Activities to mark this year’s thirty-third anniversary of Independence were formally launched at press conference at the Government Information Service studio and carried live on Channel seven on both MARPIN 2k4 and SAT Telecoms on Friday, September 2, 2011 and on DBS Radio. The activities, which will run from Sunday September 18th to Friday November 4th, 2011, will be held under the theme “Celebrating Thirty-Three – Joining Hands in Unity.”
Addressing Fridays’ function, the Hon. Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports, Justina Charles, said that this years’ theme urges us to come together to celebrate our achievements as a nation and to join hands in unity for the greater good of our people and country. She further stated that it is a patriotic call for us to set aside our differences of political colour, religion, class, status and race and to work together for the good of the nation.
“I must say that as usual, the programme provides an opportunity for all to participate and enjoy every aspect of our country’s culture, our cuisine, dance, music, national wear, arts and creativity. Many people have not realised this that there is no other country in the world which has such a sustained programme of activities for over a month to mark our political independence. Our independence celebration is indeed the most comprehensive and far-reaching one anywhere on the planet. It is a celebration of our rich culture that was created by Kalinago, African and European traditions. This comprehensive celebration of our creole culture never ceases to amaze and impress visitors to Dominica. In this vein, I invite all Dominicans and those overseas to join us in this year’s celebrations,” she said.
The Hon. Minister for Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs, Gloria Shillingford, who also spoke at Friday’s press launch, called on Dominicans to rally together for the celebration of this great event.
According to Shillingford, the theme calls upon each and every citizen to join hands to build our beautiful country, Dominica and issued a clarion call to citizens to unite far beyond the independence season.
“We have, as a nation, journeyed together for thirty-three years. We have seen changes in government, natural disasters, social unrest, but at the end of it we have stood firm as a people and we will continue to thrust forward in unity. The spirit of unity and togetherness, which is being called for, is indeed not only during the Independence season; rather, it should be a lifelong commitment made by every citizen of this country. I therefore call upon families, churches, schools, social groups and communities, in short, every group and every organisation in this country to make this commitment for the good of our nation,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Cultural Officer and Chairman of the Independence Committee, Raymond Lawrence, said that independence is the opportune time to recommit ourselves to the task of nation building.
“Independence, therefore, is a time to recommit ourselves to the task of nation building. It is a time to redouble our efforts to protect our environment and preserve and promote all aspects of our nation’s development,” he pointed out.
Mr. Lawrence further challenged nationals to protect our cultural heritage especially that of our traditional heritage as this was what that led to the establishment of the Independence celebrations as we know it today.
“One very important aspect of our Independence celebrations is about know and celebrating our cultural heritage. When the Chief Minister of Dominica, Edward Oliver Leblanc, introduced the National Day Celebrations way back in 1965, he felt, at the time, that aspects of our heritage were dying. He felt that traditions like our bélé, quadrille, jing ping, creole language and creole wear were slowly disappearing. This is one of the main reasons why he decided to introduce a festival in Dominica to keep these beautiful traditions alive and he organised national competitions in every area of our folklore, this is what we today called independence celebrations,” he said.
He further went on to explain why.
“Our rich traditions are like national treasures which should be cherished and appreciated, promoted and preserved. I wish to call on all the media present here today to really promote the traditional culture on your radio stations, your television stations and your newspapers. We do not want to see what we have promoted and preserved for so many years. Both the traditional and the contemporary culture in Dominica should be strong. We know that our contemporary culture is promoted all through the year: various activities and events and the traditional culture should also be given its space as well throughout the year and especially during the independence celebrations,” he stated.
A few new events have been included in this years’ programme of activities.
Among them is the Madame Wob Dwiyet Pageant; a show which targets the senior citizens.
The show which will be held at the Arawak House of Culture on Friday October 21st, 2011, is expected to feature seven contestants of age sixty and above.
Other independence activities include Creole Bord La Mé, the annual Ti Matador Pageant and the Creole Village Lyme.
The entire calendar of activities can be found on the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica’s website: http://www.dominica.gov.dm/cms/?q=node/1422.