Carifesta 2013

Carifesta Background:

The first Carifesta was held in 1972 in Guyana, the expectation was for a bi-annual programme, but this has never materialised. Funding, particularly for the host country, has been a constant difficulty and it has led to only the larger countries hosting. Further to that, some smaller countries have not participated or only participated as a last minute decision.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, (SVG), participated in 1972, missed CARIFESTA II in Jamaica 1976, then went to CARIFESTA III, 1979 in Cuba. That was our largest contingent to date, (50+ persons), due, in part, to the fact that a boat was provided to take participants to and from at little cost to the sending country. We also participated in CARIFESTA IV, 1981 in Barbados, CARIFESTA V, 1992 in Trinidad & Tobago, (T&T) and CARIFESTA VI 1995, also in T&T. CARIFESTA VII was held in St. Kitts-Nevis in 2000, the first 'small island' CARIFESTA. We also participated in CARIFESTA VIII, 2003 Suriname. We did not go to CARIFESTA IX in T&T 2006, however we sent a 35-person contingent to CARIFESTA X in 2008. CARIFESTA XI was slated to occur in 2011 in the Bahamas but was re-scheduled to Suriname 2013.

CARIFESTA XI represented the first use of the reviewed CARIFESTA model. In 2003, in an effort to restructure the Festival a new CARIFESTA model was developed. The new model institutes a permanent management structure for the Festival and seeks to ensure that CARIFESTA is a more dynamic and economically viable event. Suriname officially offered (in 2011) to host the eleventh edition of CARIFESTA using the new model. Preparations were conducted at the Suriname national level, through the Ministry of Education and Community Development and its Directorate of Culture; and at the regional level, through the Regional Cultural Committee, which is the regional advisory body of Directors of Culture of CARICOM, and at the level of the Council for Human and Social Development, (COHSOD), more specifically through the Ministers responsible for Culture.

The theme for Carifesta XI was "Culture for development: celebrating our diversity and promoting the central role of culture in economic, social and human development”. The theme encompasses all aspects of sustainable human development, while at the same time revealing an inherent respect for human rights by paying equal attention to diversity.



St. Vincent and the Grenadines' contingents for recent Festivals are as follows:

Year 2003 2006 2008 2013
No. of Participants 18 0 36 17

The Government designated an official contingent of seventeen (17) persons to represent the country at CARIFESTA XI which was held in Suriname from 16th to 24th August 2013. The theme of the country's major presentation was, “SVG we come from”.

The contingent left SVG on Wednesday 14th August and returned on Tuesday 27th August.

The contingent participated in: Vincentian Night Special Programme, presentations at various Rural Community Showcases, as well as Grand Market; and of course the Opening and Closing Galas. Two of the team members, Shaunelle McKenzie and Grantley “I-pa” Constance, made special presentations for producers and promoters at 'The Caribbean Marketplace for the Arts'. This element of CARIFESTA is new and focuses on providing opportunities for Caribbean artists to showcase their work, and make professional contacts that will facilitate international exposure and professional development. They were identified by AMP (the Association for Music Professionals) for this opportunity.

The members of the contingent were:

Ashford Wood - Coordinator
Maxine Browne - Choreographer, Dancer
Delliann Browne - Dancer
Natasha Commissiong - Dancer
Koriene Chance - Dancer
Kaywne Goodgie - Dancer
Zoe Da Silva - Dancer
David Julian Pollard - Artistic Director, Grand Market Booth
Nzimbu Browne - Grand Market Crafts, Drummer, Poet
Reajhaun Baptiste - Steel Pan Player
Rodney Small - Steel Pan Player
Glenroy “Sulle” Caesar - Drummer, Poet
Victor Byron - Drummer, Poet
Grantley Constance - Calypsonian
Shaunelle McKenzie - Soca Artiste
Hance John - Soca Artiste
Hope Kagbala - Fashion & Grand Market

On the day of departure a small aircraft incident in Barbados led to a very long tiring day at E.T. Joshua airport for some of the group, the team however assembled safely in Suriname and over the period of the Festival made many successful presentations. They were so impressive that they were identified as one of only eight (8) countries to make presentations for the Closing Ceremony. A total of thirty (30) countries sent contingents to participate, including a few non-Caribbean, ones such as Indonesia, mainland China, and India.

The next Festival, CARIFESTA XII, is proposed for Haiti in August 2015.


Exile Story

The Spanish, French and English fought amongst themselves to claim ownership of our islands in total disregard of the ownership rights of the people they found already living in the islands they called the Caribbean. In the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) the Europeans delayed trying to settle here until the 1600s. The indigenous people, wise to the European's intentions resisted their settlement efforts. These battles are referred to as the Carib Wars.

In 1795 Paramount Chief, His Excellency, the Right Honourable Joseph Chatoyer, (First National Hero of SVG), was leader of the resistance to European colonisation of this island. He was killed on 14th March. His death brought an effective end to the resistance effort. Sir William Young records that to solve the “difficulty” in St. Vincent, “either remove the British planter or remove the Caribs”. The British Government of the time chose to punish the Garifuna people, (Black Caribs), by imposing exile on them. In July 1796 the British rounded up as many of the Garifuna as they could capture and shipped them, first to Balliceaux then to Roatan. They recorded the number captured as 5,080 men. Only 2026 survived and landed on Honduras. As the community grew in numbers they later spread to Belize and other areas.

In 2001 UNESCO proclaimed the Graifuna culture as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. The exile robbed Vincentians of language, food, worship, forms of entertainment, and most significantly, a psychic attitude of colonial resistance and of self-reliance; attitudes of raised consciousness.