Culture & Family Fun at Portland's Fi Wi Sinting 2014!
Fi Wi Sinting 2014, a unique cultural festival that pays tribute to Jamaica's African heritage, will mark it's 24th staging on Sunday, February 16th, from 10:00am to 8:30pm.
The phrase "Fi Wi Sinting" means "It is ours" in Jamaican patois, and captures the spirit in which Jamaicans embrace the food, traditions and customs that followed many of their ancestors from Africa. February is Black History Month and the Festival is Jamaica's biggest African-centered cultural event.
Enjoy a day for the entire family as you mingle with visitors, tourists and Jamaicans from all walks of life at this year's festival!
Getting to Fi Wi Sinting 2014
Somerset Falls Water Park, in Portland Parish, is the setting for the festival, and you'll find this lush property transformed into a big marketplace. Somerset Falls is located just off of Route A4 between the communities of Hope Bay and St. Margaret's Bay, about 10 miles west of Port Antonio.
If you're coming from the west (Annatto Bay), look for the signs as soon as you pass through Hope Bay. If coming from the east (Port Antonio), look for the signs once you have passed St. Margaret's Bay and the Ken Jones Aerodrome.
The driving time from Port Antonio is about 15 minutes. From either Kingston or Ocho Rios, the drive will take about 1 3/4 hours.
How to Get Tickets
Admission is J$800 for adults, J$300 for children 12 and under, and J$500 for students with ID. In US dollars, the prices are $9.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 12 and under, and $6.00 for students with ID.
You can also purchase tickets online via EventBrite for a small handling fee.
The Fi Wi Sinting 2014 festival organizers can be reached at (876) 913-0108, or contact them via the website if you would like to make a group booking.
What to Expect
The Fi Wi Sinting 2014 marketplace will featuring art, 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 very 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."
Enjoy these highlights from previous Fi Wi Sinting festivals:
A Little History
but the heritage you leave behind."
Jamaica is a diverse mix of the descendants of African slaves and European settlers. The first Africans arrived in the West Indies as slaves in the early 1500s after being taken from West Africa by the Spanish and the Portuguese. When the English captured Jamaica in 1655, the Spaniards armed small numbers of slaves so they could defend the island against the British. Many of these slaves fled to the hills where, still today, their descendants, the Maroons, live in secluded communities.
By 1700, Jamaica had about 70 sugar plantations, and the island's population consisted of 7,000 English to 40,000 enslaved Africans. This grew to more than 680 plantations and, by 1800, the population was 21,000 English to 300,000 enslaved Africans. Planters exported sugar, molasses and rum home to England to be sold for profit. Ships returned to Africa to collect more slaves in exchange for trinkets and transported them to the West Indies as a continuous source of labor.
The slaves came primarily from Eastern, Central, and Western Africa, bringing their customs and traditions with them. A spiritual people, music and dancing were important, and drums were sometimes used to communicate from one plantation to another. (This often resulted in bans on drumming.)
The slaves transplanted some of their African food ingredients, like okra, black-eyed peas, sesame, rice and watermelon, and added New World ingredients like corn, sweet potatoes and yams. They also recreated African musical instruments from materials found in Jamaica (calabash, conch, bamboo, etc.) and improvised their song and dance.
Jamaican music today developed out of the traditional work songs sung by slaves, the ceremonial music used in religious services and the social and recreational music played on holidays and during leisure time. Some of the Jamaican traditions that have roots in Africa and will be honored at Fi Wi Sinting 2014 include:
- Jonkanoo (John Canoe), a traditional dance of African origin, is performed in Jamaica 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.
- Kumina is both a dance and a religion and is indigenous to Jamaica. It was brought to the island by enslaved 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 today 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.
- Mento is Jamaica’s original rural "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 satire. Don't confuse it with Calypso music (which originated in Trinidad).
A Few Tips for Enjoying Fi Wi Sinting 2014
- Bring a collapsible umbrella or a cheap rain poncho that can stay in your bag till you need it. It rains often in Portland, and you never know when you may get a rain shower. You'll be happy you came prepared!
- Apply sunscreen. You'll be outside all day.
- Don't forget a camera, or at least a smartphone with a camera, so you can capture the unique drum and dance performances.
Where to Stay Nearby
If you're coming to Fi Wi Sinting 2014 and want to make an enjoyable weekend of it, you may need a place to stay. Check our pages for places to stay in Portland and in Saint Mary. They will all put you within about a 30 minute drive of Somerset Falls.
Get More Information
For more about Fi Wi Sinting 2014, check out these links:
Fi Wi Sinting Official Website
On Twitter @FiWiSinting2014
Enjoy your day at the Fi Wi Sinting 2014 Festival!