|© UNICEF/2009/ Akuamoah|
|Digital Diarist Bernice Akuamoah spent several months in Guyana working with UNICEF.|
NEW YORK, USA, 16 June 2009 – After enduring centuries of colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean emerged with one of the richest blends of cultures in the world. Throughout the region, Africans, Europeans, east and south Asians, and indigenous Americans are mixing the old ways with the new, creating a dynamic incubator for artists, dancers and musicians.
Since 1970, the roving festival called 'Carifesta' has celebrated the unique mix of arts and culture in the Caribbean and Latin America. Recently, Guyana hosted the 10th edition of the festival, and UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth Digital Diarist Bernice Akuamoah was there to take in the celebration.
A cultural Olympics
At the opening ceremonies, in the main stadium in Guyana, all the participants in Carifesta joined together in a parade of nations to showcase the music and dance of their respective countries.
“It’s like the cultural Olympics for the Caribbean,” one attendee told Bernice. “There are a lot of young people; a lot of children. There are over 1,000 participants and they’ve been rehearsing for a long time.”
But what Bernice found most remarkable were the similarities between her own culture in Ghana and the cultures being showcased by the artists.
“I see the men from Trinidad, and they have on the African print cloth – the ones we use back home in Ghana,” she said. “And you find there are Indians, there are Chinese, and there is every ethnic group or race in the Caribbean."
Unity from a shared struggle
“The Caribbean is like a melting pot for all different cultures from all different parts of the world,” said Andrea, one of Bernice’s friends from Guyana. “That’s a result of how the people came together. And now we’re here to celebrate how unique we are and how we can be united.”
As the steel bands played on in the warm Guyanese night, Bernice, too, began to feel united with the Caribbean and Latin American people.
“This time around I cease to be Ghanaian,” she said. “Instead I am Guyanese so I can dance with everybody.”
Voices of Youth and UNICEF Radio’s Digital Diarist Bernice Akuamoah marvels at the mix of cultures showcased at Guyana's 10th annual 'Carifesta'.