‘’ an ka chonjé lè’m té tou piti
an koumansman lè’m té k’ay lékòl,
mèt lékòl té ka bat zanfan
an lakou lékòl pou langaj kweyòl”
The song also highlights the fact that Kweyol is now widely accepted today and that it is now the head corner stone in the building of a new Dominican identity.
“Ek jòdi langaj kwéyòl pa asé pou yo,
ou wè langaj la jòdi sé lò pou yo…..
wòch mason wifizé, sé y ki li bèl an kay la”.
A diminutive man but with a strong voice, a humble person but with a big heart, Pierre Labassiere hailed from a small rural community called Good Hope located on the East Coast of Dominica. This community has a strong Kalinago heritage and a rich creole culture built up by persons who had emigrated from Martinique centuries before. From a musical standpoint Pierre Labassiere’s repertoire concentrated on cadence lypso music and he participated in cadence lypso competitions held in recent years in an effort to revive the popular 70s genre. He had a unique voice, easily recognizable, a voice that rang with a sense of sincerity. Mentored by band colleague Chesterfield Seraphine, he went on to become the lead singer and voice of the group Song Masters.
Pierre Labassiere was not only a musician. He was one of the pillars in the Good Hope community for well over three decades. He was a farmer, community leader and political activist. As a dedicated community man, he served on the village council of Good Hope as Chairman and as a councilor for many years. As a farmer, he specialized in the production of cassava farine. His farine product was deemed one of the best on the island. He was in fact journeying to Roseau to deliver some farine to a client when he met his demise.
Politically, he was what we call a soldier, a conscious brother, a veteran. He is a child of the seventies as they say, a child of the revolution. No doubt the political developments of the seventies not least among them the strike on the Castle Bruce Estate in which estate workers rose up against a British entity, the Colonial Development Corporation (CDC) which owned large tracts of land in Dominica, would serve to shape his development and philosophy. He was involved in the Dominica Liberation Movement (DLM), a left-wing political party and later, in the newly regrouped Dominica Labour Party under the leadership of Mike Douglas and later Rosie Douglas. In more recent years, he was pivotal to the Labour Party campaigning and victories in his constituency under the leadership of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. Pierre Labassiere remained firm in his political convictions; he never wavered, right to the end.
No doubt his political convictions and involvement influenced his world view, his music and his dedication to his community and its development. A true patriot, he will be long remembered as the voice of that great song Wòch Mason Wifizé which has become a hymn. a battle cry in the struggle to defend kwéyòl. Pierre Labassiere was laid to rest on November 7th 2020.