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January 24 2014

Chikungunya on the Rise in the Caribbean

Chikungunya, a mosquito borne illness that causes fever and severe joint pain, has been spreading throughout several Caribbean territories since late last month.

Officials on the island of St. Martin, have begun vector control measures to reduce the population of the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is primarily responsible for the spread of the virus; regional netizens have been using Twitter to give updates:

Cases have also been reported on the Dutch side of the island:

Other territories are also taking precautions as cases of the virus have been reported in several other islands:

American Science Professor and blogger Jeff Stratford predicted that it is only a matter of time until cases of the virus appear in the United States:

Why do I think Chukungunya is coming to the US? The virus is carried by mosquitoes are are ubiquitous throughout the Americas. All the virus needs to get a foothold in the US is for an infected individual (say a tourist) to bring the virus back to the Americas while the virus is circulating in their bloodstream. Then an “American” mosquito can bite the infected person, pick up the virus, and the cycle starts anew. 

Since 2005, cases of the virus has been reported in over 40 countries worldwide. You can keep track of the regional spread of the disease via Twitter, under the hashtags #chikungunya #caribbean.

December 17 2013

Explaining the Evergrowing Tradition of “Chanté Nwèl” (Singing Christmas) in the French West Indies

Between late November and December 25, a unique tradition is taking place every year in the Francophone Caribbean islands, especially in Martinique and Guadeloupe. “Chanté Nwel” [fr] is a time when people come together to not only sing traditional Christmas songs but also share a meal as a community. Although the tradition of singing Christmas carols has slowed down in France, it has grown stronger than ever in the french west indies [fr]. Hélène Clément explains the sad origin of the tradition that has been turned into a festive celebration [fr] :

L’article 2 du Code noir promulgué par Louis XIV en 1685 prévoyait « l’instruction religieuse des esclaves ». Les jésuites, chargés de poursuivre cette instruction religieuse, enseigneront aux esclaves à jouer de certains instruments dans le but de former des choristes pour les offices religieux [..] Le « chanté Nwèl » dans les Antilles françaises reste un moment de partage et de solidarité.

The article 2 of the Code Noir [Black Code] promulgated by Louis XIV in 1685 stipulated that “religious instruction be provided to slaves.” The Jesuits taught slaves through the religious instruction to play some instruments in order to assemble a choir for religious services [..] The “Chanté Nwèl” in the French West Indies is first and foremost a time of sharing and solidarity

Here is a video of one of the most known carol :Joseph mon cher fidèle (Joseph, my dear faithful) [fr]:

Daniel, from Martinique, explains the drinking tradition during “Chanté Nwèl” [fr]:

Autrefois, lors des ces « chanté Nwel», on servait en dehors du traditionnel punch, du sirop d’orgeat aux dames, ainsi que du chocolat à l’eau épaissi au toloman pour se réchauffer du « froid piquant » des nuits de décembre… dès la fin du mois de novembre, on prépare le  schrubb avec des écorces d’oranges que l’on fait macérer dans du rhum au soleil.

Back in the days during “Chanté Nwèl”, the traditional cocktail punch and chocolate water thickened with toloman were served to warm the “sneaky cold” December nights; orgeat syrup were reserved for the ladies … at the end of November, the schrubb is prepared with orange peels that has been soaked in rum and exposed to the sun. 

 The following video shows how residents of Gros-Morne, Martinique are celebrating the tradition today [fr]:

November 07 2011

Caribbean: the meaning of identity

Creative Commess hosts a blog symposium “about Caribbean people, about West Indian people, about our contemporary experiences … ranging through race & identity to culture, mental health to constructs of beauty and more,” with contributions from seven Caribbean bloggers.

March 22 2011

Caribbean: Caribe Wave 11, the first simulated tsunami alert

Written by Claire Ulrich

On Wednesday, March 23, the first full-scale simulated tsunami alert exercise will take place in 33 countries in the Caribbean to test the effectiveness of alert, monitoring and warning systems (Hashtag on Twitter: EXERCISE - NOT REAL #CW11) . Open Street Map France [Fr] and Crisis Camp Paris [Fr] will join this exercise to encourage awareness and use of social media tools during emergencies in the French speaking West Indies.

March 04 2011

October 12 2010

St. Maarten: Garden Isle

By Janine Mendes-Franco

“Citizens of St. Maarten have been urged to mark their new political status…by taking practical steps to transform the new Dutch Caribbean nation into a ‘Garden Isle,' with a view to protect the environment and to boost tourism”: Repeating Islands has the link.

June 08 2010

Jamaica, St. Maarten: R.I.P. “Yaya”

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Geoffrey Philp's Blogspot acknowledges the passing of the St. Martin folklorist Laurelle “Yaya” Richards.

December 29 2009

Curacao: Kayaking through Caribbean

Repeating Islands blogs about an activist from Curaçao, who “has paddled more than 1600 kilometres in a kayak to raise awareness for the environment.”

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