Cultural Voice eZine

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Pins and Tucks of Wrapping A Saree - A Jamaican's Cultural Lesson in India

Contributor: Diedre McLeod

Globetrotter at heart, I amplify my Cultural Voice through travelling and indulging in customs very different from my own.
One of my most awe-inspiring experiences was celebrating Diwali 2011 in Mangalore, India. Known as the “Festival of Lights,” everyone lights up the skyline with fireworks and firecrackers – excited that darkness was overcome and celebrating the dawning of light. No house or village is spared the festivities.
But what was most exciting for me was seeing all the beautiful Sarees on parade and ultimately wearing my very own.
The traditional Indian dress for females, the Saree, reveals as much as it conceals. It is also as complex as it is simple – especially when wrapping it! This delicate, free form dress requires a bit of practice (and a whole lot of pins) to get the ‘perfect wrap’.
It took about 20 minutes to wrap (this was partly because I brought the wrong pins). The style my Saree was wrapped in is called the Nivi Style and it’s the most popular style. In the Nivi Style, my saree was pleated in the front with one end of the saree tucked into the waistband of my Lehenga (petticoat) and the other end was thrown over my shoulder. 
What you need:
Choli – bust length blouse worn with saree,
Lehenga – petticoat or skirt worn under saree, and
The Saree of course!

After 20 minutes of undoing and redoing my wrap, I was finally ready to go out and celebrate - firecrackers in hand, YAY ME!!

Source for saree instructions:

Diedre McLeod is a Jamaican committed to cultural exploration. Though a business major, she follows her heart and dreams. Diedre lived in India for 6 months, and currently lives in Lyon, France.  

Monday, 13 February 2012

Interested in being a member of a Caribbean Youth Think Tank??

The objeces of the Youth Think Tk are to:

  1. Support Action Research, pursued as a collaborative activity among young people searching for solutions to challenges experienced in their daily lives.
  2. Develop Policy and propose recommendations to decision makers and general population
  3. Provide technical advice to support the achievements of Youth-IN project goals.
Group Shot of Caricom Youth Ambassadors in haiti

Members of the Youth Think Tank will be in the driver’s seat of this process.

A selection of 14 members will be invited to a face to face meeting in Barbados by the end of the first quarter of 2012 to build and envision a Caribbean Youth Think Tank. Based on joint actions and a Workplan for 2 years The Members of the Youth Think Tank will exchange views online and together produce “youth friendly products” that will be used to raise awareness among Caribbean youth and advocate for policy development on youth issues. Members within the Youth Think Tank will be linked to international opportunities and exchanges. The members will also function as Youth-IN project advocates and champions. They will be invited to Youth-IN project events and will be eligible to participate competitively in UNDP specialized leadership and governance training.  . 


Here is how you can apply:

Step 1: Download the application form from

Step 2:  Send an email to indicating in the subject line your name and “Caribbean Youth Think Tank”.  The email should include:

(a) The completed application form

(b) Your creative representation (i.e. a drawing, a song, a picture, a video) of your vision and/or dream for Youth in the Caribbean. Please use only original materials to avoid copyright issues in your email submission kindly mention: “I understand and agree that this material may and can be used by UNDP and the Constellation for promotion of the Youth Think Tank”. Watch out! Your last chance for submission is on 1st of March 2012.

Step 3:  A selected group will be invited for a 30 minute Skype conversation in the week of 5th – 9th March 2012.

Step 4: The final selection will be announced by 12th March 2012.

Paula HidalgoSanchis, Youth-IN Project Coordinator, UNDP Barbados and OECS


Autry Haynes, on behalf of the Constellation Coach Team

Friday, 10 February 2012

Should Armenia take part in Eurovision's song contest?

From the moment Azerbaijan was announced the winner of “Eurovision song contest 2011”, a range of discussions started within Armenians on “Whether Armenia should take part in Eurovision song contest 2012 in Baku or not?”.

Baku, Host city of Eurovision 2012
More about Baku

If the contest was hosted by any other country there would never be a single hesitation, as Armenia, being a small country, always tries to be represented in various international events, whether they are cultural or sport events, thus making the world know about this small but a very strong nation, which has a priceless historical heritage. So the existence of different and often even controversial opinions is accounted for by the fact that there exists a deep-rooted political dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan about Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Already for 54 years, the Eurovision Song Contest is Europe's favourite TV show. After more than five decades featuring some 1,100 songs, the contest has become a modern classic, strongly embedded into Europe's collective mind." -

Unfortunately, because of this dispute, there are a great number of prejudices and stereotypes between Armenian and Azeri societies towards each other. But there is also another reason why Armenians are uncertain to go to Baku. Last October, during World Boxing Championship 2011, held in Baku, “Karabakh Liberation Organization” rushed into the Heydar Aliyev Stadium, where the championship was taking place and started throwing stones at the Armenian delegation before the police intervened. After this incident, of course a question arises, “How can Armenians be sure that a similar aggressive attack will not take place during this year’s song contest and that the security of the Armenian delegation will be guaranteed?”. Even though I am also concerned about the security Azeri authorities should provide to the Armenian delegation, I am for Armenians’ participation in this cultural event. As I believe that such cultural events can help to bring two societies closer and contribute to the ice-breaking process. I do really hope that Armenia will take part in this song contest and will be represented the best way and it is quite possible that next year it will be Armenia that will host Eurovision music contest.
Below I would like to introduce you the viewpoints of some political, military experts and artists on “Whether Armenia should take part in Eurovision song contest 2012 in Baku or not?”
“I think in any case it would be wrong no to attend it,” said Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a military expert. He said "We should not adopt the same strategy as Azeri people do and incite hatred in everything,”.

“If Eurovision wants to punish a state, it gives the first prize, so that that nation would be terrorized. That is to say, we have been saved,” said Arthur Shahnazaryan.
Deputy Director of the Caucasus Institute, political scientist Sergey Minasyan thinks, Armenia’s participation in this contest is convenient from a political viewpoint. If Armenia withdraws its participation, it will give Azerbaijan somewhat he billed “propaganda dividends”. However, Minasyan would like to see a participant from Nagorno Karabakh attend this contest.
Ara Gevorgyan, a composer, thinks there is no reason why Armenia should not take part in this song contest,  saying that“If sportsmen go, why should culture activists not go?”.

Contributed by: Arevik Hayrapetyan, Forgotten Diaries blogger from Armenia
Check out this article and more at

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Think you know everything about the 'Emprezz'?

Emprezz describes herself as a passionate, benevolent entrepreneur and media personality. She focuses on making ideas tangible realities.

How many of us can say we've started and successfully run a resturant (alongside husband Steven) ; a Jamaican themed clothing and accessories store; manufactured and designed new card games; produced multiple shows including her newest 'Talk up Yout' which can be seen on TVJ every tuesday @6pm, and much more?  

Emprezz gave us a peek into her life before returning to Jamaica.


Emprezz spent most of her high school years in Australia and during that time she was a member of a pop singing group called 'Cherry' and used her middle name 'Camielle'. The Group was signed to Sony Records and Warner Music. It was during this time that Emprezz aka Camielle 'found herself' asking many self revealing questions in the multicultural environment such as "Who am I?" "Where do I belong?" She spent two years touring with the girls in 'Cherry' before moving on.

Emprezz also had two records on the charts in Japan respectively called "Passenger 7" and "Lady Traffic".

1st Generation (CD) ~ Passenger 7  (Artist) Cover Art
Emprezz "Camielle" member of the group "Passenger 7"

Empress believes strongly in “the collective security of the Negro race” and that we must all “ Work hard, pay dues, don’t expect things in life, nothing really is given, earn it!”


“Walk with confidence, don’t be afraid to take risks, it’s the only way you’re going to know”

Make-up Artist applies finishing touches to Emprezz Golding's Makeup

Emprezz's take on World Peace

“ I can’t see world peace in my generation. How can there be world peace when people are so individualistic? When there is wealth there cant be peace, if there is inequality there wont be peace, people will feel anger due to history and come back for revenge. With wealth, monopoly and inequaity we will always be searching for world peace”
“My struggle and fight is for peace within myself, and within my circle. We cannot have world peace in Africa where intra African resource conflicts abound, and where most resources are controlled by the West."

"Big up to those fighting for the cause, there is a lot to do!"

Monday, 6 February 2012

Meet Renee McDonald, Jamaican Dancer on the Move

Cover Photo

Marketing Assistant by day, Dance Teacher, Choreographer and member of Tony Wilson's 'The Company Dance Theatre' in all other time available, Renee McDonald continues to make great strides in the Jamaican Dance Scene.

A very Talented young lady, Renee would love to throw caution to the wind and be a full time professional dancer. It's a dream so many artists share, and often a tough decision to make especially in developing economies such as Jamaica's where its extremely difficult to earn a sustainable livelihood. Renee loves Jamaica 100% and would not want to be dancing anywhere in the mean time she continues to make it all happen.

Her Cultural Icon is undoubtably Bob Marley, and she expresses that it's undeniable that he's the best and none can compare! Today would have been the icon's 67th Birthday and we recognize his contribution to the Cultural Fabric of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the World!

Views from the Artist on:


"It's possible, but does it really make sense to say it's possible if its not realistic? If everyone just woke up and decided to have peace, that would bring about peace....but it's not realistic" (Renee sighs)


"If you don't dream big, you're going to live small"

"Never feel guilty about resting"

"Be nice to people"

"Work hard and don't let other people say you can't do something"

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Don Cornelius: The 'Soul' in 'Soul Train'

Soul Train's Don Cornelius Dead at 75 of Apparent Suicide
 Don Cornelius, Source: OMG!
Don Cornelius, Source:

Longtime 'Soul Train' host Don Cornelius.
Don Cornelius, Source: USA Today
Source: Soul
'Soul Train' debuted in 1971, and revolutionized the world of television. It brought urban African American Culture to an international stage and made it fun to dance dance dance!!! The Executive Producer and visionary who created this phenomenon was Don Cornelius. Cornnelius died today February 1st in what appears to be a suicide. We wish his family and friends well. Soul Train will live on!