By Kadeem Joseph
Many of Antigua and Barbuda’s best and brightest young citizens yesterday welcomed the invitation to participate in Monday’s vibrant and festive ‘showcase village’, an event at Government House which saw the red carpet rolled out for Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Among those present and participating in the cultural and artistic showcase were members of the award-winning Honey Bee Theatre ensemble, who performed a captivating slew of folk songs and tales, and ring games to entertain not only the visiting royals but also the host of dignitaries who attended the ceremony.
Shaquana Simpson, President of the Honey Bee Theatre, told Observer “it felt good to be back out to perform again and it was very exciting to be with my other performer friends”.
She added, “I was just happy to perform knowing that people from so far away can come and see us and enjoy it.”
Also on display was award-winning fashion designer Shem Henry of Henre’ Designs who said he was not only “at a loss for words” but also described the experience as a validating one.
“This has allowed me the opportunity to not only showcase young Antiguan talent, but to also showcase creativity at its best, and fashion as a career and not just a hobby,” he said.
The Princess Margaret School Steel Orchestra played melodic background music for the walkthrough at Government House, which also featured a vibrant parade of the nation’s national symbols with the aid of several students from participating secondary schools across the country.
The Earl and Countess took time to converse with the country’s top performers for the 2021 academic year, including Alaine Challenger of Grace Christian Academy who excelled at the Grade 6 National Assessment; top Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) student, Pia Nichols of the Baptist Academy of Antigua; and the country’s Island Scholar for 2021, Mia Symister, who attended the Antigua State College.
“It was a very lovely event. The showcase was such a well-executed display of our culture that made me quite proud of our country. The organisers did a really good job and I felt honoured to be invited to participate,” Nichols told Observer.
Also on display were works from local writers including Brenda Lee Browne, artwork and the country’s national dress from cultural icon Heather Doram, and a film focus from HAMA Productions, which was represented by Mitzi Allen.
The work of the St John Hospice, the Halo Foundation and the extraordinary story of visually impaired woman, Lisa Hixon, were also on display in the showcase village.