Family Fun at Portland's Fi Wi Sinting Festival
The 23rd staging of Fi Wi Sinting, a celebration of Jamaica’s African heritage, will be held on Sunday, February 17, 2013, at Somerset Falls, Hope Bay, Portland from 10AM-8PM. Admission J$800 (about US$9.00), Children J$200 (about US $2.50) and Students with ID J$500 (about US$5.50).
The phrase "Fi Wi Sinting" means "It is ours" in Jamaican patois, and represents how Jamaicans embrace and celebrate the food, traditions and customs that followed their ancestors from Africa. Take the entire family and enjoy a fun-filled day of mingling with visitors, tourists and Jamaicans from all walks of life as you take part in the annual festival.
Where to find Fi Wi Sinting and what to do there
Beautiful Somerset Falls is the setting and you'll find it transformed into a big marketplace, featuring clothing, books, jewelry and many other crafts. There's always lots of dancing, great food and drumming throughout the day. Storytelling revolves around the cunning spider, Anance, also known as Anansi, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy. Anansi tales are believed to have originated with the Ashanti people of Ghana, in West Africa. Anancy tales are a prominent and familiar part of Jamaican culture.
Food treats include traditional dukonoo (also duckunoo or duckanoo) which originated in Ghana and is called tie-a-leaf and blue drawers (draws) in Jamaica. It's a dessert made from cornmeal, coconut, spices and brown sugar, tied up in a banana leaf. You'll also enjoy sweet potato pudding, fried fish and bammy, as well as an abundance of vegetarian and Ital selections.
Here's some information from the Fi Wi Sinting website about the entertainment you can expect:
"Experience the pulsating rhythms of the Kumina drums brought to our shores from the Congo, the mento band - our own indigenous folk music, participate in Nyabinghi chanting with Rastafarians, or join children as they playfully follow closely behind the Jonkonoo band with its main character, Pitchy Patchy, which travelled with us from West Africa."
More about the music and dancing
1) Jonkanoo (John Canoe), a Jamaican traditional dance of African origin, is performed mainly at Christmas time. The folk music is a highly rhythmical and the dance is carnival-like. Some key characters in the dance are Pitchy Patchy, Horsehead, Cowhead and Belly Woman. The music typically features cowbells, whistles and goatskin drums that are carried on the shoulders and played with sticks. Jonkanoo is said to have become popular when celebrating the abolition of slavery in the Island. More about Jonkanoo.
2) Kumina is both a dance and a religion and is indigenous to Jamaica. It was brought to the island by indentured Akan-speaking people from the Congo and Ivory Coast after the abolition of slavery. During the Kumina ceremony, spirits of the dead are summoned to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful, so that they can share their wisdom and advice to those here on Earth. Kumina is most common in the parishes of Portland & St Thomas and you may find it at wakes and burials (deadyards), as well as at other types of ceremonies. Drum playing is an integral part of the Kumina ritual, while the most common dance is known as "inching", where the dancers shuffle their feet as they move in a circular motion.
Enjoy a short video from the 2010 Fi Wi Sinting festival for a taste of Kumina drumming:
3) Mento is Jamaica’s original rural folk (or "country") music. It's the grandfather of reggae music and had significant influences on the formation of that genre. It was inspired by African and European music as well as by American jazz and featured acoustic guitars, banjos, bamboo saxes, hand drums and marimbula (large thumb pianos) also called rhumba boxes, which were large enough to sit on and play. Many of the original Mento instruments were handmade and some were the instruments of plantation owners. Mento's vocals have a distinctly African sound and the lyrics are almost always humorous and happy. Don't confuse it with Calypso music (which came from Trinidad).
Watch, enjoy and learn a little about Mento, the grand-daddy of Reggae:
For more about the Fi Wi Sinting festival, contact them by phone at (876) 913-0103, (876) 426-1957, or visit Fi Wi Sinting - Portland, Jamaica.