An evening with Januka… by Carmen and Sheila

By popular request, JÁNUKA plans to host another evening of music, narrative and dance in September 2018, in celebration of our 12th anniversary.

This event entitled The Will to Survive Part 3 – “Independence” will be the third in a series of themed performances.

The previous two events in 2015 and 2016 were entitled The Will to Survive Part1 -“The rules and regulations of slavery” and The Will to Survive Part 2- “Emancipation from slavery” respectively.

Thanks to all Friends of JÁNUKA and well-wishers who devoted time and effort to make these events successful. Our aim to entertain, educate, empower and inspire positive awareness of our Jamaican cultural heritage was truly achieved. We look forward to your continued support for our next event in September – (date to be confirmed).

Below is a summary of what was accomplished in our 2016 event.

An Evening with JÁNUKA – 10th Anniversary Celebration

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, JÁNUKA presented a feast of Jamaican cultural music and dance on Saturday 10th September 2016. The theme of the evening was Emancipation – a celebration of the end of slavery for the peoples of the Caribbean – and was entitled “The Will to Survive – Part 2”. It was an evening of entertainment, education and celebration. A wonderful intergenerational event!

There was an air of excitement and anticipation from the packed auditorium as the audience perused their wonderfully colourful and informative souvenir programme brochure and looked at the beautiful JÁNUKA display, courtesy of Mr Mc C – a renowned photographer.

Before the programme officially began our guests were also able to enjoy the scrumptious finger buffet and drinks whilst JÁNUKA sang folksongs in the background, accompanied by guitarist Cliff.

The feeling of excitement was not limited to the audience because the performers, waiting to present what we had been practising so diligently over the months, were also full of anticipation.

The “Bruckins Party” (Emancipation celebration dance) opened the dancing with performers, stunningly dressed in their red and blue fineries, performing this historical dance! This was followed by a drama skit of freed slaves vocalising their hopes and visions for their future lives as freed people.

During 2016, dancers guided by Beverley, learnt some of the other traditional cultural dance forms and enthusiastically performed them. Dances included Kumina, Tambo, Dinki Mini and Pocomania/Revival. Various quadrille dance figures were also included – ballroom, camp style and free spirited.

Performing so many dances demanded enormous levels of effort, concentration and energy – all demonstrated by the dancers and added to the huge amount of fun we had!

Between dances we continued to sing familiar Jamaican folk songs such as Mango Time, Sammy Dead, Mattie Walla Lef, Lang Time Gal, Brown Skin Gal, Linstead Market, Island in the Sun and many more.

The printed words of the songs in the souvenir brochure programme encouraged audience participation. That participation was so enthusiastic that at times performers were almost drowned out – amazing and wonderfully uplifting experience for all!

It was clear to those on stage that many in the audience were reminiscing about their lives in the Caribbean. It was as though for a brief period people were transported back and were reliving those bygone days.

Thanks to our dynamic and excellent MC Marcia, the evening proceeded smoothly and with good humour.

Other items on the programme included a presentation of JÁNUKA‘s achievements over the 10 years, by two friends of JÁNUKA (Pauline and Gill) who have been following our progress and supporting us from inception.

There were thought provoking and excellent tributes from Mr Desmond Clarke, the initial quadrille teacher of the group, and Mr Casper James of “Culture Crossroads”.

Mr Clarke not only spoke passionately about the group, he also participated in a tribute dance with members of the original 2006 JÁNUKA group that he taught! It was wonderful to have those members returning to participate in the celebratory event.

The evening concluded with celebration drinks plus feasting and dancing for EVERYONE!

The feedback from many of the audience was that “the evening ended too soon!” People felt they had not only been exceptionally well entertained but that the knowledge of their history had been enhanced in a truly passionate manner. People left the evening feeling exhilarated and asking about the next big event!

Article by Carmen Chambers & Sheila King (JANUKA Members)

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