Community Faces and Voices

Culture and Integration- CARIFESTA 2013

As Head of State of Suriname, I must acknowledge that it is a privilege to organise the eleventh CARIFESTA, `Culture for Development: Celebrating our Diversity and Promoting the Central Role of Culture in Economic, Social and Human Development’ in August 2013. Being a member of the Caribbean Community, my country experiences this moment of preparation in connection with the Caribbean Festival, as an opportunity to bring, in the first place, Caribbean people together, and secondly, an opportunity to draw other people, who have warmhearted feelings towards the Caribbean and its people, to this part of the Caribbean. At the same time, organizing CARIFESTA should definitely be characterised as a challenge since it is a test case for my government and my fellow citizens to demonstrate amongst others their creativity, their strength, their motivation, their endurance, whereby friendliness and hospitality are predominating traits of our people’s character as guarantees for gracious reception of people with other nationalities visiting our country. With outstretched arms any tourist/participant will be welcomed to make them feel at home and make them really feel that we are connected to one another as human beings. In 2011, I had offered, on behalf of the Surinamese people, to host the eleventh CARIFESTA. From that moment on, intensive preparations guaranteeing an unforgettable CARIFESTA have started at the Surinamese governmental level, specifically the Ministry of Education and Community Development, with direct coordination of the Directorate of Culture as well as at the regional, Caribbean level through the Regional Cultural Committee. The Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), consisting of the Ministries of Culture of the Caribbean, has also been involved in the preparation phase.

To ensure that proper execution will be undertaken, I have, early in the process, installed the Host Country Management Committee (HCMC) on June 26, 2012, which moment signalled the start of the execution of the Caribbean Festival of Arts 2013. It is an obligation to make this cultural event as great and unforgettable as possible. We all must be aware that culture is an important cornerstone of a healthy society. First of all, culture is an important part of every development process because only taking into account economic and social factors without paying attention to the cultural perspectives will, in the long term, prove to be not sustainable. Second, cultural expression helps foster respect and understanding between individuals and groups with different identities, thereby helping to resolve or prevent conflict and consequently enhance collaboration and relationships. Furthermore, culture gives people a feeling of liberty. Since people have the freedom of choice with regard to cultural expressions, they feel better and that, in turn, contributes to motivation leading to valuable contributions to society. Finally, culture reflects people’s hopes and aspirations and helps determine positive goals in one’s life; positive goals create positive institutions and positive institutions create positive communities. Suriname and the Surinamese people will shortly demonstrate generally accepted heartwarming friendliness to welcome all individuals who will participate actively or passively in the CARIFESTA activities. The visitors will witness top level Caribbean art and other cultural expressions. In addition to the hospitality, friendliness and the cultural activities, participants will get to know the Surinamese cuisine consisting of amongst others a variety of typical Indian, Creole, Javanese, Chinese, Amerindian and Maroon food. The Festival will consist of several interesting elements which will give more colour and prestige to the event. First of all, the Festival will be a Grand Cultural Market to display environmentally sustainable products. Also, there will be special programme components consisting of performing and visual arts focusing on the Caribbean youth through the `Youth Focus’ brand, which will encourage the youth to actively take part in the activities especially those parts geared towards their needs. Furthermore, very special attention will be given to often neglected groups like persons with disabilities and senior citizens. These groups will get special treatment and many activities will be adjusted, as necessary, to make accessibility for these groups possible. In addition, to add lustre to the interesting elements, Surinamese and Caribbean artists will present art in its purest form for the enjoyment of all people who will be present.

With the vision: “To position CARIFESTA as a world-renowned hallmark festival of Caribbean cultural and artistic excellence, that generates economic benefits, unites the region and excites all people” and the mission: “To stage a mega multidisciplinary roving festival that develops Caribbean arts and culture”, supported by the dedication of the participants, the diverse cultural and historic points of interest, I am confident that this CARIFESTA XI will prove to be an invaluable event. Therefore, as the President and Head of State of the Republic of Suriname, the host country of CARIFESTA XI, I am looking forward to warmheartedly welcoming you all to participate in the upcoming Caribbean Festival of Arts in August 2013. Congratulations CARICOM on our 40th Anniversary and let us celebrate this during CARFESTA XI in Suriname.

H.E. Desirè Delano Bouterse President of the Republic of Suriname Paramaribo

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