Martinique Carnival 2024: Nèg gwo siwo, a tradition that grows in video

Martinique Carnival 2024: Nèg gwo siwo, a tradition that grows in video

This phenomenon grows a little more every year. An emblematic figure of the Martinique Carnival, Nèg gwo siwo is honored by associations. The audience seems to have been seduced. More than 1,000 people wearing tassels marched through the streets of Fort-de-France on Mardi Gras (February 13).

“Free the siwo,” chant Neg gwo siwo on this artery in downtown Fort-de-France. There are several hundred of them, their heads bound and their bodies covered in a black, sugar-scented mixture.

As they approach, the road is automatically scanned. No one wants to be touched, or even touched, for fear of getting dirty. For this reason, the task of the Neg gwo siwo in the past was to organize passers-by in order to allow the groups to move forward.

I told myself that this is something you should do at least once in your life. Every year I would see him and say why not.

The Neg gwo siwo in Fort-de-France.

I love that ! It is a way of expression, freedom and showing our identity… We drop the masks and this is just happiness.

Several hours before their arrival, the group prepared on the French beach. The apron is no longer there, but the participants are still dressed almost naked. Bra, shorts or even underwear, black is the key word.

I chose this outfit to be comfortable, comfortable, and free to move. It holds a black color because the syrup is likely to stick or stain. I also want to have as few clothes as possible to get as much leeway on the body as possible and to represent Neg gwo siwo as best as possible.

A thick syrup is applied to the participants' bodies.

To get this fragrant dress, two steps are required. First, cover yourself with crushed charcoal. The association distributes small ready-made bags.
Next, little hands apply a very thick and sticky battery syrup which traps soot and gives a shiny appearance.

Huge barrels of precious “gwo siwo” were prepared in advance. But we will not know more, as the exact recipe is kept secret by the association.

Over the years, we've worked on our drink to make it more convenient and attract more people to our cause. It comes out with the water. We usually take a French sea bath for initial cleansing and then a shower to finish rinsing ourselves off.

Samuel Cronje, “Samu”, leader of the Mado Sioux

Neg Gwo Siwo setting on La Française beach.

For the 2024 edition, the enthusiasm is certain. According to the association, 1,200 bracelets were sold on Mardi Gras Day alone.

On the surface we have the impression that it is just for entertainment, but we are passing on tradition and this includes Neg gwo siwo history, identity and the desire to pass on the history of our ancestors. On Shrove days, covering yourself with drink is also a way to commemorate and fulfill this duty of remembrance.

Legend has it that an escaped slave covered himself in goo siu in order to escape the plantation and find freedom in the forest. Having become an homage in the Carnival of the Antilles and Guyana, a similar figure is called “Mas-a-Kongo” in Guadeloupe and “Nèg'marron” in Guyana. For the latter the mixture consists of coal and oil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *