Global: International Creole Month

October has become the month of the worldwide celebration of Creole language and the Creole blogosphere is paying attention.

What is Creole, exactly? This is probably one of the most debated topics among linguists worldwide – it is an incredibly complex and diverse language. The fruit of migrations and population mingling, Creole language has been, since the distant times of slavery, a vernacular language, either prohibited or underrated. But things started to change in the 1980s, as explained by the Creole-oriented Reunionese blog, Renyone [Cr, Eng]:

In 1981 scientists having Creole as their mother tongue started asking themselves questions about the methods that could be used to promote the Creole language, following a scientific symposium organised by the international committee for Creole studies working on the theme: a Creole / Creoles, continuity and creativity in the Creole world.

Renyone gives more details about the establishment of what has become a tradition in most Creolophone countries [Eng]:

In 1982 the Seychelles government organised a Creole week.
The first international BANNZIL KREYOL day took place on the 28th October 1983. Ever since, the 28th October has been celebrated annually in all Creole countries the world over.

Since then, the preservation of this vernacular language, sometimes called a dialect, has been a great concern for many people as shown by this statement of objectives published by the International Organization of Creole People. A Facebook group named “Annou Palé Patwa” (Creole for “Let's speak Patois/Creole) relays this concern since in a topic entitled Creole Month, a Trinidadian user wonders about this year's celebration [En]:

Well October is Creole month the world over, what can we do to promote it in Trinidad?
What do you think will be the best way to go if we were to do something national?

Initiatives to promote, preserve or celebrate Creole are local field work as much as governemental policy. Here is a post published by Dominican blogger Living Dominica two years ago in which we can see that in some countries, this celebration is not just a token gesture [En]:

This month is Creole time here on Dominica, which is my very favorite celebration. This time of year is a festival honoring all things Dominican. Everyone gets into the spirit of things in the days leading up to Independence Day (Nov. 3) and the World Creole Music Festival (Oct. 26-28)

Mentioned above, the World Creole Music Festival was born 13 years ago from the Dominican government's will to associate the International Creole Month to its celebration of the Independence of the island on November 3rd 1978.

From all this, it is quite obvious that Creole Month and Creole Day, October 28th, are not uniformly celebrated worldwide. Here are some posts about 2009 Creole Day events:

From London, the group MBMB “Minm Biten, Minm Bagay” (Guadeloupean and Martinican Creole phrases which mean “it's all the same”) wrote a post in order to invite people to the event that took place on Sept. 27th 2009 and also to recall previous editions of their “MBMB Kreyol Day”.

In Canada, the Creole-oriented organization Kepkaa invites people for “Mwa kréyol la nan Monréyal” (Haitian Creole for “Creole Month in Montreal”) in a post entitled “Ann fété kilti kreyol nou yo” (Haitian Creole for “Let's celebrate Creole cultures together”). Another Canadian event was announced on Miss Creole Canada Pageant and relayed on Facebook, it was the first of its kind, crowning of a Miss from Creole heritage, which took place on October 17th, as part of the celebration of the Creole Month.

In Paris, blogger Anba pyé mango-la announces a cultural evening called “Tan Kréyol” (Creole for “Hear Creole”) where the oral transmission of Creole is given a place of honor [Fr Cr]:

Senn-la wouvè ba tout moun : poèt, chantè, slamè, makè, kontè, mizisyen… .

The mic is open to everyone: poets, singers, poetry slammers, writers, storytellers, musicians….

In Guadeloupe, the local authorities have organized a month-long program taking place in different locations, in order to celebrate “Mwa òktòb kréyol an mouvman” (Creole for “October, Creole in motion). Here are the two main points of this program posted by guadeloupe.coconews [Fr Cr]:

1. Prèmyé dékatman ba tout moun
2. Dézyèm dékatman èvè zanfan-lékòl

1. First session of activities opened to everyone
2. Second session of activities reserved to pupils and students

Finally, from Martinique, montraykreyol publishes a post which questions the Creole Month celebration there and most precisely the relevance of celebrating Creole in a week-long festival [Fr Cr]:

Es ou ka kwè ki an sel simenn pou défann kréyol adan tout lanné-a sifizan ?

CLAUDE MARLIN : Dapré mwen non, sa ja an pal pou kréyol-la menm manniè ki tout travay-la ki za fet asou lang-lan. Men fok pandan tout lanné-a, ni travay ki pou fet, fok véyatif toulong, pas menm si kréyol ka rantré latélévizion, laradio, nan piblisité kontel, bien délè sa ka an kréyol toubònman, tjòlòlò ek sa pé désèvi lang-la.

Do you believe that one week a year to defend Creole is enough?
CLAUDE MARLIN : I don't think so but it's already a great thing for Creole as everything else that has been done about the language. Yet, things must be done all year long and we have to be careful all the time, because even when Creole is spoken on TV, on the radio or in commercials for exemple, most of the time it is rough or broken, which can be harmful to the integrity of the language.

The thumbnail image used in this post, “Openness and Collaboration”, is by psd, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit psd's flickr photostream.
This post was also translated by the author.


  • […] it and it is truly an international language. Fabienne Fassel over at Global Voices, has a nice post that talks about how some folks in the African diaspora are celebrating International Creole […]

  • marvel

    I see that you have quoted me using text from annou palé patwa. Well I am a Trinidadian who is also a native speaker of Trinidadian French Creole and I would love to see the language come alive in Trinidad again. Visit the face book page often post your questions and I will get back to u.

  • I must say there is great information but you forgot about nearly 2 million other Creoles, Louisiana Creoles. That come from Louisiana a U.S.A state north of the Gulf, and was controlled by the French and Spanish. Our language is Louisiana Creole and Louisiana French. The language is similar to many in Haiti but, our language since the turn of the 1900s has had a decline in speakers. We are currently working on brining it back. Please visit the website to learn about Louisiana Creole (history, food, music, and more).

    Laissez les bon temp rouler :)

  • thank you for promoting thecreole language !Merci pour avoir fait la promotion de la langue creole. Mesi pou kontribisyon lang creol la . PLease visit http://www.cci-mission in order to make a world a better place .

  • […] as Bannzil Kreyol Day. (For more about Creole see these blog posts I’ve written, or read this Global Voices article to learn more about International Creole Month). On a more personal note on October 8th I reached […]

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