Bankra Caribbean Festival In Jamaica Honors Miss Lou’s Legacy

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A report by Maya Kaufman for The Patch. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

The fifth annual Bankra festival showcasing Caribbean folk music, art and culture will celebrate Jamaican poet and folklorist Miss Lou.

The Caribbean community will come together on Saturday for the fifth annual Bankra festival celebrating the folk music, art and culture of the Caribbean Islands.The festival will celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Jamaican poet and folklorist Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley, known affectionately as Miss Lou.

Miss Lou is regarded as the mother of Jamaican culture for her efforts to preserve and celebrate the Jamaican Patois language and the country’s folk culture.

Andrew Clarke, founder of the arts nonprofit Braata Productions, started the free festival in 2015 to honor a facet of Caribbean culture that he felt was underrepresented.

“I thought our community deserved a folk festival — a festival that was truly family-centered and was celebrating and acknowledging that part of our culture that oftentimes gets shifted and ignored,” Clarke told Patch. “It really is the genesis of all that we know to be Caribbean in terms of the arts.”

Bankra is the Jamaican name for a large woven basket used to carry food and other items.

The festival Saturday features a live performance by reggae singer Ernie Smith, a drum circle, folk games and dances, basket weaving, cultural exhibits and a food court.

“The Caribbean is so much more than sun, sand and sea,” Clarke said. “We’re multi-faceted.”

The event also kicks off the celebration of Braata’s 10th anniversary. The performing arts nonprofit gives Caribbean and Caribbean-American artists a platform to showcase works of theater, music and folk art.

The festival starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 in St. Albans Park on Merrick Boulevard. Attendees can register for free online on the Bankra website.

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