Tribute to Sint Maarten’s Great Salt Pond, activism, heritage, and tears

The Tribute to the Great Salt Pond in St Martin ?was an unexpected emotional experience for some of our guests, bringing tears to some eyes,? said Shujah Reiph, president of Conscious Lyrics (CLF).

?Lasana?s poems brought some people to tears and Nicole?s dance excited the audience to burst into applause even before the reading of the poem ?Cradle of the Nation,? was finished,? said Reiph about the CLF production at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

Dancers Nicole de Weever (L) and Rudy Davis (R) perform with poet Lasana Sekou at tribute to the Great Salt Pond. (Saltwater Collection)

Poet/author Lasana Sekou only read three poems in his indubitable performance style, ?The Great Salt Pond Speaks,? ?A Walkabout Poem for Patsy Brooks,? and part 1 of ?Cradle of the Nation.?

Among the audience were relatives of the late Patsy Brooks and people who had picked salt and even played as children in the Great Salt Pond, said Reiph.

Nicole de Weever (R) and Lasana Sekou sign posters and books at tribute to the Great Salt Pond. (Saltwater Collection)

Nicole de Weever, the Broadway star of Fela! fame, choreographed and danced to the recital of ?Cradle of the Nation,? her first public performance on the island in 16 years. She received a strong dance accompaniment by Rudy Davis.

In her Facebook posting to Nehesi House earlier this week, de Weever called the performance an ?experience I will never forget and I will treasure forever.?

Dance divas Clara Reyes (L) and Nicole de Weever at the Great Salt Pond tribute. (Saltwater Collection)

The Q&A following the recital addressed overwhelmingly the environmental and cultural importance of the pond and ways to go about protecting it from further destruction, said Reiph. While it was publicized that a USM class would be attending the reading, one high school teacher also brought her students to the program.

(L-R), Shujah Reiph, pres., Conscious Lyrics, Nicole de Weever, Fela! dancer, Clara Reyes, dir., Imbali dance school, Rudy Davis, dancer, at the Great Salt Pond tribute. (Saltwater Collection)

The ?Petition to protect the Great Salt Pond? from further landfilling and pollution was opened after the recital. The petition was signed by 139 of the some 200 people in attendance at the tribute performance, said Reiph.

The petition can be signed online at Sekou said that after more signatures are collected ?the petition will be presented to the Territory?s parliament.?

The book signing for Sekou?s newest poetry book Pelican Heart / Coraz?n de pel?cano, edited in English and Spanish by the erudite Caribbeanist Emilio Jorge Rodriguez, concluded the February 24 evening of arts, activism, and ?St. Martin people showing love for their heritage,? said Reiph.

The heritage tribute was part of CLF?s 20th annual Black History Celebration, in collaboration with Philipsburg Jubilee Library and House of Nehesi Publishers.

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