The Nevis Heritage Village hosted Culturama on July 21 to identify the history and culture the festival has been created to celebrate. Visitors wandered through homes that lay untouched from the Amerindian times up through the 1950s, and sampled foods crucial to Nevis’ history. The event also featured live music and traditional dances to help remind everyone what we are celebrating when we celebrate Culturama.
The Heritage Day was the second of three open days at the Heritage Village established this year to provide an opportunity for everyone on the island to come and take a look at how far Nevis has come. Outhouses and chamber-pots still sit in the areas of these homes that are authentically Nevisian.
The event was another pre-Culturama celebration, one that had a much different feel than a fete at the cultural village. Here, one could see how the living style has progressed on Nevis throughout its history. This event packed as much history as it could into an afternoon, with vendors selling handmade jewellry and home-cooked chicken on the sidelines of a group of demonstrations about Nevis’ past.
“The Nevisian Heritage Village is one of the most important sites that we manage, because it encapsulates the housing heritage of our island,” said John Hanley, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism. “We host these open days so that people can get further exposure to the culture and the heritage of our island.”
Cornmeal and fish and baked bread were prepared, with the bread being made in the traditional communal ovens that were once a necessity on Nevis. In addition, the Nevis Cultural Development Foundation teamed up with the festival organizers to give youth a chance to learn about where they came from. The foundation has hosted a summer camp in which children could learn traditional dances, masquerades and music of Nevis and they came in full gear to express what they learned to attendees at the event.
“One of the most important things they learn is not to take what they have today for granted,” Hanley said. “When they come to a place like this and they realize what people had to do to collect water, when they see some of the houses from back in the day and compare that to the modern dwellings that they have, they will get a better appreciation for what they have.”
Nevis’ heritage is important to understand for the youth on the island to ensure it is not forgotten, and summer camps working with programs like Culturama have shown their are ways to keep culture in the mind of Nevisians. This event also showcased Nevisian heritage’s ability to give visitors of the island a different experience.
“One of the reasons why people travel is to gain new and different experiences, so people wouldn’t necessarily want to come here to get a KFC experience, because that is something they can get anywhere,” Hanley said. “Visitors want something that they can take back with them, so if they come to the Nevisian Heritage Village and see little children drumming, taste bread and butter from a traditional oven, those are things they will talk about.”