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Ethnic & Cultural Groups: Grenada


Today, I’ll be highlighting the people of Grenada, a country in the Carribbean. The people of Grenada have a culture influenced mostly by the African cultures of their ancestors, as well as French culture that can be seen in some of the cultural practices. Most importantly, the people of Grenada have maintained the tribal knowledge of their African ancestors. Many Grenadians are aware of the tribe in which they’ve come from and they’ve managed to maintain the dance styles and other customs. The Ghanaian, Akan and Fante; and the Nigerian, Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups make up the majority of the population of the people of Grenada, as evidenced by their names and cultural styles.

An important Grenadian tradition is the act of story telling, with folk tales sharing both African and French influences. “These stories are similar to fairy tales and have both oral and written traditions. They often are shared in groups, with the storyteller beginning “Crick”, and the audience replying “Crack”.“

Grenadians are well known for their art. What sets Grenadians art apart is the canvases used for their paintings. Cloth, bamboo, calabash, cutlass, wood, metal, and many other materials can be used by the Grenadian artist as painting surfaces. Ordinary objects beautifully painted with bright Caribbean colors are very common. Local art events often occur in St. George’s because of its accessibility and abundance of art patrons.

Grenada is known as the “Island of spice” because it is one of the largest exporters of Nutmeg and Mace crops. The festival, “Spicemas”, is the largest festival in Grenada and has the biggest impact on the Grenadian economy. The festival runs for one month between July and August.

African dances are particularly important in Grenada, as many Grenadians have been able to maintain their ethnic heritage. Each tribe has its own unique drum and dance style. These dances are often performed at Big Drum festivals. Carnival is an important time to remember song and dance, as well.

Here is a list of the Various dance styles:

1. BELE FOLK DANCE: Beautiful, the name that describes the dance. This dance was a social dance done by women and was of French origin with a little African influence. The movements of the dance are very soft and flirtatious.

2. BONGO:The Bongo dance is a dance of strength and is done by males. This dance was dance in the village to settle disputes as well as when someone dies at the home of the deceased (Wake) to allow the passage of the spirit from one world to the next.

3. PIQUE: Fast Creole dance for couples choreographed by African movements, this dance has strong sexual movements, mainly hip and pelvic movements by both male and female dancers. Due to the sexual content of the dance the children were not allowed to see or be a part of this dance  hence the reason  the dance was done late evening.

4. KALINDA: A dance of purpose and vengeance. This dance is performed with dancing and singing. Stick fighting is the most prominent feature of the Kalinda, which is a duelling dance between two men who have issues to settle or to prove superiority among themselves. The stick fight takes place in a circle formed by villagers; the movements of the dance are very strong and can be very bloody in the end. The dance is done to drum music with singing and chanting. Before this dance take place the fighter will be notified by someone to send to him.

5. CHAMBA/ TENME: Are part of the Nation Dances in Grenada. Chamba  dance is similar to the Pique dance and is also a couples dance. The Temne is done alone; both dances do not have much movement and are done by singing and drumming.

6. BIG DRUM NATION DANCE: A significant feature of the Carriacou Folk Culture is the extent to which the African connection has been preserved. The African Nation Dance popularly known as the Big Drum, having emerged from the melting pot of African influences, is predominant. The drums are called Big Drum because of the melting pot that took place across the Atlantic in the seventeenth century when the Caribbean became a transplanted race The Africans were found to have the largest drums in existence at the time.
The dance is a social dance and is done at pre-wedding ceremonies. A maroon or tombstone feast and is done outdoors.

7.QUADRILLE: The Quadrille dance is of French origin and  is similar to the Lancer, this dance is characterized by sets and timed movements. This dance is a formal recreational dance and is done by a couple.

8. SHANGO: The Shango religious dance is of West African Origin from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It is a religious dance, part of the Shango Religion. This dance is done to enhance religious ritual, to invoke spirits, and also to invoke the dead. The dance is done in Red and White long sleeve garments. The dance is accompanied by drums, shac-shac (maracas), clapping, tambourines, humming and chanting. Rice, flowers, bowly, candle and a bell are also used to enhance the performance.

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