By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- As the eleventh edition of the Caribbean Festival of Arts and Culture (CARIFESTA XI) came to a close in Paramaribo, Suriname, Eleston Adams, Antigua and Barbuda’s minister of culture, voiced his disappointed at the lack of interest for the event shown by most of his Caribbean colleagues.
Apart from Adams, only his counterparts from Barbados, Jamaica and Curacao had attended the region’s most prominent festival of arts and culture that came to an end Sunday.
"I regret to say that I am disappointed in the participation and support of culture ministers of the Caribbean for the CARIFESTA happening," Adams told local newspaper de Ware Tijd. He made an urgent appeal to region for more support and dedication towards CARIFESTA and the artistes of the Caribbean.
"Culture should be more prominent. If we want to reap the benefits, especially with regard to tourism, each country should have a ministry of culture,” he said.
Adams congratulated the Suriname government, the population and the organizing committee for staging the event despite all the challenges.
"It is an immense and costly undertaking and a challenge,” he said.
He praised the involvement and participation of the large numbers of youth in the organization and the festivities itself. He also noted that the region should focus on the benefits CARIFESTA will have in the long term. According to the minister, the business opportunities that were explored will surely prove their worth in economic terms.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s President Michel Martelly arrived in Suriname for the closing ceremony on Sunday at the Independence Square. So far, Martelly is the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leader that travelled to Suriname to participate in CARIFESTA.
At the end of the festival he was due to be handed over the CARIFESTA baton by Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse. In 2015, Haiti will organize the 12th Caribbean Festival of Arts and Culture. On Friday evening Martelly was the guest of honour at the Saramacca CARIFESTA Night in celebration of Haitian culture.
With several thousands, mostly Haitian immigrants in attendance, internationally acclaimed artists and performers from Haiti, including Ballet Bacoulou, Ticoca, Mikaben and Tabou Combo, took the stage. Martelly, also known as ‘Sweet Mickey’, performed several of his hit songs with Tabou Combo. His fellow countryman Wycleff Jean was the main act at Saturday night’s concert at Independence Square.