Carifesta XIV opened last Friday night with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley calling for regional unity.
In his speech last night at the opening ceremony at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Dr Rowley said he felt a tinge of sadness that we are still separated by borders as sovereign states.
“Maybe one border around us all, identifying us as one people might have given us a little chance to taste to our Caribbean-ness. But all is not lost, we are working assiduously towards the creation of a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and as we do that step by step, milestone by milestone, one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, politically, and economically we will be identified as a people of the Caribbean who have come into this region from all parts of the world but living together in harmony, prospering and enjoying probably the best location on the globe.”
The theme for this edition of Carifesta is “Connect, Share, Invest, which, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, the Minister of Community Development, Arts and Culture, said captures the broadened trajectory of the festival, whilst reflecting a paradigm shift in Trinidad and Tobago’s own cultural landscape.
“Since its inception in 1972, Carifesta has maintained its status as one of the region’s most successful model for cultural integration. It is a Biennial exercise in self-rediscovery for Caribbean people while sensitising global audiences about the Caribbean’s cultural DNA. To safeguard the competitiveness of the region’s cultural product, Carifesta is evolving to feature more pathways for networking, mentorship and trade opportunities.”
This is T&T’s fourth time hosting the biannual celebration of culture and arts.
In her address, the Minister said since the baton was passed from Barbados to Trinidad and Tobago in August 2017, they have all worked feverishly to further elevate this regional cultural celebration.
“Strategically positioning our cultural identities into a ten-day festival became a Herculean task. Relative to the rest of the world, we are a small territory with larger than life cultural legacies. Our voices, shared memories, fiery spirits and artistic wonder are all unmatched. We have spent the last two years trying to narrate this unique Caribbean story using the best writing instruments available to us,” she said.
That story was narrated in a spectacular presentation designed by cinematographer Dahlia Dennison entitled The Spirit of Wild Oceans described as a multifaceted exploration of the cultural harmonies that unite the Caribbean through dance, music, art, poetry, color and belief.
The presentation was done in four acts starting with the Invocation of the Muses followed by The Genesis, Caribbean Odyssey, Our Land and the Parade of Nations.
The audience, comprising contingents from the 22 countries participating in Carifesta cheered loudly during the presentation which included impressive set designs.
The opening ceremony also saw performances from T&T soca and chutney stars Nailah Blackman, Olatunji, David Rudder, Nishard M, Neval Chatelal and Denyse Plummer who sang her iconic song ‘Nah Leaving’.