Tribute to JANUKA by Mr. Desmond Clarke (Quadrille Instructor)

Tribute to JANUKA: From Mr. Desmond Clarke (Quadrille Instructor) on the occasion of our 10th Anniversary celebration.


Congratulations JANUKA on your tenth anniversary. May you continue to serve your purpose and achieve your goals indefinitely.

What you are experiencing here this evening, ladies and gentlemen, entertaining though it may be, there is much more to it than entertainment. It is an urgent call from the ancestors, telling us we must return to essential ethical values.

It is also one short step on a very long journey. I have been travelling this journey; searching desperately for my true self, when I stumbled into quadrille dance; and what a revealing experience it has been.

Quadrille dancing has revealed to me that in order to know my real self, I must get to know the people that I am descended from; what qualities they possessed; and what values they adhered to. I know that I am the proud descendant of African slaves; but how much do I know about the people who are referred to as African slaves? Not enough!

One can be forgiven for thinking that these slaves must be some wild under developed, uncivilised savages. This is why millions of them could be rounded up and shipped off to distant lands to be subjected to the most horrible treatment that any man, animal or insects have ever been subjected to. Quadrille, and history, tells me a different story.

Through quadrille I have learned that my ancestors have demonstrated quite convincingly, that there is a part of them that cannot be seen or touched; and that part is many times more powerful than the physical.

Many of what you have experienced here tonight might appear to be simple. They are not! They are instruments that were carefully crafted, practiced and preserved for ensuing generations to use and preserve. These instruments enable us to explore the depth of our inner reach; evoke our creative forces; and develop a greater sense of purpose.
They are the building blocks of vibrant and harmonious communities. Of course enslavers in their quest to control our minds during and after slavery, find it necessary to obliterate these instruments. They continually portrayed them in such negative manner that some descendants of slave think of these instruments as degrading.

However, I strongly believe that even during a raging storm, someone in that great somewhere will hear every word of a small prayer; and send one to lead the way. On this occasion the answer to that small prayer came in the form of Beverley Bogle.

She established JANUKA; and together they proceed to give back respectability to these instruments; they have used them to show the way back to proper values – our ancestor’s values.

Most importantly, they are continuing the restorative process that was established by our ancestors over 200 years ago. They have been doing so consistently for the past ten years; long may they continue!

I have been asked on numerous occasions: Why do we continue to practice the enslaver’s dance in these modern days when we should be moving on? Well move on we must; but you don’t demolish a well-built structure to improve a building. Most importantly, I cannot think of a better way to express our gratitude to our enslaved ancestors for showing us that they were cast to the utmost depth of a pit, with absolutely no chance of getting out; yet, they never give up!

Quadrille is that proverbial straw that they cling to, and it got them out of slavery.

JANUKA is known mainly for their quadrille dancing. Tonight they will demonstrate their versatility by delivering a display of other dances that came straight from the thought process of our ancestors.

During this process they have made two very important points: One – Africans did not dance quadrille because they had no dance of their own; they done so because they were forbidden to practice their own dances; or as the old folks would put it: “It is not wants of tongue why cows don’t talk”.
The second point that they made is: Africans did not need an external source to make them aware of the existence of a supreme being. They are in a place where the manifestation of a supreme being is most immanent.

Another important, lesson that quadrille revealed is: While slaves were dancing they were taking the mickey, ridiculing the enslavers. This raised the question: What manner of people could find it within themselves to ridicule the people who were subjecting them to such horrible inhuman treatment? They are without doubt extra-ordinary people.
They knew who they were; and while they did not have much control over what slavery was doing to their physical selves; it cannot touch their non-physical selves. This knowledge gave them confidence.

This brings me to the real purpose of this evening’s event. It is a reminder that before, during and after slavery; these people referred to as slaves were first and foremost human beings. Slavery has tried extremely hard to destroy their “humanness”; they would not allow slavery to defile their “beingness”. This is why they came out of slavery bearing no grudge, or harbouring bitterness, and was able to begin the restoration process without delay.

We, the descendants of slaves, are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that our “human-beingness” is improved and preserved indefinitely. Thank you for listening!

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