Nevis: William Wentworth Dore, affectionately known as “Zhumbye Di Ggii”, was born on November 28th 1948, to Lucina and the late Ralph Dore. He is the second of four children.
Young Zhumbye grew up with his family in Charlestown, first at Happy Hill Alley then at Low Street in the building that now houses the Harlem Shelter Bar & Lounge.
He received his childhood education at the Charlestown Boys’ School before relocating to St Kitts, where he attended the Basseterre Boys School. Upon his return to Nevis, he enrolled in the Charlestown Secondary School.
A day in the life of young Zhumbye saw him picking ‘hog meat’, heading water and playing his favourite sports – cricket, netball and football. He also enjoyed hiking and drama.
He was active in the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, serving as an Altar Boy, a member of the choir and the Anglican Young People’s Association (A.Y.P.A.). He was also a Boy Scout.
Zhumbye developed a keen interest in Drama while in high school and enjoyed playing various roles whether as Shakespeare or a comedian. Upon leaving school he became a member of the Nevis Dramatic and Cultural Society (N.E.D.A.C.S.), the group that established the Culturama festivities on Nevis.
Zhumbye often listened to the calypsos of the day that were played on radio. It was therefore no surprise that he developed a love for the calypso art form. He was particularly fond of the Mighty Chalkdust particularly his wit, slow cadence and lyrics on all kinds of topics. In 1972 when Chalkdust released “Juba Doo Bai”, he thought that the title would be a really good name for a calypsonian and so he created his moniker, ZHUMBYE DI GGII from that song.
Zhumbye became a fervent participant in the Carnival Calypso Competitions held as part of the Christmas Festivities on Nevis in the early 70s. Two of his most popular songs were ‘Granny’ and ‘Where do we go from here’. In fact, in 1974 “Where do we go from here” won him the Carnival Calypso crown on Nevis. This song was however tainted with controversy and was immediately banned because of its lyrical content which criticized the then Premier, Robert L. Bradshaw, for not allowing Nevisians more control over their financial affairs and the right to self-governance. In Zhumbye’s opinion, Nevisians were very talented, quite capable and highly qualified to handle their own affairs.
The Christmas Festivities on Nevis precipitated the formation of the Bazzard Boys comprising persons such as Zhumbye, Bahowlah, Shacks and others. Decked in outlandish costumes such as dresses and accompanied by a String Band, they would traverse the island with heavily powdered faces, entertaining residents with songs about scandals of the day or even individuals in the community.
These renditions in song were called ‘toasts’ and the tone ranged from very tame to brutally harsh but they were a hit. As a show of appreciation for their performances. Zhumbye remembers being rewarded with food, drinks and / or money which they would use to host a big party at the end of the festivities.
With the advent of Culturama, The Bazzard Boys’ tradition continued and is now a special feature of the Culturama Cultural Street Parade. Their garish costumes and antics still attract a lot of attention.
Zhumbye often remarks that his two greatest joys of Culturama are the Cultural Street Parade and the Senior Calypso Contest.
On Culture and Culturama, Zhumbye opines, “Culturama is our thing, and we must expect that it would get bigger and bigger. Some say that we are getting out of the ‘cultural’ aspect of it, but I however do not subscribe to that because if you stay in the cultural aspect of it you’ll be doing the same thing every year, so we have to move up, move forward and as a matter of fact, whatever you do, whatever you portray, whatever costume you build, it’s your culture and so I have no problem with it getting bigger and bigger”.
Zhumbye now spends his days as the proprietor of the Harlem Shelter Bar & Lounge and caring his mom Lucina. He is also the owner of the world famous ‘Zola Troll Doll’. Zola is steeped in mystique. Many still remember Zola’s presence at Grove Park during those fiercely fought cricket battles between St. Kitts and Nevis and credited her for giving the Nevis Cricket Team several wins over its Kittitian counterparts.
On numerous occasions Zola was even loaned to persons for guidance on their travels overseas. Zhumbye was chosen to be the patron for Culturama 2021 but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was deferred. According to him, when he received the news about his selection, he was happy and grateful to have such an honor bestowed upon him.
His advice to the youths is that they should become more involved in poetry, plays and designing. He is also of the view that they should think big and special, be unique then build on that foundation.
In his parting words he declared “I just love Culturama and would do anything to keep the culture alive.”
On behalf of the Nevis Island Administration, the Ministry of Culture, the Nevis Cultural Development Foundation and the Nevis Culturama Committee we proudly salute William Wentworth Dore alias “Zhumbye Di Ggii” for his years of dedication towards the preservation and perpetuation of drama, calypso and street theatre on Nevis. We cherish and value your overall efforts at promoting and preserving Nevis’ rich cultural heritage.
May you have a long life and a fun filled and enjoyable Culturama 48!