Minister of Tourism and Culture, Carlos James has stressed the need for nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), to pay more attention to the Country’s festivals. Speaking on Saturday January, 27, at the National Nine Mornings prize giving ceremony, he said this was essential in order to prevent erosion through competition from the media and technology that are drawing people away from what is ‘indigenous’ and ‘unique’ to the Vincy culture.
“All of us, no matter the age, young or old…we have that obligation to preserve what belongs to us…this is by far the most important aspect of our culture as a people and we have to work even harder at preserving it,” Minister James said, as he delivered the keynote address at the ceremony held at the Memorial Hall, Kingstown.
James said he is fearful that in the next two decades, persons may not know of Nine Mornings events, and Heritage Month as social media apps like TikTok and Instagram may be the focal point for most persons.
“We are the guardians of that, we have to protect it, preserve it, and build on it so that the next generation can recognise its value and its importance.”
He added that it is the responsibility of older persons in communities to pass on to the younger generation the story of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“A lot of out young people are not closely connected with our story, they know about a history but not our story as a people and a civilisation”
He acknowledged that more work is needed in getting more communities engaged in organising activities and events tailored at commemorating and recognising the importance of National Heroes Month during which National Heroes’ Day is celebrated.
“March 14, I should have the option of going to Greiggs and Fancy, but also to North Leeward…We have to really look at our community groups and see how best we can bring our communities even closer together,” the minister stressed.
Last year’s Nine Mornings saw the addition of a ‘Wake N Wheel’ where persons won prizes simply by being there early. The minister commended the Nine Mornings Committee for that addition which he said “was a very good innovative part of the festival”.
He pointed out that innovation plays an important role in keeping persons engaged in the festivities and that very year there should be something new added by the Nine Mornings Committee.
He drew attention as well to the residents of Bequia who “quietly returned and took Nine Mornings by storm last season”, and drew reference to the winning streak of Point Village, Sandy Bay who for 10 years won the VINLEC National Lighting Competition.
“Everyone was saying; well what’s the point compete when it’s Point again, every year is Point, Point, Point…. It’s good to see another community put in the effort with their creativity and was able to dethrone Point,” he punned.
He noted that there were a lot more communities staging Nine Mornings programmes, and that while the light and beautification is a good thing, the Nine Mornings programme is important as it fosters community bonding.
The minister also make note of the increased numbers of visitors to SVG during the 2023 winter season, noting that the onus is now on the ministry to look for more creative means in setting the bar higher.