As Culturama heats up this year, it seems fitting to pay tribute to the late Calvin (Cabo) Howell, one of the masterminds of this grand occasion some 40 years ago.
It is good to take a backward look to the time when Mr. Howell led a group of creative fellow Nevisians to form the Nevis Dramatic and Cultural Society. Cabo was a brilliant dramatist and Tyrone O’Flaherty was a brilliant composer of calypsos. Together these two men and their talented fellow pioneers made the first Culturama a memorable event which would last through the ages.
This society provided the opportunity for talented Nevisians in a variety of areas to display their energies to the delight of the Nevis public. When the first Culturama was organized it was Cabo’s intention to highlight the Nevis dramatic creative talent and at the same time recapture some of the disappearing facets of the culture of Nevis.
Mr. Howell had the vision to develop this concept of Nevis culture to coincide with late July and early August and to make the day known as August Monday the climax of this activity.
Since August Monday is the time when black people remember the great day in 1834 when Africans were freed from plantation slavery, Mr. Howell and his pioneers must be credited with the vision to understand that the early days of the month of August would be significant in the lives and history of the Nevis people.
As things turned out Culturama has become a matter not only for the people of Nevis, but also for the young people of St. Kitts, who find in it an occasion to abandon themselves to fun and amusement.
It has also become a tourist attraction and a good source of revenue for the Nevis entrepreneurs.
Understandably Culturama is not exactly the way Cabo Howell thought it up, and he would be just a little non-plussed at the omission of the dramatic component of the occasion. It is easy to imagine that if he was still with us, Culturama would have included a drama festival with participants from all over the island as well as St. Kitts.
Calvin can rest quietly, and smile at the fact that the Nevis people have not let him down but have added value to his humble concept. For example the craft exhibition which he envisaged has become a grand food fair which offers creative and resourceful Nevisians a chance to display their ingenuity to the rest of the world.
It is so difficult to measure the quality of the contribution which Cabo made to his beloved Nevis that all that we may do is say that he was a true Nevisian.
As a true child of Nevis, he was the embodiment of all that is culturally good about Nevis – its uniqueness, its resilience and its traditions, neighborliness and the fear of God.
Like the pioneers who helped to rebuild Nevis in the many years after the lost glory of the Queen of the Caribees, Cabo Howell belongs to the ages and will always adorn the landscape of the beautiful island which he loved.