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.