STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE, YOUTH AFFAIRS, FISHERIES AND AGRICULTURE
HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019
Mister Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to update the people of the Virgin Islands on the plans for our emancipation festival activities, which are progressing well. The executive committee and various sub-committees have been working hard to ensure that we have a quality 65th festival.
By now, individuals would have learned about the lineup of international and local artists who will entertain patrons of these activities along with the various cultural activities that we will all have a chance to participate in. Much interest has been generated in this festival, and many Virgin Islanders abroad have expressed the desire to come home. Persons from neighboring islands have also shown a great deal of excitement, and we can expect a great deal of support.
The finances of festival remain a concern. The committee has taken measures to generate additional revenue to support activities as well as making efficient use of resources without compromising the quality of the events. They have centralized the administration of finances to ensure spending is under control. I will keep an eagle eye on the situation because it is an area I take very seriously.
Also, I am keen to ensure that our festivities have a strong focus on culture. I was pleased that the parade committee under the leadership of Ottley Hodge chose to honour a number of participants in our festival. Myrone Rubaine, Kenisha Sprauve, the Extreme Band, The Heritage Dancers, Jasmine Brewley, and the Lashing Dogs were all recognized for their contributions over the years. This is a component I would like to see remain in our slate of festival activities.
Carrot bay has always had a strong cultural component with their cultural fiesta. In addition to their customary activities, they will be having a traditional market day, where local produce, cultural treats will be on sale, they will have a cultural dance competition, and they will make cassava bread on site, among other activities.
East End/ Long Look festival also has a traditionally strong focus on history and culture. In addition to the annual activities, including our emancipation church service, we will be introducing new ways of highlighting our heritage and culture. We will have a festival of culture and praise, which will include cultural demonstrations, plait pole, mocko jumbies, cultural food, fungi music, among other activities. There will also be a heritage village in Long Look as another new addition to the festivities.
In Road Town we will have two culture nights and the return of the Calypso competition, which will complement the cultural food fair and other ongoing cultural activities.
I must mention the ongoing work of the Heritage Month Committee, which continues to honour our God and our ancestors with a freedom march and emancipation service followed by a sunrise service.
At the conclusion of this year’s festivities, I will examine other ways in which we can strengthen the focus on heritage and culture. While things are by no means perfect, we will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, as my Premier always says. We will fix and go at the same time.
Mr. Speaker, let me encourage the public never to lose sight of the true reason for these celebrations. This is not just a fete or a carnival. This is an annual tradition we engage in to recognize our ancestors successful struggle against the vicious institution of slavery. We must praise God, dance, sing, eat, drink and be merry, in reflection of the divine favour and mercy we have benefitted from since our victory over the wicked institution of slavery. Mr. Speaker, people of the Virgin Islands, may we have a safe and enjoyable festival.