by Gabriel J. Christian, President at Rebuild Dominica Inc.
As the summer ran its course, Rebuild Dominica stalwarts LaDàna Drigo, Joan Christian, Ta’Tyani “Anyé ” Young, and Tarnia Green, worked diligently alongside Sabiena George Mingo, Don Mingo and other members of “Know Your Culture Dance Group” to prepare costumes for the Virginia Carnival Norfolk CaribFest.
The Know Your Culture Dance Group was founded in 2008 to promote Dominica’s traditional dance and music among young and old in the United States by former Dominica Girl Guide and Junior Carnival Queen from the 1970s Sabiena George Mingo. With the solid support of her US Navy veteran husband, New Jersey born Don Mingo, Know Your Culture has distinguished itself by training US born children of the Dominica Diaspora and others in various traditional Dominica dance forms like the bèlè and quadrille. In then words of Mingo, “when our US born kids have a solid grasp of Dominica culture they will have the pride and confidence to make better contributions to where they live, while remembering to support their ancestral home. We even train those with out roots in Dominica and that way we promote tourism.”
On August 18th 2018, Dominica was given pride of place and led the parade which flowed through Norfolk’s canyon of high rise commercial buildings, with hundreds of ecstatic spectators cheering on the Dominica contingent bearing the national flag and gaily colored madras patterned costumes. The women in the Dominica Diaspora contingent were beautiful and their red sash wearing male companions were a delight to watch as they danced to lively calypso music in this major U.S. Navy town.
Dominica was in the house, and the home town crowd gave a warm welcome to the representatives of the Nature Isle whose plucky folk had survived the horrors of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Our faith and united efforts, despite the hurdles of that natural disaster and man-made obstacles, showed that we were alive as a people and determined to make Dominica smile again. Our unique Creole jing-ping music, sensay costumes, and wob dwiyets were a unique and spectacular component of the carnival with none to compare. In the glow of our determination and faith to survive and thrive we brought smiles to all who partook of the awesome 2018 Norfolk Caribbean Festival.
Rebuild Dominica was happy to partner with an ace organization dedicated to the patriotic ethic and the promotion of the best of our culture and tourism product. Tourism brochures from the Discover Dominica Authority were distributed to attendees at a booth erected in the park which hosted the festival. We say, “Well done Sabiena George Mingo and Know Your Culture! You rock out!”