Independence Celebrations - Dominica
The National Flag of Dominica
Six Weeks of Celebration
Dominica is a blessed land; rich in culture and traditions and above all wonderful, hospitable people. Dominica’s Independence Celebrations spanning a period of about six weeks is one of the grandest such events in the region and perhaps in the world. It is a celebration of our cultural heritage; an occasion for fostering brotherhood, togetherness and patriotism and a time for recommitment to national development on the part of citizens. The season of Independence is a favourite time of year for many.
Celebration of Culture and Tradition
During the six weeks period of celebration, there is a wide range of heritage events, exhibitions and festivals displaying all aspects of Dominican culture covering the creole language, creole cuisine, traditional dress, traditional art and craft, traditional music and dance and Dominica’s history among other things. It is a time when Dominica explodes into life, sound, colour and spirited activity. There are key events on the Independence Calendar of Activities which are celebrated on a national level in addition to the smaller community events.
Prime Minister Skerrit and Partner Performing at Cultural Gala
Section of Parade of Uniformed Groups
Some Key National Events
The program begins with the National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving where religious organizations are expected to lead their congregations in prayer and thanksgiving ahead of the celebration. It ends with the National Day of Community Service where all Dominicans are called to join their fellow citizens in volunteer activity to undertake projects for the development of their communities. Independence Day itself is celebrated on November 3 with the grand Parade of Uniformed Groups; a much anticipated spectacle; the National Award Ceremony where individuals are honoured for outstanding achievements in various fields and the Cultural Gala, a grand extravaganza featuring the best cultural groups in the country.
Some key events on the Independence Calender of Activities include:
- National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving
- Opening Ceremony for Independence
- Heritage Day
- District Cultural Competitions
- Miss Wob Dwiyet Pageant
- Independence School Athletics Competition
- Market Day With a Difference
- National Youth Rally
- National Day Parade of Uniformed Groups
- National Cultural Gala
- National Day of Community Service
World Creole Music Festival
Creole Music From Around the World
Perhaps the most popular events on the Independence calendar of activities today are the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) and its fringe event, Creole in the Park. The WCMF is a three-night musical extravaganza; Friday to Sunday - usually described as “three nights of pulsating rhythm” - featuring creole bands from all over the world and likewise, attracting massive patronage from the region and beyond. It is, without a doubt, one of the events which have, so to speak, put Dominica on the map. Its sister event, Creole in the Park is a daytime event which caters to the daytime needs of the thousands of visitors who come in for the WCMF as well as the local population. It offers a grand display of creole music, cuisine and art and craft in the sublime environment of the Botanical Gardens. The four-day event leading up to the WCMF weekend draws massive crowds.
Display of Creole Food on Jounen Kweyol
The last Friday in October has been designated Creole Day/Jounen Kweyol; a special day set aside for celebration of our creole heritage; in particular, language, food and dress. It is a sort of work day with a holiday spirit. The national radio station, DBS leads the way with its creole programming. Offices and organizations which are, of course, already decorated for the season, allow employees to come in dressed in creole attire bringing creole food and drink to have their own in-house celebrations, speaking the creole language (quite often variations of creole mixed with non- standard English). Schools have special creole programs and it is usually a fun day for students and staff alike. Even hospitals celebrate Jounen Kweyol by treating patients with creole meals and conversing with them in creole. The streets are ablaze with the lively colours of citizens and visitors sporting the national wear and music vibrates from every corner.
Miss Wob Dwiyet Contestants in National Dress
A series of district cultural shows also forms part of the Independence program and these are highly anticipated community events with participation from all sectors of society. There are adult groups as well as youth and children's groups. The elders are committed to passing on the cultural heritage to the younger generation who are in turn, more than willing to embrace it. This is a clear indication that our culture will be preserved for coming generations. Some elements of the cultural shows include:
- Conte (story telling in Creole)
- Cocoy Tory (story telling in a variety of English specific to the North East communities)
- Traditional dance - Bele, Mazouk, Quadrille, Heel and Toe, Flirtation
- Creative Dance
- Traditional music and drumming
- Creole Song
SJA Children Keeping Culture Alive
The Young Generation Picking up the Spirit of Culture
Preservation of the Cultural Heritage
One need not fear for the survival of culture in Dominica for at Independence time, Dominicans prove to the world that we are proud of our culture. In fact, integral to the whole celebration of Independence in Dominica, is the promotion and preservation of culture. We have a unique, vibrant culture and despite the economic challenges faced the world over, Dominicans look forward to the opportunity at Independence time, to participate in the diverse cultural activities which are taking place in communities across the country.
Miss Wob Dwiyet USA Pageant Contestants - 2013
Independence Among the Diaspora Communities
Dominicans in the diaspora return home in large numbers during this season and those who are unable to return home for the celebrations continue to demonstrate their patriotism by organizing their own cultural activities to coincide with Independence Celebrations at home. There are Dominica groups and organizations, especially university and college groups in countries all over the world. A true Dominican celebrates Dominica in whatever part of the world he finds himself.
37th Anniversary Celebrations in Boston
Students at National Youth Rally
Traditional Music - Jing Ping Band
A Display at Market Day With a Difference
A Season That Touches Everyone
Indeed, the Independence season is a time when Dominica is resplendent with the vivid colours of the various versions of traditional wear; a trend which is steadily picking up as the preferred attire for the season rather than the original traditional dress which has become somewhat costly and which is reserved mainly for special or formal occasions. It is a time when the entire country is pulsating with the sound of traditional music on radio and television stations and home sound systems. It is also the time when local cuisine is at its finest and homes and restaurants emit mouth-watering aromas from tasty local dishes to the delight of locals and visitors alike. The wonderful thing about Independence is that it touches everyone; rich and poor, men and women, adults and children. Thus, the spirit of Independence throbs throughout the length and breadth of the island as people prepare for the various activities in which they will be participating or as they follow activities from past years on the radio and television.
This year 2015, in the post Tropical Storm Erika period, the celebrations are somewhat low- keyed as several activities had to be cancelled as a result of damage suffered by cultural groups, farmers and of course, the road networks. In spite of this temporary setback, Dominica’s Independence celebrations will continue to stand out as one of the best in the world.
- Reunion Celebrations in Dominica
While reunions are occasions for celebration and togetherness by a people, they are also excellent opportunities for initiating development on the national or village/community level.