Archive for chante nwel

Chanté Nwèl 2013, Save the date!

Posted in Workshop, Ziloka News with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2013 by ziloka

chanté nwel

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to announce that our 2013 Chanté Nwèl will take place on the 14th of December at the Islands Arts Studio in Herne Hill! After the success of last year edition, Zil’oKA and BSB Angels have decided to join forces again so we can all enjoy a Christmas party that will make us feel at home!

On the night you will be able to grab a planteur whilst enjoying some traditional patties or cakes, right before singing the Christmas Carols!
As the event is co-organized by Zil’oKA, there will of course be some drums, dancing and kids activities involved.

Islands Art Studio
278 Milkwood Road
SE24 0EZ

Please see the program we put together for you below

– 4.30-5pm: Welcome

– 5-6.15pm: Kids Storytelling

– 6.30-7.30pm: GwoKa Dance Workshop £6 – You can book your ticket in advance as spaces will be limited! Just click here

– 7.45-8.45pm: Chanté Nwel part 1

– 9-9.30pm: Raffle

– 9.45-10.45pm: Chanté Nwel part 2

– 11-.11.45pm: Kout Tanbou! Gwoka Singing & Dancing to end the night in style!

– 12pm: End of the event.

Hope to see you all there!



8th of December Chanté Nwèl Venue Update

Posted in French West Indian Culture, Ziloka News with tags , , , , on December 6, 2012 by ziloka

Chanté nwèl_new

Hello Beautiful celebrating people!

Fear not, BsB and Zil’Oka are still hosting a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Chanté Nwèl this Saturday 8th of December with traditional Caribbean Christmas delicacies*!
However we have had to unexpectedly change the venue (the joys of event organisation).

So please note that the Chanté Nwèl will take place at:
Island art Studio 290 Milkwood Road, London, Greater London SE24 0E.
Closest station Herne Hill or Brixton
Buses: 3, 196, 37, 68, 201, 322, 468

The programme is still spicy and juicy. Just note that we will now start at 5pm so you have ample time to get there!

5h00-6h15: Children Activities: storytelling, games and initiation to Gwoka percussions.
6: 15-6h30: Secret Santa gift presentation**
6h30-7h30: Gwoka dance workshop £5
7:30-8:30: Chanté Nwèl PART 1
8h30-9h00: Raffle (do get your tickets!!)
9h00 10h15: Chanté Nwèl PART 2
10h15-11h00: mini party

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this last minute change of venue. Do spread the word so we can all have fun together!

*Characteristic Caribbean Christmas treats will be available to purchase.
**Parents are advised to bring a small gift to be exchanged at the secret Santa gift presentation

The Chanté Nwel Tradition in the French Speaking Caribbean: the Spirit of Togetherness

Posted in French West Indian Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by ziloka

If for many of us in the UK, Christmas is synonymous with a roasted turkey and all its trimmings, public transport disruptions, presents and overdrafts, in the French speaking Caribbean, Christmas is decidedly the celebration of life.

I say celebration of life because if one goes back at the beginning of the 20th century (I am not an historian, I can only tell you what my grand-mother told me), Christmas was not about presents but about the pleasure of being together as family, as a community. Indeed, a majority of the Martiniquan population at that time came from very modest and rural milieu. Very often, one did not have the means to buy presents for children. What was generally longed for and expected, was the Chanté Nwel.

From the 1900’s to the 1960’s (roughly), the Chanté Nwel, particularly in the rural areas, consisted in groups of revellers with music instruments such as drums, chacha, ti-bwa and even accordions. These musicians would go from house to house, in a similar fashion with the Jamaican Burru players (Reckord, 1998, 234), singing French Christmas Carols arranged in a Caribbean style. They were experts of the tradition as they knew what song were suitable for l’avent, period covering a few weeks before Christmas, and what ought to be sung on Christmas day. For instance, my grand-mother always told me that the song Minuit Chrétiens had to be sung at midnight on Christmas day.

If a family desired to keep the musicians in their house for the night or for a while, they would give them rum, Christmas fruit liquors and Christmas delicacies such as paté cochon (pork patties), sorrel syrup or ham. When all these offering were consumed, the revellers would go to another hospitable house. These families did not have much, but they really strived to prepare food and drink for everyone to share. One usually took great pride to have been able to host a Chanté Nwel. These festivities would go on for the entire night, strengthening the connections between the family and the community.

With the urbanisation of Martinique, this form of Chanté Nwel has disappeared. I believe that the tradition would have totally died out if it had not been for elders such as Mano Loutoby and Loulou Boislaville. In the 1980’s, the young journalist Mano Loutoby experienced a Christmas Parang in Trinidad. Parang is the Trinidadian Christmas tradition product of the Amerindian, African and Venezuelian influences of Trinidad. In the small community of Paramin, the “house to house” parang format was still practiced, impacting greatly on Mano. Back in Martinique, he endeavoured to revive the Chanté Nwel tradition. He came up with the Mano Noël concept which could be regarded as a Christmas caravan. Mano, with his friend Loulou boislaville (notorious talented musician, beacon of the traditional music) would go from village to village attracting throngs of people. The villagers would come with their cantiques (carol book) and sing along with the band. The leader would shout beforehand the page on which the song was to be found keeping everyone on board. The ritournelles (saucy chorus added to the religious songs, usually commenting on local gossips) , the rum and Christmas delicacies were not forgotten, creating a convivial and informal atmosphere.

Mano Noel caravan have unfortunately stopped, but the tradition has not died as groups such as Mazincoin, Ravine Plate, Cantique des Mornes have taken up the tradition. If their compositions are arguably mostly profane and commercial, the spirit of togetherness is preserved as French Caribbeans still gather, wherever they are, with their cantiques to celebrate the Nativity.

Enjoy this Chanté Nwel 2011!

By Nathalie Montlouis

Work cited:
Reckord,V. (1998). From Burru Drums to Reggae Ridims. In N.S., Murrel, A. M., Wiliam.D., Spencer (EDs). Chanting Down Babylon. (231-253). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Learn more about Mano Noel on the website :

Nwèl o Ka with Ziloka

Posted in Ziloka News with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2010 by ziloka

Dear All

Come and join us to share a good time this Sunday the 12th of December 2010:
there will be some singing, eating and dancing Nwel and we will finish it all with a Gwo Lewoz.
It will take place
at the Royal Star, 220 City Rd, EC1V 2PN Old street Station, Exit Number 8
from 12:00 noon till 18:00.

Please arrive with food to share.
Text 07828 151378 or email to let us know if you bring something sweet or salty.
Drinks will be available for purchase at the bar.

It would be best if you could be there as early as possible as we only have the room until 18:00.

If you have the Christmas song words, please bring them along with you.Thanks

Spread the word and see you there!

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