At a time when the Virgin Islands is experiencing a cultural renaissance of sorts, the government and its partners have continued to outdo themselves each November during Culture and Tourism Month.
This year is no exception, and we hope the entire community will participate in the many activities slated for the coming weeks.
The four-day BVI Literary Arts Festival held at the start of the month was an exceptional undertaking in itself. This year’s lineup included discussions, readings and other events with internationally acclaimed Caribbean authors, many of whom write about this territory and the United States VI.
Drawing that kind of talent — which was done with the help of partnerships between H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and sponsors including Unite BVI — is an impressive feat that will provide invaluable support to the territory’s burgeoning writers and accelerate progress toward developing a more robust national literature.
Also on the lineup for the month are similarly well-conceived events highlighting VI dance, art, crafts and music, as well as extensive culinary offerings including the Anegada Lobster Festival.
The importance of such celebrations cannot be overstated. Because of the territory’s colonial past, VI culture has long been suppressed in ways that still are not fully understood. In the classroom, for instance, generations of students have been fed a steady diet of Anglo-Europeanism at the expense of their African heritage.
Fortunately, such attitudes are changing here and across the Caribbean. But after some 500 years of colonialism in the region, there is still much work to be done.
For such reasons, cultural celebrations are tremendously important for the territory’s people, who deserve to be proud of their own heritage.
They also make sense for the tourism sector. Today’s visitors increasingly want more than the proverbial sand, sea and sun: To their credit, they want to understand the history and culture of the places they visit. This month’s activities help make that happen.
We’re therefore glad that tourism is also a focus of the month’s activities, though we would caution that the industry must not be allowed to rewrite history for its own purposes as has happened in many Caribbean destinations.
Kudos, then, to the many organisers of the month’s celebrations. We hope residents young and old will get involved, enjoying the diverse activities and learning as much as they can about the territory’s rich culture.
In an ideal world, every month would be Culture Month in the Virgin Islands.