A Bacchanal J’Overt
As Michael B Jordan prepares to make millions on his beautifully packaged J’Ouvert rum (et al), I have a few thoughts on the issue that disrupted people’s peace under the weekend curfew.
The American trademark of Louis Ryan Shaffer’s word noted that it has “no meaning in a foreign language”.
The meaning and origin of the said word are then included in the packaging of the product.
Leave it to capitalism to rewrite entire stories, reshape experiences, and embellish the pieces that those with power and influence deem useful for profit. This is, after all, how the system works. Anyway, the “Party Start”, so lewwe jam.
Language, patois and profit
J’Ouvert / Jouvay is derived from the French dialect and means “dawn”. Most colonizing and oppressive cultures do not care much about recognizing the importance of patois – pidgins, creoles, dialects or vernaculars – of colonized and oppressed peoples because the whole engine of colonialism is fueled by considering people. as less than, less important, or as a means of profit and profitability.
The colonized and oppressed are only considered worth or valuable for what can be taken away from them to be monetized for the benefit of the colonizer or oppressor. I mean, we still see the impact of this ideology today in many ways. But, getting back to the point, some people with power somewhere (and here too) have decided that the languages developed by people forced together in a space to understand their lives through and after forced or oppressive labor have neither meaning nor value. Despite appeals from many Caribbean linguists experts and people with similar lived experiences, those in the power continue to say, no, okay wine. So, alas, our meaning has no “real” value.
Canboulay, blood and tears of ancestors
If you haven’t yet realized that this is a bigger conversation than who filed what, I’m the one saying so explicitly.
There are people far more qualified than me to give more detailed information on how we arrived at today’s Carnival and all the celebrations, celebrations and kindness that have their origins deep in the stories of J’Ouvert. and Canboulay. These were the protests, uprisings, rebellions and retaliations that are an integral part of who we are today and that many still try to make us forget. We come from a dark and oppressive past which produced a lot of magic and beauty through the blood, sweat, tears and literal struggles of people who are the direct ancestors of so many people here today.
But, alas, we don’t talk about these things as much as we should. We don’t even learn it the way we should in school. I guess with everything that’s going on, we’re often so busy fighting to enjoy the things we have today (or staying alive these days) that we forget how we got here.
However, not everyone has forgotten, because for some, these stories are the legacy of the people who brought them into the world and helped build the society in which we live. There are also scores of people here who are actively working to increase attention and recognition of these essential parts of our culture and history, but it can sometimes feel like the same struggles in a burning cane field due to the type of support they receive. It’s really not hard to find these people either – we’ve got a whole department at UWI, and you can often find them working for free around Carnival trying to keep the legacy alive.
The reality is that the struggles through colonialism and capitalism are still going on in the Caribbean in different ways. So, yes, we want everyone to enjoy and celebrate all that we have to offer, but we also want them to recognize and respect the value that we are creating in a way that helps us keep doing that.
Cultural exploitation is for me the same as energy and mining (oil, gas, gold and diamonds). We are glad that you come here, enjoy with us, learn and grow with us, share with us and we share with you, but let’s be fair to each other, support each other and help us get better together.
A progressive system also relies on elected officials and state officials who do the work that says we, as a country, see what we have and what we do as valuable, and put in place the structures to ensure that people and cultural products are treated as such. .
With all the lived experiences and personal stories intertwined in a culture that we want to be globally recognized and respected, it is not difficult to understand how global brand launches tied to the story of people’s struggle for survival can bring about. emotional reactions, especially when there seems to be no connection with the work that is actually being done on the ground to keep the culture alive while respecting the history. I very much hope to be corrected as to the connection, because it offers a great opportunity.
Carnival history fight
Carnival, on the whole, despite the pomp and glamor, continues to be a struggle for many to keep alive a story that can easily be lost or forgotten in all its beauty. Culture evolves over time, but as more and more people find ways to capitalize on what it offers, less support is provided to keep alive the legacy and meaning that started culture.
So Mr. Jordan, his partner Trini et al have found a beautiful way, as many have done and continue to do, to capitalize on the Caribbean, especially the TT culture – the lived experiences and journey of a people related to the subject in varying degrees.
The rum looks like it tastes good, the packaging is well put together, I love the logo but I can’t stand the blobs that look like they can or can’t be TT, the launch party looks like it was on, and all legal commitments seem to have been put in place for the company to do its job. I can understand that they appreciate the culture and what they know about J’Ouvert. In fact, I think it’s a brilliant idea for a rum product.
However, J’Ouvert remains for much more than today’s popularized celebrations, and rightly so.
Lots to unpack
Naming a product after something connects what you put into the world with all of the meanings, feelings, and understandings associated with that thing. Naming a product after something that has as much history and meaning as J’Ouvert is not the same as naming something after a place, a flower, a beach or a tree, for example. .
There is a lot to unpack and consider from many angles on this particular topic. There are also plenty of opportunities that can be beneficial for the product and inspiring backgrounds, depending on the intentions and motivations behind them, of course. Once again, J’Ouvert is more than mud, paint and jam on the road.
Who knows, maybe we all take the plunge before full appreciation is shown. Maybe Mr. Jordan, his partner Trini, and the rest of the team are planning to support a really cool digital museum to capture and present J’Ouvert’s story. Maybe next year for the mother of all carnivals, they plan to show their appreciation for our culture and the continuing struggles of our people with free bottles of rum with the J’Ouvert inscription (that’s a kidding, but you know, we can hope) and a great global marketing campaign encouraging people to visit where it all started. After all, some of the people who keep J’Ouvert alive have been out of work for 15 months now, so increased tourism and activity will help greatly.