Kwe Kwe Nite’ in Brooklyn

Lin-Jay Harry-Voglezon reports on a traditional Afro-Guyanese premarital ceremony, Caribbean Life, September 14, 2012.

On Friday, Aug. 31 the St. Stephen’s Church Auditorium in Newkirk Avenue, Brooklyn, was a hive of dramatic moments and laughter, as emigrant Guyanese acted out Kwe Kwe ceremonies. Traditionally, Kwe Kwe is a premarital ceremony, the night before marriage, done mainly by the rural Afro community in Guyana. It’s a night when the prospective bride is hidden away and the prospect groom has to find her, as the beating of drums to the rhythm of folk songs charge the atmosphere. On finding her, their family processions meet and the prospective husband and wife are soon encircled. The tempo of the drums intensifies, and the songs become increasingly rhythmical, brazen in extemporaneous composition, and romantic suggestiveness. Among other things, the prospective bride and groom, individually and collectively are asked to “show me yuh ‘science’”; they have to wine. Onlookers are amused, impressed or disappointed and accordingly speculate on the couples’ romantic capabilities and potential outcomes.

Kwe Kwe Nite” as promoted by the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., is another attempt at helping the Guyanese emigrant community to retain elements of their culture. Earlier this summer it sponsored a Heritage Camp where children were taught Masquerade among other things.

For original report: Kwe Kwe Nite’ in Brooklyn • Caribbean Life.

Author: Ken Archer

I am an ethnomusicologist, who obtained my doctoral degree at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. My areas of interests include the musical, ritual, and celebratory traditions of the circum-Caribbean and the African Diaspora. I worked as a lecturer at the Columbus and Marion Campuses of the Ohio State University, where I taught classes in World Music, Rock and Roll/American Popular Music, Western Art Music, and directed the OSU Steel Pan ensemble.