Lawrence Brumant Celebrates History Week with CHS

Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2012 Published: Tuesday, 11 October 2011 Written by Alex-Maree Roberts

The second assembly of history week was led by Ms. Shannie Blanc and the students of the second form. Under the theme, ‘Saluting our Cultural Elders’, today’s elder was Lawrence Brumant. Mr. Brumant is synonymous with ‘Konte’.



The assembly began with the Lord’s Prayer and two Hail Mary’s. Then, Shania Scotland and Tabitha Baron read a bible reading from Romans 1:16-25. Then four bidding prayers were said: against worshipping material things, for living in harmony with God, for turning away from sinful ways and for the cultural elders that they may continue to educate the youth. Next, the staff, students and guests joined their voices in sing ‘God He So Loved His People’.


The next part of the assembly was done by recently-retired CHS teacher, Ms. Marcella Severin. For this week, she gives information about the past life in Dominica. She said that Dominica used to be 99% Catholic. Every night, most families knelt around a bed and prayed. The usual prayers were Gentle Jesus, Angel of God My Guardian Dear, the rosary, the Lord’s Prayer and the Acts. There was a long Corpus Christi procession everywhere, where everyone dressed in white and houses on the route were decorated.

In school, the hairstyles were limited to two or three plaits. Also, one of the children’s delight was a nonfat milk drink that the teachers made, from nonfat milk sent by the government. In homes, the helpers were called servants. They wore white nurses’ hats and white aprons. Every afternoon, the ‘servants’ acting as nannies would take the children to the gardens. While the children played, they would chat amongst themselves.

Ms. Severin continued to say that ‘Respect’ was taken very seriously in days gone. People answered politely, ‘Yes Ms. Alexis, No Ms. Alexis.’ The bishop was answered, ‘Yes my Lord and no my Lord.’ ‘Backchat’ was a very rare occurrence as manners were bred into the children from a young age.

In times past, a shilling could buy a lot. A shilling was 24 pence. People could buy penny butter, penny bread, cooking butter, ‘frozen Joyce’ (a delight of children), ‘Unbreakables’ (a hard candy) and just about anything for a penny. Things were cheaper in those days. Also, bearing in mind that it was a simpler time, there were few vehicles and many short cuts in and out of the city.

Also entertainment was very prominent and diverse in those days. There were games like ‘hoop saway’ and ‘la patie’. The children and even sometimes adults jumped rope. Young boys killed birds with ‘catapols’ which were like slingshots. They feathered, salted and roasted these birds. Many indulged in baths and picnics in or near river lakes. There were often moonlight garden walks as well as singing and dancing games. ‘Dance ilay-lay’ was common. The garden charge (warden)would blow a whistle to signal the closing of the gardens. Televisions were not common but often, some people had radios. Large amounts of people would gather at homes with radios to listen to music. Young people were known to record lyrics for future reference. On Sunday afternoons, children went to matinee at the cinema, where there were four levels. The topmost and most expensive was the balcony. The loudest was the pit. When fights occurred on and off the movie, the crowd would chant ‘HIGAS!!!!!!’ very loudly. When the movie malfunctioned, the crowd would bawl ‘HAWAL!!!!!’ to get the operating man, Harold, to try to fix it. When the movie Dracula played, boys used to wear white sheets with eye slits and swarm those from the movies. They used to be quite mischievous.

After these reminisces, Danielle Carbon-Wilson read a biography on Mr. Brumant. He was born in Vielle Case in 1939. He now lives there with his wife. He remembers nine-night wakes when someone died and night-time get-togethers among the men. At these times, rum was shared and stories were told. Mr. Brumant was married in 1967 and had seven children. He had many achievements and held important positions in Dominica’s cultural and political history. He often won contests for his Konte, as in Jamaica in 1988. He introduced the use of props and costumes twhen telling the stories.

The penultimate event, and possibly the most exciting, was when Mr. Brumant himself told some jokes and stories. He explained the concept of cow and caw (cable and wireless). He told a story of how Dominica got its name, from books in the bible and the difference between an English man and an American man. Finally, he told a story of Pastor Grell and his ‘bread from heaven’.


Finally, Ms. JnoBaptiste thanked the elders for their presentations and Ms. Severin and Mr. Brumant received tokens of appreciation.

Keep posted for more Historical treats this week.


View a slideshow of the History Week event here.


!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAPPY  HISTORY  WEEK  TO  ALL!!!!!!!!!!!

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