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Carifesta XI ends with fantastic fireworks display – Haiti set to host next festival


Georgetown, GINA, August 26, 2013 - Last evening the curtains came down on Carifesta X1 in Paramaribo, Suriname with much pomp, and ceremony, paving the way for preparations for the next Caribbean Festival of Arts to be held in Haiti in 2015.


At the closing ceremony, Surinamese President Desi Bouterse handed over the cultural baton, a wooden sculpture, to Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly who indicated that Haiti is ready to host Carifesta X11 and has already sought assistance from the Surinamese planning committee.

“I am extremely proud of this moment because this is the first in the history of Carifesta the responsibility of organising Carifesta is transferred from the hands of one Caricom President to those of another,” President Bouterse said.

At the start of his speech, the Surinamese Head of State expressed appreciation to the many artistes and entertainers who helped to make Carifesta X1 a success. He singled out Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Suriname’s DJ Chucky and Haiti’s Jean Wyclef.

“Today (August 25) we conclude Carifesta X1 with great pride and joy…these past 10 days were filled with passionate movements, rhythmic beats, stunning images, movies, and storytelling that will always bring back the best of memories,” he said.

The President added that during the week of activities, patrons witnessed an exciting opening show and people shared their different cultures in dance, song, art, multi-media, theatre and even film. Importantly, the participation of the youths and children re-enforced the promises made for a better future.

“Our youth also have caught our attention for the need to build an environmental responsible community,” he noted. The President was referring to the Youth Village that was part of the event.

President Bouterse emphasised that moments like these make him proud to be the Head of State of the Carifesta host country. “The celebration of culture has indeed shown us who we are and what we have,” he highlighted. Further, the festival of arts is a reminder that nurturing culture is critical to development, he stated.

“This has been a very vibrant and exciting ten days of sharing and showcasing the many dimensions of our rich Caribbean culture, and that of our many visiting contingents of artistes from UNASUR and other friends from outside our region,” stated Ambassador Colin Granderson, Caricom’s Assistant Secretary General, Foreign and Community Relations.

He congratulated President Bouterse and his team for successfully organising and delivering Carifesta XI, and creating a space where all participating artistes and officials were able to explore the theme of the festival – Culture for Development.  “Over the past 10 days we have celebrated our diversity in all art forms, from the performing to the visual, literary, and culinary and many other art forms, including film, fashion and craft,” Ambassador Granderson said.

Suriname also implemented some bold and important new initiatives in Carifesta XI which should be commended, he stated. One such initiative was the Caribbean Marketplace for the Arts where international booking agents and art promoters attended the Festival to see the Caribbean artistes.

This is an initiative, he said, that should continue in all Carifestas while other new elements such as the mass choir presentations, animation and Anansi were ones which celebrated youth and presented new opportunities for young artistes to develop, while safeguarding the Caribbean’s heritage and identity.

The Ambassador also commended the Youth Focus Programme and the Caricom Youth Ambassadors in making sure that the youth were fully engaged in Carifesta; organising activities, giving technical and other support, and enjoying the exploration of who they are as a people. “Engaging our young people is critical to the continuity and sustainability of this quintessential Caribbean Festival,” he said.

The Ambassador noted that as the curtains came down on Carifesta XI, everyone is now looking forward to the preparations for the next event in yet another beautiful sister state.

“We thank the President of Haiti for the kind offer to host, made at the Thirty-Third Meeting of Heads of Government in St. Lucia in July 2012, which has been graciously accepted by our Heads of Government…the presence here with us this evening of the President of Haiti, H.E. Michel Joseph Martelly, signals the strength of Haiti’s national motto “L’Union fait la Force” (Unity is our strength) will now be the guiding force as they receive the cultural baton of responsibility for hosting Carifesta,” the Ambassador highlighted.

Guyana’s contingent of 60 members was well received in all their presentations, and their booths were patronised by many.

Hundreds of people including participants of Carifesta X1 and Surinamese turned out to the closing ceremony which was held in Independence Square. After the singing of the country’s national anthem, a combination of Military and Police Officers followed up with the recital of several popular Caribbean tunes which included ‘One Love’ and ‘I Wanna Love Ya’ by Bob Marley.

The colourful programme included performances by the 340 Surinamese children who had performed at the opening ceremony, and a martial arts display. Several of the participating countries were also given the opportunity to perform segments of their repertoire.  One of the exciting presentations in this regard was the performance by the Jamaicans who belted out popular reggae and dance hall tunes from the last two decades. Their performance was well received by the audience who joined in with singing and dancing.

In keeping with the concept of unity, as is the essence of Carifesta, there was also a segment where artistes from the participating countries were able to share the stage together in song and dance. The singing of the Patta Patta, an African song, by the Whaul Sisters from Guyana was one of the center pieces.

At the close of the ceremony, the audience was treated to a breathtaking fireworks display and a glimpse of the softer sides of the Presidents of Suriname and Haiti who shared the stage with Wyclef Jean and members of the Haiti contingent.