Trinidad and Tobago puts on spectacular show for CARIFESTA XIV opening
The Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain Trinidad and Tobago came alive on Friday night with a spectacular display of elaborate performances paying homage to the culture and customs of each Member State and Associate Member of CARICOM.
This was the nucleus of the opening ceremony for the fourteenth staging of the Caribbean Region’s premier cultural festival, the Caribbean Festival of Arts, CARIFESTA.
Prior to the ceremony, there was a parade around the Savannah with participating countries showcasing their various cultural offerings such as dancing, singing, body painting, cosplaying and drumming.The entire scene had an atmosphere of fun, creativity and excitement.
The parade culminated with an official ceremony where Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, was present. Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, and CARICOM Secretary General, Amb. Irwin LaRocque, were also there and each gave brief speeches.
Amb. LaRocque underscored the importance of culture to the Region. He said that the transformative power of culture to promote social cohesion, respect for diversity, and resilience-building, was increasingly important for CARICOM. According to him, culture played a key role, as both enabler and driver of the Region’s development. This, he said, made CARIFESTA an important component in developing the Community’s creative and cultural industries.
“Our Heads of Government, at their Twenty-Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting in The Bahamas in February 2016, expressed their clear commitment to leverage the human and cultural assets of the Community and support the development of the Region’s creative economy, for job creation, growth, and youth engagement,” he stated.
The CARICOM Secretary-General also used the opportunity to thank those who were involved in the planning and execution of the event and commended them for a job well done.
Dr. Rowley welcomed his Caribbean brothers and sisters to the opening and to his country. He said CARIFESTA could not have been better placed on the calendar of Trinidad and Tobago as it was happening right after Emancipation and just before the country’s Independence Day celebrations.
“It’s a showcase of our food, our dance our songs, our artistes, our intellect and our indomitable Caribbean spirit,” Prime Minister Rowley said.
He encouraged everyone, to see each other, mix together, make friends and share their talents because they were “at home in Trinidad and Tobago”.
“Memories are made of this and I trust that you will leave our shores with very pleasant memories,” Dr. Rowley stated.
Minister Gadsby-Dolly in her speech shared that on a personal and professional level, CARIFESTA had been one of her most exhilarating journeys. She said she was proud of the dedication of her team, including the Host Country Management Committee with support from the CARICOM Secretariat.
“I invite you to open your minds and souls to the resplendence of the Region’s most prolific cultural expressions. Allow the memories of CARIFESTA XIV to overwhelm your senses, inspire your creativity, challenge your intellect and take you to a higher state of existence,” she said.
This is the fourth time that Trinidad and Tobago is hosting the Festival. It is being hosted under the theme “The Tangible and Intangible, Connect, Share and Invest”. The first CARIFESTA was held in 1972. It was envisioned and spearheaded by Guyana’s then President, Forbes Burnham.The last host of the Festival was Barbados in 2017. Antigua and Barbuda will host the Festival in 2021.