Colin Freeman, son of cultural icon on Nevis David Freeman (Sylvester Josiah Meade photo) 
Cultural icon in St. Kitts and Nevis David Freeman of Gingerland (Sylvester Josiah Meade photo)
The Hon. Mark Brantley, premier of Nevis
Colin Freeman, son of cultural icon on Nevis David Freeman (Sylvester Josiah Meade photo)

Nevis officials invite public to join celebration to honour cultural icon’s life

From the NIA

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – Abonaty Liburd, executive director of the Culturama Secretariat, wants the public to join in the celebration of the life of cultural icon David Freeman. The cultural presentation will be held at the Hardtimes Playing Field in Gingerland June 9.
The Ministry of Culture, through the secretariat and the Nevis Cultural Development Foundation (NCDF), are putting together the celebration that begins at 10 a.m. It will lead to the official send off for Freeman at 11:30 a.m.

“We have put together some tributes that would really tell of the significant contribution that Mr. Freeman would have made to the development of culture, Culturama and the change that he brought to the cultural landscape here on Nevis and so, we have some 15 tributes,” Liburd said. “I want [people] to be there to enjoy the cultural entertainment, the cultural display that we have put together to celebrate the life and contribution of the maestro the ‘real fifer’ Mr. David Freeman.”

Tributes will include performances from a combined string band, combined masquerades and a group of fifers from St. Kitts. There will also be poetry, song and steel pan music.
Liburd told the Department of Information June 6 that so far preparations for the event are on schedule and progressing smoothly. He said the ministry was ensuring that it would be a memorable and happy occasion.

Freeman, who celebrated his 90th birthday Feb. 16, passed away peacefully May 26 at his home in Gingerland. He was known as the leading fifer player in St. Kitts and Nevis, representing the federation as part of contingents at seven Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) in islands including Cuba, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname. He also represented Nevis in Canada, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, the United States Virgin Islands and Montserrat.

Colin Freeman, a son of Freeman, says the family is grateful to the Nevis Island Administration’s contribution to the home-going service and celebration of his father. “The family is very, very appreciative of the Nevis Island Administration’s assistance toward defraying the cost of the funeral and the cultural display they are putting together to honour his life and contribution to Nevis,” he said.

In response to what is the most powerful memory of his dad that will remain with him, the junior Freeman said it would be his love for the string band music. “He really loved what he did. I remember the days of him rounding up guys to play music. Sometimes they were not willing to go and he would actually sit and plead with them to play for the night. At that time, the money was not big, but he would play it for free because he loved it so much. One of the things that really stood out for me is at Christmas time, when he was sharing any proceeds they got from playing string band or big drum music, he would leave himself for last. He played for the love of it, not the rewards he got from it” he said.

“This administration will participate in a tangible way in the funeral of Mr. Freeman,” said the Hon. Mark Brantley, “and, in so doing, demonstrate our own commitment and obligation to honour his memory as one of those who contributed much to the life and times to the island of Nevis.” He said he charged Minister Eric Evelyn to make the necessary plans. Brantley described Freeman as a player beyond anything one had seen in St. Kitts and Nevis and who had carried the tradition and cultural art form of fife playing throughout his life.

The cultural icon was the owner and founder of the Honey Bees String Band and the Joy Bells Big Drum, and was selected in 1999 to be the patron of Culturama 25. The festival, now in its 44th year, is the foremost cultural festival on Nevis.