A bonfire under the night’s sky with people gathered listening to old time stories is how the Calder Neighbourhood Watch Association kicked off their 2022 Nine Mornings celebrations.
The tradition, all but dead here, attracted a fair sized crowd on Sunday night, a gathering that can serve to encourage persons who are trying to keep traditions alive, and help them believe that all is not lost.
Several stories were told, among them, a tale of a Baptist minister who was a strong drinker but decided to stop drinking after his drunken stupor caused him to hallucinate.
The storyteller, who claimed the story was true, said the minister mistook a motorcycle’s blinking indicator light for a wink from the devil, and the vehicle’s owner’s words asking if he was “tight” as the devil speaking to him.
Another story was of an English plantation owner competing against an East Indian farmer in a “lying contest”, with an English Pound Sterling placed against a meal made with curry, up for grabs.
The contest was won by the East Indian after the English man said he could see an ant walking on the table of a boat out at sea and the East Indian retorting “yes”, but he could not only see the ant, he could hear its footsteps.
Retired primary school head teacher, Pearline Marks one of the members of the organizing group, said they are attempting to bring young people together in a positive setting.
She said they are hoping that the storytelling by bonfire catches on, and they will try to have the event on moonlit nights, not only during Nine Mornings activities.
“We want to do ring games, Anansi stories, bring back the old time things because what we find, most children, they live on their phones, tablets, devices, so we want to see if we can give them an awakening,” Marks said.
She noted that this is the third year they are having Nine Mornings activities as COVID-19 stopped the celebrations for a while. Marks is appealing to persons to join the neighbourhood watch group as they need additional members to help with the various activities and initiatives in which they are involved.
Apart from trying to keep certain aspects of local culture alive, Marks said the group hosts gift giving and concerts for children, provides food baskets for the elderly and engage in other activities to keep children in the neighbourhood occupied.
“The next event we are going to have for the neighbourhood watch is re-election and we are hoping that the people turn out so that we can have a full executive so we can do a little bit more,” Marks explained.
Chair of the National Nine Mornings Committee, Orande Bomani Charles and Deputy Chair, Lennox Bowman were both present at Sunday’s event.
Charles said he was delighted at the event as it offered a unique experience.
He said each community taking part in Nine Mornings activities has something that makes them different, and Calder’s storytelling around the bonfire attracted young people who can eventually pass on the tradition.
Bowman too was impressed, and added that Calder is different in their activities as they do their programme at nights and not in the wee hours of the morning.
He said the committee is encouraging the storytelling around bonfires and ring games so that storytelling as an art form and cultural event can progress.
Andrea Celestine one of the storytellers described the event as “novel” and “unique” and said she thinks it should be continued.
“It is a way of enlightening the younger ones of what we older folks use to go through and what we use to experience and what was fun for us,” she said, adding that what is fun for children these days is getting an electronic device and using it for lengthy periods.
“We had none at that time, but we used to have fun with our old time jumbie stories and Anansi stories and songs,” Celestine said while adding that she learnt stories from her aunt who is now deceased.