Friday, December 30, 2011

It's finally here!

The poster speaks for itself ...

The long-awaited HISTORY OF ST LUCIA is finally here, and the phone has been ringing off the hook with congratulations pouring in for Jolien and her co-authors. The shipment cleared customs on the Friday before Christmas so didn't make it into the shops as the great stocking-filler that it would have been, but you can get your own copy at branches of Sunshine Books, Jambe de Bois restaurant at Pigeon Island and of course, The Reef in Vieux Fort. It will be available in many more locations island-wide once new year celebrations are out of the way. Retail price is EC$75.

For those of you who like that sort of thing, here's the official press release:

PRESS RELEASE - 29 December 2011

The first-ever comprehensive history of St Lucia is now in local bookstores. The authors hope it will become a tool for teaching students about their island’s past, as well as providing St Lucians world-wide with a detailed and factual history of their own ancestors’ lives.

“A HISTORY OF ST LUCIA” covers the period from the island’s creation to the passing in 2007 of long serving Prime Minister and “Father of the Nation”, Sir John Compton, the architect of independence.

The 400-plus page book records the island’s geological formation and subsequent Amerindian occupation, through colonization by France and England to the rise and fall of the sugar industry, the tribulations of slavery, the Brigand wars, Emancipation, the struggle for independence, dignity and respectability, the birth of trade unions and political parties, the demise of the sugar industry and the social revolution created by the advent of bananas as an economic emancipator.

The book was originally commissioned by British publisher MacMillan Caribbean, whose efforts to produce it were derailed by the 2008 world economic crisis. However, the three authors decided that such a vitally important book simply could not be abandoned at that stage and, given the tremendous amount of work already put into the project, decided to produce the book themselves.

Principal driving force behind A HISTORY OF ST LUCIA was Dutch-born Jolien Harmsen, who has lived in Vieux Fort since 1994 and holds a PhD in Social History based on research done on the island.

Another author is former Director of the St Lucia National Trust Robert Devaux, who has spent a lifetime promoting the conservation of St Lucia’s natural and cultural heritage and has several published works to his credit.

The trio of authors is rounded off by journalist Guy Ellis, whose career has run side by side with the island’s more recent past and who has written books on St Lucia as well.

An interesting aspect of the content of A HISTORY OF ST LUCIA is the choice of some very unique photographs of developments on the island over the years. For instance, the cover design by Cecile Wiltshire features an uncommon photograph of two local women’s teams playing a cricket match in Castries around 1900.

A HISTORY OF ST LUCIA is published by Lighthouse Road Publications of Vieux Fort. It is already available for sale at the island’s leading bookstores.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Freeing 'Japan'

For 7 months, a dog called 'Japan' lived on board a ship that had been seized on drug charges in the port of Vieux Fort. For all that time, the dog was looked after by a singularly dedicated customs official. With a little help from the St Lucia Animal Protection Society, she was finally released from her round-the-clock guard duties in late August...

Click to view

Friday, April 22, 2011

Watch out, there's a doctor about!

Not many people know Jolien as 'Dr. Harmsen', but there was no getting away from it last week in Soufriere, where she delivered the 11th annual S. Wayne Louis Memorial Lecture. The lecture is one of the leading activities of National Youth month, and is the initiative of the S. Wayne Louis Foundation, in collaboration with the Saint Lucia National Youth Council and the Department of Youth and Sports.

In accepting the invitation, Jolien joined the ranks of noted local and regional scholars and academics such as Professor Hilary Beckles, Barry Chevannes, Dr Tennyson Joseph, Kennedy "Boots" Samuel and Cynthia Barrow - all of whom have made presentations in the lecture series over the years.

The topic, 'The Untold stories and Contributions of Liberated Africans (Neg Djine) in St Lucia' was chosen from a chapter of Jolien's soon-to-be-published work, 'A History of St Lucia' which she co-authored with Guy Ellis, MBE and Robert Devaux, OBE.

The presentation recounted the history of liberated Africans who came to St Lucia as free labourers in the decades following Emancipation, and discussed their impact and influence on contemporary society. Jolien's lecture was enthusiastically received and prompted a lively question-and answer-session.

Prior to the lecture, Ras Isley set the tone for the evening with a rousing cultural presentation featuring drumming and poetry.

The death of Stephen Wayne Louis in 1998 prompted a group of like-minded family, friends and colleagues to establish a foundation in his honour. During his life, Wayne held a passion for African history, community development, youth work, sports and politics and he made valuable contributions to numerous organizations. Central to his diverse interests was his drive for the advancement of African peoples. The S. Wayne Louis Foundation continues on his philosophies, creating the opportunity for St. Lucians to be actively involved in various aspects of the promotion and advancement of African heritage and St. Lucian society.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kite Fiesta 2011 – what a weekend that was!

Fri 11th – Sun 13th March 2011

It all started with a blistering Friday night launch party … “That party was da bomb” someone said … and I couldn’t have put it better myself. With only a couple of official speeches (you can never really get away from those) and a lot of fun, laughs, dancing, delicious food and flowing drinks, it was a great way to welcome all those who had joined us for the event, as well as for setting the mood of the entire weekend.

Saturday dawned windless and overcast, and as we later found out, although it was mainly dry where we were, everywhere else outside of an approx 1-mile radius of The Reef experienced downpours for most of the day. Highly unusual for the time of year, but apart from a couple of light showers, at least we were spared the worst of it.
But nothing kills a good beach party, and since that’s what the fiesta is all about, the moderate crowds that gathered still had lots to enjoy. The local restaurants invited to participate, served up Caribbean fare from booths set up on the beach. From Jamaican Jerk, and Indo-Guyanese curried dishes to Rastafarian itals and local seafood, there was something for all palates.
Whenever the wind filled in, kiters hit the water to put on a show for the audience even though it was not consistent enough to run any of the kite events. Jeremie Tronet and Nicholas Dulac first of all invented, and then demonstrated, kite-fishing to everyone. Clearly, with one or two refinements, there’s definitely a future in it!
Tropix band were a hit on Saturday night. What a great sound … and we’ll be looking to book them again really soon (any excuse for another party). Watch this space.

Sunday morning, 4 am... still utter darkness outside but with the definite sound of wind in the trees! By 7 am it was blowing nicely so off to The Reef to get the sound system going and to rouse the kiters. The effects of too many Strongbows the night before was hastily washed away with cups of steaming cappuccino and massive plates of bacon and eggs. By 9 am, the skippers' meeting was underway and the first kites got out on the water. A couple of free-style heats later and the beach was full of spectators from town and further afield, enjoying the action; huge jumps, handle-passes, kite loops, the Jesus-walk and other tricks, completed successfully or - not! The sight of riders soaring and/or crashing, with glittering water spraying everywhere only fuelled the excitement, especially amongst the younger members of the public.

By noon, the traditional St Lucia Dash - a race in which kiters partner up with individual kids to perform a relay race on sea and beach - brought out a record number of kids from town, jumping up and down eager to be chosen to run the next race. A 16-year old girl who promised that she "could tell dem she was only 12" was turned down, but the little kid who raced his heart out, all the while holding on with one clenched fist to the waist band of ripped and hugely oversized shorts, stole everybody's heart. The orange Superman-kites handed out by Dimitri Maramenides, pro-kiter and judge for the event, were keenly received and several took to the skies immediately. More than 10 days after the event, whilst driving through Vieux Fort, we had to put the brakes on and swerve to avoid a series of little home-made kites being flown on the road along Bruceville. Inspiration starts at age four!
Sunday night got the beach back into full party mode with the 'Changes' band warming-up for 'Fourth World' reggae band who came on and blew us all away. Can't wait for next year's fiesta. Make sure you don't miss it!

See more pics from the event HERE.

The event was endorsed by the Southern Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) and sponsored by The Reef, Strongbow cider, Terra Online Real Estate, Paradise Springs water, Goddard Catering, Jako Productions, Phoenix Entertainment and Paramount Appliances.

Overall results

1. Jeremie Tronet
2. Beth Lygoe
3. Cody Modeste

1. Beth Lygoe
2. Linn Svendsen

1. Jeremie Tronet
2. Cody Modeste
3. Tommy Rungaldier/ Piotr Gasperski

National Ranking

1. Beth Lygoe

1. Cody Modeste
2. Stan Gustave

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kite Fiesta is back!

The Reef will once again play host to the St Lucia Kitesurfing Fiesta on 12th-13th March 2011. Sandy Beach, Vieux Fort is the place to be if you don't want to miss out on all the fun and action!
As the name implies, the Kite Fiesta is more than just a competition. It is two days of amazing stunts carried out by leaders of one of the fastest-growing adrenaline sports, and a celebration of the laid-back freedom that Vieux Fort offers visitors from near and far.
Along with kiddies events, local food stalls, equipment demos and a variety of other beach activities, you can also dance the night away to the sounds of live reggae and rock bands.

Best of all, the Kite Fiesta is free to spectators, and there's only a modest US$50 entry fee for participants in the kite competition. For more information about the event and to reserve accommodation (available at reduced rates to spectators/competitors attending the event), visit the event website at:

You can also enjoy images from last year's event by clicking here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Improve your technique with Clarissa Hempel

Clarissa Hempel, Cabrinha pro-team rider will be at
The Reef Kite + Surf

7th-10th February 2011

Here's your chance to hang out and ride with a professional kitesurfer who is passionate about the sport, and to get hints and tips about those manoeuvres that you've not quite been managing to pull off.

Clarissa's experience in wave riding, freestyle and racing, allow her to help others improve their skills and boost confidence in order to take their riding to the next level.

Tips and advice will be offered to kiters at The Reef Kite + Surf in free informal sessions brought to you courtesy of The Reef and Cabrinha Kites.