The Government of Saint Lucia, through the Cabinet of Ministers, has agreed to the adoption of a Kwéyòl version of Saint Lucia’s National Anthem.
This decision comes on the eve of Saint Lucia’s 37th Anniversary of Independence on February 22, 2016. As Kwéyòl is seen as a mother tongue for Saint Lucia, this feat is also in commemoration of UNESCO’s International Mother Languages Day, which is celebrated on February 21, 2016.
A number of events marking Independence 37 will use the new Chanson Nasyonnal for this first time.
Work on adopting the Chanson Nasyonnal commenced as far back as 2010.
While a church group in Gros Islet had valiantly attempted an earlier Kwéyòl version, the Kwéyòl Language Committee of the Folk Research Centre, chaired at the time by Lecturer, Ms. Lindy-Ann Alexander, decided to develop and seek formal adoption of a Kwéyòl version of our National Anthem that captured the essence and meaning of the original song written in English by Fr. Charles Jesse, OBE (deceased).
Pastor Wulstan Charles, a member of the Kwéyòl Language Committee of the Folk Research Centre, was commissioned to prepare a first draft for consideration.
This he did, and this formed the working draft for adoption. The final version of the Chanson Nasyonnal was developed after going through a number of iterations.
This work was undertaken by a special committee chaired by Her Excellency the Governor General, Dame Pearlette Louisy.
The words of the Chanson Nasyonnal closely conform to the meaning of the English Anthem, though changes have been made to ensure that the Kwéyòl lyrics are in consonance with the music composed by Sir Leton Thomas.
Many countries throughout the world have more than one version of their national anthem. There is also precedent set by many countries to have their national anthems sung in their mother tongue and their official language.
Examples of countries with multiple versions include Canada, Cameroon, Ireland, Haiti, Mauritius, New Zealand, Seychelles and Paraguay. The anthem of South Africa in fact incorporates five of the country’s eleven official languages.
The Government of Saint Lucia sees this formal adoption as a momentous and historic occasion in embracing our national identity and in particular our Kwéyól language heritage.
The Government intends to pursue further efforts to promote the use of Kwéyòl, as committed to in the Throne Speech of 2014.
The Government of Saint Lucia encourages the wide use and adoption of this event at national public functions where the anthem is sung. The Government of Saint Lucia continues to remind all Saint Lucians to show due regard and respect to both the English and Kwéyòl anthems