Michele Henderson , left and Chubby Mark
Michele Henderson , left and Chubby Mark

Grand Bay, the cultural village in the south east of Dominica, is such a lucky place to be sharing the talent of Michele Henderson and Phillip "Chubby" Mark in one space and one time. Plas la beni kon kisa.

And last week, the National Commission for la Francophonie in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Alliance Française de la Dominique and the Canadian High Commissioner honoured these two national musical giants at a gala function at the Fort Young Hotel.

"We all know that Michele Henderson is an outstanding performer and constantly promotes the Creole and French language in her music locally, regionally and internationally. Also the Midnight Grovers has been there for a very long time and they too have been influential in promoting the Creole and French Languages throughout the region and internationally," said Sonia Magloire-Akpa, National Correspondent of La Francophonie.

Henderson said she was "thrilled and honoured" to receive the award since she is very passionate about the French language.

"As a child I went to Guadeloupe often and had to play with the French children and by playing with them I started to discover my love for the French language as well as in school when I studied French at the Dominica Grammar School," she told the Sun. "However, when I really learned French was when I began performing in Guadeloupe and Martinique and having to interact with other musicians and so from there I had to join the knowledge I gained from school and that of when I was a little girl to communicate with the other artistes and from those experiences it improved my knowledge of the French language."

Chubby said: "I was born in Grand Bay and the people in Grand Bay love speaking the Creole language and from there is where I started speaking creole. I believe Creole is a beautiful language because it is an African language. As a boy when I was in school they didn't teach about the African culture which I believe was important."

He added: "It is a good thing to sing in Creole because that language came from our African heritage and people in Africa still speak Creole. Africa is more creole than English, there are other languages too but the Creole is still there. I also believe that in Dominica we should make Creole language the first language and make English our second language. I also think the Creole language should be embraced more like it is in St Lucia, anywhere you go in St Lucia you will hear people speaking Creole because it is a rich language."

Francophonie Month is being held this year under the theme "Jeunes, Environement et Climat" (Youth, Environment and Climate).

As part of the activities for this year, five long-serving, outstanding primary school French teachers will be honoured. They are Nalda Morgan-Nicholas (Warner); Daphney Phillip (Tete Morne); Solange Bazil (Penville); Hannah Massicott (Goodwill) and Genevieve Roberts (Grand Bay).