…Guyana steals spotlight at opening night
Following an unfortunate delay in the commencement of the Caribbean’s major festival as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey, Barbados on Sunday came to life as Carifesta XIII kicked off with a grand display of culture and talent from across the region.
The Queens Park in Kensington Oval Bridgetown, Barbados was ignited by a colourful parade as participating countries in this, the 13th edition of CARIFESTA took to the regional stage to displayed their cultural traditions while adorn in costumes of their national colours.
Attending the opening ceremony of CARIFESTA XIII were the hosting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart along with the Secretary-General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, as well as government members and other officials of each of the participating countries.
While taking to the stage to raise the curtains on this highly anticipated regional celebration, Barbadian Minister of Culture Stephon Lashley, posited that CARIFESTA XIII will be remembered as a turning point in the Region’s quest to further economic diversity and a time for deepening cultural ties within the Region.
Adding to that, Lashley in a reminder to the gathering highlighted that the festival was birthed by Caribbean Literary Artists who advocated for the event becoming a reality years prior. On that note he relayed, “Guyana hosted the first event and we salute Mr. Forbes Burnham for leading the way as the first host. Guyana has always been a strong representative at the event and they must be celebrated.”
Echoing the sentiments of the Minster was the CARICOM Secretary General who told the opening ceremony that the arts is a cornerstone of the regional integration movement, and a force that binds, inspires us, and defines CARICOM in a unique way.
As such he noted, CARIFESTA aids in promoting a regional identity while strengthening ties among the countries.
Moreover, Ambassador LaRocque said Barbados’ hosting of CARIFESTA XIII demonstrated in a tangible way, the country’s recognition of the significant contribution that culture and the creative industries can make to economic and social development of Member States. He continued by saying it reaffirms the country’s commitment to CARICOM and to regional integration.
“The cultural flagship, CARIFESTA is a highly-valued Caricom event that is near and dear to our hearts. Since its inception in 1972 in Guyana, it has given us a regional platform where we can share and exchange, showcase our talents,” the Secretary-General expressed.
This is the second time that this mega cultural festival is being hosted in the land of flying fish as Barbados also took on the festivities for CARIFESTA IV in 1981.
CARIFESTA XIII is expected to run for ten days but is off to a late start due to the tropical storm.
Nevertheless, a delegation of about 60 Guyanese have journey to the island and have bee representing Guyana with outstanding performances at this edition of the biannual regional platform.
Tabled on the official agenda for CARIFESTA XIII is a list of over 500 events to be hosted at twenty-five venues throughout the island of Barbados. The celebrations will reflect the theme for this; the 13th observance of the Caribbean festival, which has been established as, “Assert Our Culture and Celebrate Ourselves.”