Basseterre, St. Kitts. March 23, 2023 (Ministry of Sport and the Creative Economy)-St. Kitts and Nevis is demonstrating that our culture is alive and well and its preservation is a priority. This was evident at the launch of the ‘Safeguarding St. Kitts and Nevis Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)- Developing a National Policy ICH Project’ at the CUNA Caribbean Conference Center, on March 22.
The operative theme for the launch, ‘A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and souls of its people,’ is indicative of the importance placed on the creation of a dedicated instrument for the preservation and safeguarding of our country’s cultural heritage.
The project has received full financial and technical support from UNESCO and full endorsement of the Departments of Culture, through the Ministry of the Creative Economy.
UNESCO Consultant Nigel Encalada complimented St. Kitts and Nevis for its compliance with the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). He envisions our country becoming a model for other Caribbean nations to emulate, in pursuit of similar policies.
“St. Kitts and Nevis has become a leading nation in the region for the implementation of the Convention, in terms of community involvement and the creation of a national inventory of Living Heritage. No other nation in the English-speaking Caribbean has yet developed a policy and legislation, specific to Intangible Cultural Heritage,” Encalada revealed.
Valencia Syder, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Sport, offered remarks on behalf of Hon. Samal Duggins, Minister with responsibility for Culture and Sport. She reiterated that cultural heritage is synonymous with the transmission of knowledge and skills from one generation to the next.
“Countless persons, be they visitors or consumers afar, would pay to experience authentic elements of our unique St. Kitts and Nevis culture. Just as they value our culture, just so we should value, safeguard and capitalize on the authenticity of our cultural heritage,” Permanent Secretary Syder encouraged.
Secretary General for the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, Dorothy Warner, gave a special welcome to the Intangible Cultural Heritage expert on the ground, Encalada, for his role in securing over US$91,000 in funding, to safeguard ICH items, with the hope of nominating them to the UNESCO ICH list. She also applauded all stakeholders who are involved in the policy development project.
“We need to show respect for and preserve and protect the items that have been identified and documented. The bold steps we take now to value our history and treasure our heritage for successive generations show the privilege and pride of our people to own such knowledge,” Secretary General Warner cited.
Both focal points for the project, Marlene Phillips (St. Kitts) and Patrick Howell (Nevis) received commendations for their groundwork with the ICH movement, which has led to the establishing and maintaining of Secretariats; and the successful Equipment Documentation Training workshops, which preceded this launch.
Patrons at the launch ceremony were entertained with folklore presentations, inclusive of traditional drumming, the St. Peter’s actors and the Monkey Bull troupe. They were also treated to “goody bags” stacked with traditional delicacies such as coconut tarts, conkie, sugarcake and potato pudding.
UNESCO, the United Nations Organization in charge of culture, ensures the safeguarding and transmitting of intangible cultural heritage, i.e. traditional knowledge, arts and skills. In 2003, it created the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, ratified by 180 States, which has already allowed for the inscription of more than 600 elements throughout the world.
St. Kitts and Nevis signed on to the Convention in 2016.