By Nadia James-Harris (GIS)
It was a cultural journey from past Virgin Islands traditions to the present as the British Virgin Islands and United States Virgin Islands celebrated the 42nd anniversary of BVI-USVI Friendship Day on Saturday, October 24, under the theme “The Greater Virgin Islands: The Identity and Ingenuity of Our People.”
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE welcomed the USVI delegation led by Governor Kenneth E. Mapp and stated that the annual celebrations recognise the longstanding friendship and neighbourly relations between the two territories, and it allows Virgin Islanders to embrace the future together.
The Premier said, “Today we are celebrating the identity and ingenuity of our people. This is the resourcefulness of our forefathers that has given birth to our distinct, common heritage, music, foods and culture.”
He added that it is the use of nature and God-given skills to innovate, foster inter-island trade and to share with those around us, which have all led to the survival and signal the resilience of Virgin Islanders as a people.
Premier Smith said, “We see the ingenuity of Virgin Islanders in our signature sloops, in the structure of our homes and our use of local herbs and bushes to cure ailments. Our ingenuity is reflected in the unique taste of our locally made foods and drink, and — as the young people would say — the vibe of our music, just to name a few”.
Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, Mr. Kenneth E. Mapp said that he is committed to ensuring continued collaborations with the Government of the Virgin Islands on issues of mutual interest.
Patrons were treated to cultural performances by the Lashing Dogs and the St. George’s Liturgical Dancers, along with reflections of traditional boat-building, house building and road building. There was also an interview segment with featured entrepreneurs GreenCrete VI, Gorvey Henry Cakes and Tréfle Designs, which showcased the ingenuity of the present.
Over the years, a number of issues and policy areas have been discussed with mutually beneficial solutions for both territories between the official deliberations at Inter-Virgin Islands Conference/Council Meetings and the Friendship Day celebrations.
Since its inception in 1972, activities to mark Friendship Day have evolved into a more relaxed cultural celebration reflective of true friendship, as the two territories alternate hosting the annual celebration.