Title: Is Caribbean culture at the crossroads or is it a crossroad culture?
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA00100664/00001
 Material Information
Title: Is Caribbean culture at the crossroads or is it a crossroad culture?
Physical Description: Newspaper clipping
Language: English
Publisher: Guyana Chronicle, Tuesday, 26 August 2008, page 3
Publication Date: 2008
Subject: Caribbean
Dessimination of Culture
McDonald, Ian
Dabydeen, David
Ramchand, Kenneth
Baugh, Edward
McLeod, Cynthia
Walcott, Derek
Abstract: Article reports on the symposium 'Caribbean Culture at the Crossroad : Seeking the Past, Living the Present, Exploring the Future.' Panellists, Dr. Ian McDonald, Dr. David Dabydeen, Dr. Kenneth Ramchand, Dr. Edward Baugh and Ms Cynthia McLeod examined the status and future of Caribbean culture. Included a poetry reading session by Nobel Laureate Mr. Derek Walcott OCC of Saint Lucia.
Funding: Digitized with funding from the Digital Library of the Caribbean grant awarded by TICFIA.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA00100664
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Holding Location: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: CARIFESTA X 2008

Full Text

GUYANA CHRONICLE Tuesday, August 26, 2008 3


Is Caribbean culture at the crossroads

or is it a crossroad culture?

THE Tenth staging of the
Caribbean Festival of the
Arts, (CARIFESTA X) on
Sunday brought together, in
a symposium, five outstand-
ing literary artists who gave
differing views on the status
and future of Caribbean Cul-
ture under the theme: 'Car-
ibbean Culture At the Cross-
roads: Seeking the Past, Liv-
ing the Present, Exploring
the Future'.
The impressive panel of
presenters comprising Trinidad
and Tobago-born Guyanese au-
thor and poet Dr. Ian
McDonald; Guyanese Linguis-
tic Professor Dr. David
Dabydeen; Trinidad and
Tobago's Professor of West In-
dian Literature, Dr Kenneth
Ramchand; Jamaica's poet, ora-
tor, dramatist and professor, Dr.
Edward Baugh; and Suriname's
leading writer and researcher,
Cynthia McLeod, who all
paved the way for Nobel Lau-
reate Mr. Derek Walcott, OCC,
of Saint Lucia to read from his
volumes of poetry.
Opening the discussion,
Dr. McDonald opined that
culture by its very definition,
nature and the manner in
which it evolved would al-
ways be at the crossroads. He
pointed to our way of life as
culture and argued that
many of our systems includ-
ing our political, economic,
social systems were at a cross-
roads, but hastened to point
out that we did have pockets
of excellence which should

form a cultural bedrock on
which we could build.
He advocated the West In-
dian language as a cultural bed-
rock on which the Region could
build and called for a nurturing
of this core advantage, espe-
cially in our formal education
system so that our young
people, he said, could use the
language better than anyone else
in the world and also to ensure
that the literature produced by
the Caribbean was perpetuated
successfully throughout the Re-
Ms McLeod acknowl-
edged CARIFESTA as the
cultural Mecca of the Region
and argued that the Culture
was not at a crossroads but
was more a crossroad culture
because of its diversity. She
said History had ironically
bequeathed us a legacy from
which we had learnt creativ-
ity and innovativeness.
She noted that steel bands
started in the Caribbean because
our ancestors had no money to
buy other instruments, and sla-
very had taught us how to be
resilient and united even while
celebrating our differences.
Those attributes, she sug-
gested were enviable aspects of
our culture that we needed to
Ms McLeod also averred
that our cultural diversity was
the El Dorado the gold of the
Caribbean which we could use
to teach the world how to over-
come differences.
Dr. Ramchand, author of

the popular 'West Indian
Novel and its Background',
gave a poignant presentation
which asserted that our Car-
ibbean Culture took the
wrong turn at the crossroads
after we earned the right to
vote in the 1950s.
He said, during that time,
Caribbean governments made
some questionable decisions
which affected the development
of culture and that the crisis
now existing in our culture was
a reflection of the crisis of the
society as whole.
He contended that during
the 1950s the society was rein-
venting itself and that Caribbean
governments had failed to seize
and nurture that moment of "a
self-inventing society," as well
as the architects of that inven-
tion the artists.
No publishing houses; no
repository of our Literatures
and no recognition of our artists
were some of the manifestations
of what he called a 'bad deci-
sion,' made by Caribbean Gov-
ernments, particularly those in
his native Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Ramchand further de-
fined Culture as a way of think-
ing, feeling, doing and seeing and
asserted that our Culture was
being challenged and under
threat today:
"The crisis in our society
has had immeasurable ef-
fects on our whole way of life
as well as on the forms of ar-
tistic and cultural expressions
and the location of such ex-
pressions and on the impact

and value specifically, and if
you ask me how we have
come to this crisis in our
society...I would say...that
we have failed to recognize
and disseminate (otherwise
make known) and store the
contribution of art and cul-
ture to the making,
shaping and muscling of our
Had we stored those contri-
butions, Dr. Ramchand stated,
we would not have been so frag-
ile and vulnerable to global in-
fluences and pressures.
He then appealed to the
Region to return to the cross-
roads to find another path to-
wards cultural unity and diver-
sity and find "charms to ward
off the evil of our dark ages..."
Dr. Dabydeen shared the
contents of earlier correspon-
dence among young writers such
as V. S. Naipaul and Henry
Swansea to illustrate the diffi-
culty they had in getting their
works published and reiterated
the call for a Caribbean publish-
ing house and printing press
which he said would ensure that

Caribbean writers could be self-
Professor Baugh who was
tasked with introducing the fea-
ture reader of the evening, Mr.
Walcott, gave a critical analysis
of Walcott's Works, noting also
that the heterogeneity of Carib-
bean culture was energizing our
development and underscored
that the culture was by no
means at "a crossroad but was

a crossroad culture." He then in-
troduced Mr. Walcott as one
who was "always doing some-
thing new, pushing back fron-
tiers a threshold man and a
crossroads man."
The symposia continued
yesterday with the topic:
'Mekkin Change: Art and
Artists in the Caribbean'.

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