Culture Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley has said he is anticipating backlash from residents who were disappointed in the cancellation of the usual events associated with the territory’s emancipation celebrations.
Dr Wheatley gave that indication during the Festival of Culture & Praise event which was held at the Stickit in Long Look, Tortola on Wednesday.
He said: “I am grateful for all of you who have come to this Festival of Culture & Praise because right now the Festival of Culture & Praise is not the most popular thing, and we are going to take a lot of blows for not having J’ouvert.”
“We are going to take a lot of blows for not having the drunkenness and the revelry and all of that type stuff right now because that is more popular than praising God and thanking God for your freedom, and celebrating your history and your culture,” he added.
Minister Wheatley said that he stands firmly by his decisions which were made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he believes the manner in how the BVI celebrates emancipation should reflect the work and value of the territory.
“I am not going to take a step backwards. I have to tell you I’m going to march forward with courage and conviction because my ancestors deserve it,” he said.
Unity needed to overcome COVID-19
Dr Wheatley also encouraged unity amongst residents, stating that he believes it is needed if the BVI is to successfully overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I guarantee if we don’t come together, we are not going to survive what it is we are about to go through because really and truly, we are just at the beginning of the hard times based on COVID-19 and all the other challenges we have,” the minister said.
Also sharing similar sentiments was Territorial At-Large Representative Neville Smith. He called on residents to put love and God back into the society since those two essential elements of the community have been absent.
Meanwhile, during the eight-hour long community event which was also streamed online, four persons were honoured for their outstanding contribution to the festival over the years.
They are Reole ‘Limping Jack’ Frett, seasoned artist Cedric Turnbull, stilt performer Andrew ‘Charlie’ Turnbull and Moviene Fahie who has been involved with the festival for more than three decades.
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