Monday, April 15, 2024

SEEN UP NORTH: Bajans get a taste of 50th


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AN extravaganza, Barbados 48th anniversary of independence.

In two years, Barbados, once labelled a decade or so ago, by then United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, as a “country that punches above its weight” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Independence.

Much has changed since then as the country’s economy went into a tailspin and a cloud descended over its future growth and development.

Still, Barbados is planning for its historic golden jubilee well in advance. Last weekend it staged a dry run, a sample of what may be in store in 2016 for Barbadians in New York. The occasion was part of the 48th Independence anniversary celebrations

“We are already beginning to consider what can be done for the 50th anniversary celebrations,” said Dr Donna Hunte-Cox, the new consul general who assumed duties in New York about three months ago, replacing Lennox Price.

“We want the diaspora to be fully engaged in our plans. It must be inclusive, reaching out to a wide cross section of the community.”

As a prelude, the consulate general staged an “Independence extravaganza,” in New York City which has the largest single Bajan population in North America, an estimated 40 000-plus souls and when it was over, the experiment as a cultural and trade showcase proved to be a success, earning upbeat reviews from participants.

“It was a very good effort,” said Jessica Odle-Baril, a former consul general during the last Barbados Labour Party Administration.

“It’s important that people have the opportunity to celebrate their country and to, in a real sense enjoy a taste of Barbados, both literally and figuratively through its cuisine, dance, song, fashion and other aspects of its culture. I was happy to be a part of it and look forward to next year and the year after that when we celebrate our 50th anniversary.”

Price, the consul general appointed in 2008 by the Thompson Administration, agreed.

“I enjoyed it. I think it was successful,” was the way Price put it. “As a first extravaganza, I thought it went well.”

Hunte-Cox explained a committee planned the six-hour event at the George W. Wingate High School, a sprawling educational centre on Kingston where touring Barbadian drama and musical groups put on performances several years ago. The extravaganza consisted of a trade expo and a cultural showcase.

The business-oriented  programme gave artistes, professionals and other entrepreneurs such as jewellers, attorneys, caterers, authors of books and other publications and health food suppliers as well as educational institutions and producers of arts and crafts a chance to market their goods and services.

Barbadian businessman, Steven Legal, who owns and runs one of Brooklyn’s largest funeral homes, participated in the expo, even displaying an empty open casket.

“Death is the end stage of life and it’s something we all have to deal with at some time as individuals and as families. We thought we would inform Barbadians about our services, our familiarity with Barbadian and other Caribbean customs and how we meet those funeral needs,” explained Legall.

Dr Humphrey Crookendale, a Barbadian who is dean of the Metropolitan College’s School of Public Affairs and Administration in Manhattan, said that his school decided to participate because it wanted to reach more Barbadian students.

“It’s important that more Barbadians know of the quality education we provide,” he said.

The Barbados Cancer Association of America  USA Inc., which is leading an effort to establish a hospice in Barbados and is raising funds to help finance the project, established its presence promoting the venture.

Carlton Murrell, a leading artist whose paintings are in private art collections and in galleries, displayed some of his work, and Anderson Pilgrim, a curator of art shows who markets Barbadian arts and crafts, both said that it was important that people saw some of what Barbadians were creating.

Of course, there wouldn’t be a successful Barbadian event of that kind without cou-cou, rice and peas, turn-overs, flying fish, beef stew, conkies, ham and cheese cutters and other Bajan delicacies on sale.

“It was vital that people have a taste of Barbados,” said Hunte-Cox.

The cultural presentation featured music, poetry and other literary readings, dance, comedy, and performances by three bands, including the Cutting Edge band and fashion shows by Jewel Shannon and Fontaine Archer who added a new fresh dimension to the overall show. So too did the comedian, Sinck, the show’s MC.

“The afternoon brought back traditions of Barbados,” said Shannon.

Hunte-Cox believed it gave Barbadians a sampling of NIFCA.

The various elements all made it an enjoyable Barbadian festival, she added.

A thanksgiving service is being held this afternoon at St Luke and St Matthew Episcopal Church in Brooklyn. The guest preacher will be the Reverend John A. Rogers, Rector of St Luke’s Anglican Church in St George. It begins at 4 p.m.


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