Charlestown, Nevis – Culturama held its official opening ceremony July 27. Though the event itself ran too late for print, the Observer was able to sit down with the Culturama committee’s chairman, Charmaine Howell, to discuss the festival’s opening night. Results of the Peachicks Junior Kaiso Competition will be available online at www.thestkittsnevisobserver.com. Two weeks of liming, fetes and competitions preceded the official opening ceremony, which was held at the Cultural Village in Charlestown.
Now that the festival is officially underway, contests, cricket matches, concerts and much more will be held nightly across Nevis from July 27 until the Culturama 43 Street Parade Aug. 8. Event organizers have spent months preparing for this festival and with the recent improvement of the Cultural Village, they hope this to be the biggest Culturama ever.
“Lots of work, lots of hours went into to something that we hope will tie the historical value of our culture and bring that to our people,” Howell said. “We want to take the familiar and put a little historical twist on it in terms of what things mean. Things like our masqueraders, where that costume came from, why we carry on this dance, why has it lasted as long as it has, little things like that are what we’re trying to interject into the presentation.”
This event has always stressed the heritage on the island of Nevis and the opening of Culturama continues to stress the importance of remembering where the island came from while celebrating how far the island has come. Howell used the last remaining string band as an example: Every village on the island used to have its own string band, but the numbers have declined steadily and now there is only one living string band left on the island.
“We’re trying to highlight the things we need to do to keep our culture alive and active,” she said. “We want people to understand what their Nevisian heritage means to them. Then we move from the historical elements into the evolution of culture and look at where it’s brought us today.”
To exemplify that, the opening ceremony had the Miss CSS Pageant contestants as well as the Talented Youth Pageant hopefuls will be performing the legend of Eden Brown to mix the old with the new. This festival is different in that the organizers actively tried not to emulate larger festivals on other islands, instead trying to find a balance between popular culture and Nevisian heritage. New twists on the festival such as the “Wet Fete” July 21 was an exploration of that concept.
“To me, it’s all about enjoyment and celebration and having a good time, and let’s not forget that and let’s not feel like there’s only one way of doing that,” Howell said. “We can celebrate in many different expressions and there’s hopefully something for everyone, which is essentially what the festival is aiming to provide.”
Howell cited pre-Culturama activities as an exciting indicator of the potential of this festival. Before it had even officially opened, people had been coming out in droves to check out events at the Cultural Village, such as the semifinals for the Soca Monarch and Senior Kaiso Fiesta, which has organizers ready for the next two weeks.
Check back next week for more information on the specifics of Culturama’s opening night, as well as coverage of all things Culturama.