Traditional music set for a comeback

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By Machela Osagboro

Two traditional musical instruments that featured in the country’s folk music of days gone by are set to make a comeback.

The ‘Antigua fife’ – a flute-like instrument similar to a piccolo – and the ‘Barbuda banjo’ were crafted by hand and were a regular part of social and cultural events in years past.

Recently appointed acting director of the Cultural Development Division, Khan Cordice, plans to reintroduce them to local youths in a bid to reignite a sense of pride in native folk culture.

“We are planning to see how we can rebuild interest in playing the fife, and the fife bands within Antigua and Barbuda; this will add to the value of our cultural practices,” he said.

He told Observer he also hopes to breathe new life into the Barbuda banjo.

“My team and I are going to venture out to Barbuda to see how we can get involved,” he said, emphasising his desire to showcase the sister isle’s rich history and culture.

Cordice said he had held several conversations with cultural officer Vernon “Goldilocks” Griffith who is already carrying out school sessions teaching students how to play the banjo. This is set to be expanded to teach those interested how to build it too.

Cordice, an internationally-renowned steel band arranger and performer, also spoke of the need for proper marketing of cultural events and the development of “strong fraternities” to push the sector.

He said that he and his technical planning committee have already met to devise plans to raise cultural awareness among citizens – and Carifesta 2021 is at the forefront of this.

The new acting director said Caricom consultants were on the ground yesterday finalising plans for the hotly anticipated regional festival being hosted by Antigua and Barbuda next year for the first time. He said the consultants had praised the country’s readiness for the major event.

“We are at the stage where we are really looking at venues, we have already earmarked some and some of the things that need to be done to the venues. The consultants on the ground are absolutely amazed by the character of some of the venues that we have,” Cordice added.

The new acting director was named two months after Annette Aflak was appointed director of Carifesta 2021.

Cordice had been the deputy director of the cultural development division for six months.

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