Tourism and Culture Secretary Nadine Stewart Phillips, on Friday night, encouraged Tobagonians to invest their time and energy in learning the beautiful nuances of Tobago’s heritage that make the island culturally unique.
“We must all be committed to ensure that this and future generations are distinctly proud to own and share their Tobagonian heritage; our music, food, dances, dialect, customs and traditions, our pride; these are ours to treasure, these are ours to embrace, engage and experience,” she Stewart Phillips said.
Delivering an address at Friday night’s opening of the 2018 Tobago Heritage Festival, set the tone for the next two weeks of the Festival, she said:
“From this evening (Friday), we would witness the power of youth and intra-generational collaboration to the preservation of Tobago’s unique and beautiful heritage. We would also witness the interweaving of technology and new media with music, movement and oral traditions to highlight who we are and where we came from.
“Since 1987, the Tobago Heritage Festival has undoubtedly evoked deep feelings across the island and our diaspora, deep feelings of pride and even deeper feelings of nostalgia as the island of Tobago is transformed into a living museum. It is also heartwarming to see that this vision which emerged 31 years ago still evokes deep feelings and continues to stand as a symbol of our desire and commitment to the preservation of our very distinct Tobagonian culture.”
Stewart-Phillips said Tobago was positioned as a destination to provide extraordinary experiences that attract domestic, regional, international and diaspora visitors of every age.
“Truly she becomes more beautiful and each year we must challenge ourselves to showcase this beauty. We must challenge ourselves to creatively express and export our culture, while remaining cognizant that many areas of our heritage are yet to be explored.
“We must also be inspired by the advent of new media, virtual reality technology and global technological platforms and think innovative ways to incorporate these in the showcasing and marketing of our heritage,” she said.
In his welcome address, George Leacock, Executive Chairman of the Tobago Festival Commission, urged Tobagonians to extend courtesies to every citizen of the world who comes to share in the event.
“Once a year in the last two weeks of July, the people of Tobago invites the world to embrace, engage and experience our culture, what we have done in this place and what this place has done to us. Citizens of the world, I’ve said to you before that we want you to embrace, engage and experience.
“Engaging, embracing and experiencing means that we expect to see you dressed like if you’re going to a wedding when we go to Moriah… I also expect that you would be dressed in your school uniforms, when we go to Mason Hall for Games We Used to Play. And when we go to Les Coteaux, I would want to suggest that this is pretty sound advice, it is either you wear your clothes inside out or back to front. I have good advice that this would make sure that nothing follows you home that shouldn’t,” he advised.
The Festival continues over the next two weeks at villages throughout the island, culminating on August with Emancipation Celebrations at Pigeon Point Heritage Park.