During the Parade of Nations police officers carry the flags of the participating countries while their images are projected on the Presidential Palace with lasers
By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- With a dazzling display of colours and laser projections of the participating countries flags on the Presidential Palace as a backdrop, shaolin monks from China, hundreds of dancing schoolchildren carrying balloons, a military drum band, drama, ballet performances and a fireworks show, Suriname staged a spectacular opening of the eleventh Caribbean Festival of Arts and Culture (CARIFESTA XI) on Friday evening.
Independence Square in the capital of Paramaribo was transformed into an outdoor theater, seating around 7,000 spectators, while several thousand others watched the opening ceremony on widescreens that were erected at several locations in the capital.
“Culture is an important cornerstone of a healthy society. Taking into account the economic and social factors only, without paying attention to the culture perspectives, will not be sustainable for development on the long term,” said Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse in his address to the crowd.
The Surinamese leader further noted that “as cultural expression forces respect and understanding between individuals and groups with different identities, it helps to resolve and prevent conflicts and consequently enhances collaboration in our relationships”.
According to Irwin Larocque, secretary general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), “A special and unique celebration of Caribbean culture begins here and now with the opening ceremony of this eleventh commemoration of CARIFESTA.”
The CARICOM official further noted that attendees came from all over the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Latin America to experience “this magical evening” and the festivities during the next days.
“CARIFESTA is loved by all of us, because culture is our passion,” said Larocque.
Praising the regional culture ambassadors, he further noted that Caribbean nationals are passionate and take great pride in “our many accomplished and renowned artists, musicians, writers and dancers who proclaim the Caribbean and inspire the global imagination”.
During the festivities, locals and visitors alike, according to the secretary-general, will take the opportunity to explore the business of culture and the way in which the development of a cultural and creative industry can help to realize prosperity.
Over the next few days, internationally acclaimed Caribbean performers, including jazz singer Denise Jannah and flautist Ronald Snijders from Suriname, Wycleff Jean and Tabou Combo from Haiti, Barbara Cadet Quintet from St Lucia and No-Maddz from Jamaica and many more are scheduled to perform live on stage.
Besides delegations from CARICOM member states, guest performers from China, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Curacao, Bonaire, French Guiana, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, South Korea and Argentina will also participate in CARIFESTA XI.
So far, only Haiti’s president Michel Martelly of the other CARICOM leaders has confirmed his attendance in Suriname.