About benna …

Is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?
Don’t sing benna in Sunday school
but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school;

(From ‘Girl’, by Jamaica Kincaid)

Benna (or bennah) is an uptempo Antiguan and Afro-Caribbean style of percussion, dance and song that was introduced following the prohibition of slavery. During the period of French colonial rule, African slaves were prohibited from celebrating in Carnival; they continued to do so, secretly, at home. Songs usually focused on scandalous and bawdy rumors and gossip, and were in a call-and-response form with a leader and an audience. Benna’s popularity and similarity to calypso helped make the island receptive to that genre’s introduction. By the beginning of the 20th century, it had become a method of folk communication, disseminating news and reports from across the island.

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