to wear this shoe to Church, School, Dance and most of all I must feel and look comfortable wearing it.”

Less dan ah month after ah saw her wid ah nice gold chain around her neck, de gold pendant was so very fine, ah could ah hardly recognize dat it was ah shoe. Ah den asked her way she got dat missing one foot Cinderella shoe. She is never disrespectful eh, she explained it was ah friend who gave her it, ah young man whose Dad owned ah “Syrian Store!” Dat was about ten years ago, and is like it took de young man, Chady Sassin all dat time, searching thru-out de USA, de Middle East all over, before he finally found de other shoe to match de pendant, and last Last Sat-dey, dey both walked down de aisle in de Cat-lick church.

De forever “down to earth,” Fr Mark Da Silva officiated, and if yuh know him well, he doesn’t hold back de punches. Ah nice short ceremony! And den it was Wedding Party time, de Middle East joins de West in ah marriage of Peace and Love! Two nations but one Race, de Human Race! De Food was just excellent, West Indian and Arab dishes, Elsa Francis did ah good job. De party was like carnival in Beer-root, de capital of Lebanon. Mr D J played Skinny’s 2014 Soca tune: “Show me yuh Wuss Behave-yah” ah lot. Den he played music from de Middle East, sounding nearly like de Indian Chutney Soca, I call it “Beer-root Soca!” And dat was when East meet West in de Middle.

Ah wedding is ah big occasion foh dem Mid-easterners, is ah treasured cultural event foh dem, so dey brought dey Drums, much like our bum drum played wid sticks. And dey party till four-day-morning. De played drums to their music as well as our music, ah great fusion. Tony Neema ah young Arab businessman hey, married to Shanelle, ah Bequian took on de crowd wid his Arabic folk singing. And de crowd led by de other Tony “No Problem” Sassin who was in “high spirits” sang along wid him. Just when ah thought it was over, dey hoisted de bride and groom on dey shoulders and dance dem around.

Ah give dem Arab people full marks. Dey very proud ah dey culture and practices. Dey does wuk hard, dey open dey stores early at mornings and last to close at evenings. Dey don’t speak de English well, but yuh can’t count money fast like dem. Dey social-lies among dem-selves, and when is time to party, like dey does loosen up go wild! Ah overs dat dey are not widout dey differences, but when it matters, dey could come to-get-her and support dey compatriots. Sadly we in SVG are losing it all, we neglecting our culture thru Divisive polly-ticks, we see everything in two Colours: “Red and Yellow!” All ah dat is about to change.

I pray God’s blessing on Zinzi and Chady, my grand-son-in-law, and dat de family business on Back street will spread right down to Rose Place! Dat trouble maker, Lie-Za was asking me what ah looking forward to mostly, from dis unique mixture of Leban-ease and Vincent-shun blood, ah tell she ah can’t wait to see my Tali-cent-shun great-grand-son! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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