In that song, Meeko captured every aspect of the festivities, including the involvement of the scores of Kittitians who make the journey every year, to join in the celebration.
But just as Culturama was given birth in 1974 in a cloud of controversy, the festival remains today mired in the political and social quagmire that has always lurked in the dark shadows of intra-island rivalry, fueled largely by politicians.
The latest conflict reared its head on Thursday 1st August, when rumoured threats by some circles on St. Kitts, started to emerge, indicating that attempts were being made at very high levels to create an Emancipation J’ouvert in Basseterre, to stop the flow of ordinary Kittitians, across the narrows, for the early morning jam session in Charlestown, as the Culturama activities move into high gear.
Whether this is true or not, one thing that is certain is that Nevis is again on fire for Culturama, as the people engage in the activities for the 39th Anniversary. Hundreds have already started to make the short journey across to the sister island from all parts of St. Kitts. The inter-island ferries have been working around the clock to facilitate the patrons in their large numbers, who are heading to “Queen City”.
Not only are they moving via the city to city ferries, like Sea Hustler, Caribe Breeze, Mark Twain, and others, the operators of the Sea Bridge too have had to be making extra runs to accommodate the hundreds of vehicles travelling from St. Kitts.
Hotels have also been reporting “sold out” booking status with Kittitians helping to boost the occupancy levels of all major hotels, villas and guest houses. Securing a hotel accommodation this weekend is near impossible, if you were a late planner.
Car rentals, restaurants, the Saturday Food Fair in Charlestown and the long stretch of bars on Pinney’s Beach have been thriving with customers from St. Kitts.
Nevis is not known for traffic jams, but all weekend this has been the experience at the peak hours as residents share the narrow roads with the “Kittitian tourists”.
Folklore groups, musical bands and other entertainers are also on island making their contribution to what Nevisians like to call “ah we cul-cha”.
Over the years it has become obvious that the Emancipation Weekend of Culturama creates a huge boost in the local economy where millions of dollars, mostly from St. Kitts, are spend in the week of the festival.
Any rival Emancipation Weekend celebration on St. Kitts would therefore greatly hurt the already struggling economy of Nevis. It would appear however, that they would escape such threat given the hive of activities and huge influx already being experienced.
The weekend’s major events include the Calypso Show on Saturday, Miss Culture Pageant on Sunday, Miss Caribbean Culture Pageant on Monday Night and J’ouvert on Monday morning followed Tuesday by the parade of troupes and bands in the capital Charlestown.
It seems therefore that the words of Meeko from 20 years ago are still ringing out today…and it will be on Monday, with the J’ouvert, that the sweating bodies of thousands of revelers will set the town on fire in a blaze of street jamming putting ”Nevis on fire, for Culturama!”