Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part I of two part series on Carriacou Big Drum songs and dances. This post showcases the Cromanti Cudjoe (Beg Pardon) song and dance. This post also provides information about Carriacou and its Big Drum tradition with particular emphasis on the Cromanti Cudjoe drum song and dance tradition.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/09/temne-and-ibo-igbo-nation-dances-songs.html for Part II of this series. Part II showcases videos of the Temne and Ibo (Igbo) nations (ethnic groups) Big Drum Song & Dances. That post will be published ASAP.
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Thanks to all the ancestors who are honored by these ritual drum calls and dances. Thanks also to all those featured in these videos, thanks to the publishers of those videos on YouTube and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
INFORMATION ABOUT CARRIACOU AND THE BIG DRUM DANCES
"Carriacou is an island of the Grenadine Islands located in the Southeastern Caribbean Sea, Northeast of Grenada...
It's the largest in the Grenadines and in the Grenada Grenadines. It is the 3rd largest island in the Grenadine Islands (Vincentian and Grenadian Grenadines)...
It's part of the Carriacou and Petite Martinique Constituency and also Carriacou is a dependency of Grenada...
The inhabitants of Carriacou perform the "Big Drum" or "Nation" dance which celebrates their West African ancestors that were brought to the island during slavery. These Big Drum dances are usually performed at "Maroons" village festivals or fetes, where food and drink are prepared. They can also be danced at wakes and tombstone feasts in honor of dead relatives. The Quadrille dance is also performed on the island of Carriacou during festivals and historic events."...
"The Big Drum or Nation Dance (also at one time called called Gwa Tambu) is a traditional religious and social ritual that has been sustained on Carriacou, Grenada since the slave era and the early importation of Cromanti people. It teaches history and reinforces knowledge, family lineage, and tradition in our time.
The Big Drum ritual survives as a community event hosted by any family that wishes to celebrate or toast good luck in the dedication of a new house, the launching of a new boat, a wedding, a memorial or any event that improves the social status of the host family. With food, rum, ritual behavior, the Big Drum performance holds religious and social meaning in the songs, drumming, and dances."
A longer excerpt of that article is included in Part II. Included in that excerpt is a list of the nine African nations (ethnic groups) that are part of Carricacou's Big Drum rituals.
THE EYTMOLOGY OF THE NAME "CROMANTI CUDJOE"
"Coromantee (derived from the name of the Ghanaian coastal town "Kormantse"), also called Coromantins, Coromanti or Kormantine was the English name given to Akan slaves from the Gold Coast or modern-day Ghana. The term Coromantee is now considered archaic as it simply refers to Akan people, and was primarily used in the Caribbean. Coromantins actually came from several Akan ethnic groups – Ashanti, Fanti, Akyem, etc. – presumably taken as war captives.
Owing to their militaristic background and common Akan language, Coromantins organized dozens of slave rebellions in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Their fierce, rebellious nature became so notorious among white plantation owners in the 18th century that an Act was proposed to ban the importation of people from the Gold Coast despite their reputation as strong workers. The Akans had the single largest African cultural influence on Jamaica, including Jamaican Maroons whose culture and language was seen as a derivation of Akan. Names of some notable Coromantee leaders such as Cudjoe, Quamin, Cuffy, and Quamina correspond to Akan day names Kojo, Kwame, Kofi, and Kwamina, respectively."...
This excerpt was reformatted for this post for increased reading clarity.
"Cudjoe, or Captain Cudjoe (c. 1680 – 1744), sometimes spelled Cudjo - corresponding to the Akan day name Kojo or Kwadwo - was a Maroon leader in Jamaica, and the brother of Nanny of the Maroons. He has been described as "the greatest of the Maroon leaders."
The Jamaican Maroons are descended from runaway slaves who established free communities in the mountains of Jamaica during the long era of slavery in the island. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways, apparently mixing with the Native American Taino or Arawak people that remained in the country. Some may have gained liberty when the English attacked Jamaica and took it in 1655, and subsequently. For about 52 years, until the 1737 peace treaty with the British rulers of the island - which is still in force - the Maroons stubbornly resisted conquest.
Cudjoe is believed (according to Maroon oral tradition) to have been the son of Naquan, a chief of the Akan people or Coromantee people from what is modern-day Ghana. Naquan was taken captive and sold into slavery in Spanish Jamaica in the 1640s but he initiated a revolt and led his tribesmen into the mountainous interior of the island, establishing the first community of Maroons, as the runaway slaves were called, after the Spanish word cimarron, meaning "wild".
The two main Maroon groups in the 18th century were the Leeward and the Windward tribes, the former led by Cudjoe in Trelawny Town and the latter led by his sister Queen Nanny (and later by Quao). Captain Cudjoe had endless energy and was greatly motivated to stay a free man. He was strong, courageous and relentless. Cudjoe was also a very skilful, tactical field commander and a remarkable leader"...
Cudjoe Day is celebrated in Jamaica on the first Monday in January...
"Kromanti is one of three languages of Jamaica. It is related to the Akan language group, especially Fante, Asante, and broader Twi family. The lexicon is based on archaic English forms. Kromanti is similiar to the creole languages of Suriname. It is spoken by the Eastern Maroons of Moore Town, in Eastern Jamaica. Maroons were run-away slaves who formed independent communities, after the 17th century. The Maroons kept the language thriving until it began to diminish in the early 20th century, spoken only by the elderly population...
The language is under threat of vanishing because of the secretive nature of Maroon society. The young is slowly losing knowledge of the tongue. The language is mainly used in special ceremonies called Kromanti Play, which invokes the ancestor spirits and addresses the ancestors.
Many Kromanti leaders had names originating from Akan culture Cudjoe, Qauo, Cuffee , Quashie, and Queen Nanny-- Cudjoe refer to Kojo meaning a son born on Monday; Qauo refers to Kwau meaning a son born on Thursday, Cuffee refers to Kofi, a son born on Friday. Queen Nanny comes from the title nana given to chiefs."
Example #1: Anansi-O Sari Baba (Kromanti beg-pardon song)
Cultural Equity Published on Jul 24, 2013
Winston Fleary: "This is an Akan song for transubstantiation and communion, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection. Anancy is the God of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, king of gods, the Creator. He feeds you with the food of the Gods. The throwing of rice is to beg for the continuous regeneration of children in the family. The other old lady throws sweet water to beg for harmonious living among the family. The rum is thrown 'spirit to spirit.' Water salutes life created from water." In Hausa "Tsari Baba" means the father's pardon, the ultimate protection. (From L. McDaniel, The Big Drum Ritual of Carriacou, University of Florida Press, 1998.)
Boula, James "Laka" Moses; kòt drum, Winston Fleary; foule, David Gibbs
Chantwèl: Winston Fleary
Dancing in a line that becomes a circle (=unity):
Anthony "Sugar Patch" Douglas pours water in the ring
Mrs. Duncan Lang (Lucian's cousin) pours rum in the ring
Suzanne Duncan throws rice in the ring
Another of Lucian's granddaughters in pink pants throws corn
Bontin Scott sprinkles water
Denise Scott follows
When this is done, the dances turn each other, two by two
Anansi o, e
Anansi o sari baba
Anansi o, e
Anansi o sari baba
This would continue:
Fennwa kontre, Nenen
Si mwennn merit, Nenen
Si mwennn merit
Tine tine mwennn
If I have done anything wrong, Godmother
We beg your pardon
If I deserve it, Godmother
I'm sorry, sorry
Director/camera: John Melville Bishop; Sound/camera: John Horace Terry; Line producer: Naomi Hawes Bishop; Cultural liaisons: Geoffrey Clarfield, Mireille Charles; Producer: Anna Lomax Wood; Executive Producer, Kimberly Green; Transcriptions: Ronald Kephart; Comments and translations: Winston Fleary.
Friends from Carriacou! Please add to the experience by sharing your knowledge and leaving a comment. Corrections? Send us an e-mail through the channel.
Extraplating from these notes about this Big Drum song, the term "Anansi-O Sari Baba" comes from two different West African cultures: "Anansi" from the Akan [Ghana/Ivory Coast] and "O Sari Baba" from the Hausa [Nigeria].
"Anansi" is best known in the Caribbean as a wily, triskster spider/man. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anansi
"Anansi (/əˈnɑːnsi/ ə-NAHN-see) [is] the trickster is a West African god. He often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the god of all knowledge of stories. He is also one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore.
He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy. He is a spider, but often acts and appears as a man.
The Anansi tales are believed to have originated in the Ashanti people in Ghana. (The word Anansi is Akan and means, simply, spider.) They later spread to other Akan groups and then to the West Indies, Suriname, and the Netherlands Antilles. On Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire he is known as Nanzi, and his wife as Shi Maria."
A "chantwell" is the leader of group chanting because he or she "chants well" (very good).
In American English "I beg your pardon" is usually only used when asking someone to excuse them for some small offense such as accidentally stepping on that person's toes. However, I think that in the context of this Big Drum song "beg pardon" means asking for forgiveness for bigger things. In that sense, "beg pardon" is like Christians asking God for forgiveness and mercy.
Example #2: Kromanti Cudjoe (Invocation to awaken the Ancestors)
Cultural Equity Published on Jul 29, 2013
A salute to Kromanti Cudjoe, the Maroon drummer who is considered the great ancestral drummer, and father of the Big Drum Nation Dance celebrations that brought all the nations together.
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