Voices Of The Past Speak At Festival Opening

BVI Platinum News | 2 Comments
August 04, 2018 2:24 pm AST
“Don’t ever underestimate an honest, hardworking BVI woman,” Rochelle Smith declared in a monologue that brought to life the powerful voice of Perreen Georges, the free black woman that helped in the conviction of the infamous slave master Arthur Hodge.

For more than a century, Perreen’s story was barely told, but in a historical awaken, the 2018 Emancipation Festival opened, giving this Virgin Islands heroine a voice, her truth was amplified, and many in the Territory now know who she was.

Against the backdrop of the culinary sights and smell of the annual Cultural Food Fair, Smith stood on the platform channeling Perreen, and taking a new generation of Virgin Islanders back to a time in their history that gave birth to this annual celebration.

Smith began the historical journey stating, “You may have heard of Hariett Tubman…but BVIslanders, Caribbean people, you need to learn my name and remember it well. I am Perreen Georges and my testimony helped send a wicked slave master to the gallows and contributed to the end of slavery in the British Colonies in the Caribbean.”

Perreen, who lived in her own home, recounted the horrors she saw on various occasions when she went to Hodge’s Bellevue Estate. Through Smith, Perreen’s voice beamed with pride as she recounted testifying to three justice of peace, and signing her deposition, which resulted in the hanging of Hodge. Her testimony spoke of how Hodge killed the slaves Tom Boiler, Prosper, Cuffy, Margaret and Else.

The monologue was one of two historical pieces performed at the opening ceremony on August 3.

The second piece was a dialogue between two Virgin Islands women as they rehashed the foiled 1831 island-wide rebellion.

The riveting conversation captured the worry for those who were named as conspirators, and the “uncles” who would have become the leaders of the Territory if the revolt had succeeded.

Reference was even made of Mr. Martin, the famed plantation owner who had many mistresses and fathered children by them.

 The Opening Ceremony

Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Acting Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering invited the entire community to come out and celebrate the festival celebration. Hon. Pickering also asked the community to patronize the vendors who made a great effort to be part of the annual event.

The Acting Premier reflected on the disasters of 2017 and said, “Our very presence out here this afternoon shows our ability to adapt to the changing times to the environment. As I look at the crowd here, I see hope, I see a people with resilience. I see a people capable of striving in the most difficult of situations, and that is the culture of the people of the Virgin Islands. The same fighting spirit of our ancestors, is the same reason why this Territory will continue to thrive.”

Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn said that the cultural aspect of the Virgin Islands will remain present throughout the festivities. He further mentioned that cultural artifacts will be on display at the Village.

“As Minister responsible for Youth Affairs and Culture, I continue to engage and commit to the work of the Ministry in seeking opportunities to celebrate our past,” Hon. Walwyn announced.
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2 Comments
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#Youwillneverunderstand
We have a rich history that is not something that our children learn in school. Who we are are important
Like · · 1w
1 Like
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Old School
This was a wonderful idea that should be built upon. Our emancipation celebrations should act as a reminder to what our foreparents endured so that the younger generation can better appreciate how far we came.
Like · · 1w
1 Like
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