BVI News

COVID a reminder of the reason for the season! Emancipation had evolved into ‘misrepresentation’

While the COVID-19 pandemic has mostly shifted the emancipation festivities to the virtual platform, Minister for Culture Dr Natalio Wheatley has said he believes it will force residents to remember the true reason for the celebrations.

Minister Wheatley made the statement during the virtual opening ceremony of the 66th Emancipation Festival at the weekend.

“This is an emancipation festival and its primary purpose is to celebrate emancipation. Yes, the celebration involves music, dance, food, parades and other exciting activities, but we must never lose sight of why we are celebrating.”

“COVID-19 has come along to force us to look at ourselves, forced us to reflect on how we celebrate and why we celebrate. COVID-19, therefore, has presented us with an opportunity, even in the midst of this crisis,” he added.

True meaning distorted overtime

Dr Wheatley also reminded residents that the BVI’s emancipation celebrations did not always have the millions of dollars of spending or the famous regional and international recording artists that it is now known for in recent times.

He described the old-time celebrations as “community-based events with persons volunteering, friends who haven’t seen each other in a while catching up, families coming together in a festive spirit and everyone eating, drinking, dancing and putting our culture on display”. 

“The true meaning of emancipation over the years has evolved into a misrepresentation,” Wheatley stated.

“Somewhere along the line we lost our way. Somewhere along the line it became more about money, someway along the line we embraced drunken revelry more than a celebration of our ancestors. Somewhere along the line it became just an outing to enjoy our favourite artist rather than an opportunity to thank God that we are free.”

Remember the history of the BVI

Premier Andrew Fahie also expressed similar sentiments, adding that residents should join in the celebration of the BVI from the safety of virtual programming that will be offered until August 5.

He said: “Yes, for this year we will miss the colourful banners waving in the streets, having the Festival Village in Road Town, Rise & Shine, local bands and artists, international guest artists, Queen Show, Parade, Prince & Princess — all the things that you usually enjoy huddled together.”

“But this does not erase the fact that we are a free people whose ancestors fought and died to give us the life we have today. It does not change the fact that the culture of our ancestors is alive in our hearts,” he added.

Virtual Opening Ceremony

Meanwhile, Saturday’s virtual opening ceremony included several performances and musical renditions depicting the history of the territory.

These included drama performances by Dwian Frett, a music exhibition by the band Razor Blades, along with a visual presentation by Director of the Department of Culture Dr Katherine Smith.

Virtual Emancipation Service

The virtual emancipation service followed on Sunday and further displayed the territory’s history with the guidance of a number of historians in the field.

These included Director of the Virgin Islands Studies Institute at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College Bernadine Louis and retired Educator and Consultant Dr Quincy Lettsome.

The music renditions were executed by the 2019 Gen Y Factor winner Dwight Hutchinson Jr, while Director of Projects in the Ministry of Finance Dr Drexel Glasgow played the saxophone.

Slogan and theme of festival

The slogan for this year’s emancipation festivities is ‘BVI Festival 2020: Be Fully Free: Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery as we Celebrate our Virgin Islands History’.

The theme is “Our Cultural Heritage in the Mix as BVI Celebrates it’s 66”.

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  1. shabazz says:

    “one term”

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  2. Quantum says:

    We are under the WHO slavery right now. Happy 66 virtual emancipation

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  3. Ning says:

    You shut us in, set up fines, lock people out, scream about constitutional review while stamping on the citizen’s fundamental rights given to us in that same constitution, and now you are telling us what to do and think by watching a virtual history show on the internet? Knowing the BVI has the most expensive and one of the worst internet services on the planet!

    All the while looking away while killing the common person slowly as you strangle the last remnants of our faltering economy.

    Be warned ‘oh wise Shepard’ as a good portion of your flock is getting restless!

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  4. Powerboats says:

    The go fast boats seemed to be congregating in Frenchman’s Bay for the not so ‘virtual’ Festival this week.

  5. Roll eyes says:

    Please sit down one termer! Where is Myron buddy? No comparison at all.

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  6. Preach says:

    We have forgotten many things. Hopefully, unlike Irma, Covid will remind us of what is truly important. As for the comment about *****, if he handled Covid like he and the NDP handled Irma, we would probably be in further dire straits. The thing about people in this territory is that they are immature, self-centred, self-righteous and severely lacking vision. So pay these naysayers no mind.

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  7. Foreigner says:

    With what I recently heard why would I support anything in the BVI. Just allow me to do what you want. Work, pay the taxes, pay my rent, buy my food. No way am I going to support anything that has to do with being in a celebration with you. When you ready to kick me out I’ll leave with gratitude and a thank you for allowing me to earn a living. Earn a living which seems to be a crime base on the xenophobia which is rampant in the country. Oh by the way I’m leaving the man as well as the kids behind after all they belong to you also.

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    • SMH says:

      Don’t look back! You sound so …

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    • Black foreigner? says:

      The festival is about freedom from slavery not whatever financial pettiness you think its about. And you are only hurting yourself with that attitude.

      This is a thing to be celebrated.

      When you dont that means you are forgetting your own history and what your own ancestors went through as it happened on every island.

  8. smh says:

    At least you got this statement right~ “Somewhere along the line we lost our way. Somewhere along the line it became more about money, someway along the line we embraced drunken revelry more than a celebration of our ancestors.

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  9. Eagle eye says:

    I really wasn’t expecting vip young guys to be acting like old men.wasn’t ready for that.send help.

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