Towards Carifesta 2021 in Wadadli at 40

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Remarks by the Honourable Daryll S. Matthew, MP, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister for Sports, Culture, National Festivals and the Arts at the Carifesta XIV closing ceremony in Trinidad on August 25, 2019

Over the past ten days, the Caribbean descended on Trinidad and Tobago and exhibited our uniqueness as a people – our ‘Caribbeanness.’ To borrow a few lines from the indomitable David Rudder – over the past ten days we demonstrated that we are “Caribbean people to de bone!” We demonstrated how sweet it is to love our country! We demonstrated that there is no other place in this world we would rather be! From the Bahamas in the North to Grenada in the South, from Jamaica in the West to Antigua and Barbuda in the East, we came to Trinidad and Tobago.  And we experienced the pulsating rhythms of the steelpan – the evocative movements of our dancers – the delectable taste and smells of our Caribbean cuisine – our rich history. We experienced the rich creativity of our designers, musicians and singer.  We experienced Caribbean commonality.  We experienced what is meant to be a true Caribbean family.

I believe I speak for all delegations represented here, that CARIFESTA XIV was a true success story.  I commend the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago for the superb execution of this important Caribbean exhibition.  Throughout the past ten days, we as Caribbean people were able to immerse ourselves in our rich history and commit new energies to the preservation of our culture while at the same time move in tandem with the changing times.

        For Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation, it was an experience of a lifetime and a celebration of Caribbean unity and commonality despite our geographical differences.  This was demonstrated when the legendary Len “Boogsie” Sharpe joined Antiguan and Barbudan young pannist and arranger, Khan Cordice, in an Antiguan and Barbudan classic calypso on the steelpan – NOBODY GO RUN ME by King Short Shirt which highlights not only master meeting youth, but an exposition of love of country – love for our Caribbean.

Our history and culture is rich, however we must capitalize on the technologies of our time in order to preserve this very important aspect of our civilization.  The fast pace of time and influx of other cultures into our societies present great risk to us losing our ‘Caribbeanness.’  CARIFESTA XIV presented us with the golden opportunity to set a new flame to energize our people to appreciate and develop a new affinity towards what is truly Caribbean.

       Ladies and Gentlemen: In two years’ time – in 2021, Antigua and Barbuda will have the opportunity to continue the rich tradition of showcasing the Caribbean. As Sir Edwin Carrington, Former Secretary General of CARICOM once said, and I quote: “CARIFESTA embodies Caribbean integration. It is here that the people of the region come together; co-mingle, creating one community, one people. That is integration. Further, this event strengthens the bonds between us, displays our creativity and ingenuity and demonstrates to the world the best that this region has to offer. CARIFESTA celebrates our Caribbean being in a way that no other single event can.” As Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Culture, National Festivals and the Arts, the task will be mine to welcome the Caribbean to our shores and further create one community – one people. I say further create one Caribbean – One people, because Antigua and Barbuda is the Caribbean.  No other country in the Caribbean can boast that their society is a melting pot of the Caribbean as Antigua and Barbuda is.   So in fact, we will be welcoming each one of you and others home.

For Antigua and Barbuda, hosting of CARIFESTA XV in the 40th year of our young nation’s post-Independence era, will be an opportunity for us to play a greater role in uniting and capitalizing on our Caribbean uniqueness in establishing our Caribbean as an economic and cultural powerhouse. CARIFESTA XV in Antigua and Barbuda will aim at continuing the long tradition of deepening the awareness and knowledge of our varied visions for a better Caribbean through the exhibition of the talents and skills of our peoples to each other culturally. We also believe and will fully promote the developments in communications and information technology and the media – which in themselves have their challenges, particularly to our cultural existence – however we will advance the efforts to preserve and promote our culture regionally and extra-regionally by capitalizing on the same advances in communications technologies.

South African freedom fighter and former President, Nelson Mandela once said that “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” We are a people passionate about who we are and are inextricably linked by the synergies in our culture and heritage. CARIFESTA offers us the opportunity to soar to new heights while maintaining our Caribbean heritage.

        In 2021, Antigua and Barbuda – the land of cricketing legends, Sir Viv Richards, Sir Andy Roberts and Sir Richie Richards; the nation with a people buoyed by the determination to succeed as demonstrated by our national heroes, King Court and Sir V.C. Bird Sr.; the land with beautiful white and pink sand beaches – one for every day of the year – pulsating rhythms of steelbands like Hellsgate, Harmonites and Halcyon; the land of Calypso greats, King Short Shirt, Swallow and Obstinate and soca giants, Ricardo Drue, Tian Winter and Claudette Peters; a nation with a people passionate and friendly with infectious smiles; the land of fungi and saltfish and the sumptuous taste of lobster, deer and turtle, Antigua and Barbuda in 2021 will welcome you to CARIFESTA XV as we invite you to come celebrate the rhythms and culture of the Caribbean. See you in Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean. Thank you!

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