This year we have been reminded repeatedly of the origins of our August Emancipation Festival. The lessons came from elders, educators and historians; from the pulpit; from the Sunday Morning Well service; and especially from a young voice representing the youth.
“Our ancestors assembled in the churches for a solemn service of thanksgiving.”
We now know that the origin of the Festival is rooted in “solemn thanksgiving,” which should guide all the celebrations. As young Trevon Todman said in his message at the Sunday Morning Well service, we must keep the focus on God, for He is the ultimate prize.
And now that it has sunk deep down within our souls, what are we to do? We are to honour the memory and culture of our ancestors respectfully in all aspects of our emancipation celebrations, without parading any form of lewdness.
Families should be able to participate, appreciate and enjoy the August Monday Parade. Instead, several young families do not take their children to the parade because of the sheer nakedness of some of the costumes.
Some of us claim that the parade has gone to hell with its carnival element and content. Others say that because the Virgin Islands is now a cosmopolitan community we cannot hope to “bring back” the parade. I am sorry, but I disagree. I am not rolling over and taking that lying down.
It is our VI August Emancipation Festival. Of course, we welcome the enthusiasm and costume expertise of others among us who wish to enter items in the parade, but they must do so according to a certain standard.
The VI Festivals and Fairs Committee should take authority and set the standard. The key to any success is preparation. Planning should begin the week after the last Festival, not three weeks before the start of the next one.
The Committee should establish timelines; announce themes such as culture, history or literature (see more in the July 26 issue); and appoint a standards subcommittee.
Potential entries would submit costume designs to the subcommittee, which would approve them or offer suggestions.
On the day of the parade, troupes, floats and so on that do not comply would not be allowed to join the parade. Troupes would be disallowed for ignoring the agreed standard.
Individuals must understand that if they turn up in costumes more naked than the rest of the group they would cause the group to be disqualified and unable to join the parade.
Festival Committee, it would not be as difficult as you think. People would cooperate, provided that you tell them exactly where you are coming from. They would not want to know that they are disrespecting our ancestors, causing them to “turn in their graves” because of lewd costume and behaviour on the street under the guise of celebrating emancipation.
We must not underestimate how much the human spirit could rise to achieve once there is understanding, cooperation and mutual respect. When people know better, they will do better.