After the Virgin Islands of the United States last April-May, St Kitts & Nevis will be the second Caribbean territory to celebrate its carnival virtually. By digitizing Sugar Mas, the government also hopes to promote this major cultural event of the country abroad.
On October 2, Jonel Powell, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture of Saint Kitts & Nevis, addressed the general public on television and Facebook to announce that the country’s carnival – which usually takes place between late November and early January – would be different this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “The reality of Covid-19 is that times are uncertain and challenging”, he said.
Thus, events such as Jouvert, Grande Parade and Last Lap, drawing thousands of revellers through the streets of the capital, Basseterre, as well as some contests will be cancelled altogether. This decision was taken in consultation with all the partners that organize carnival in order to avoid the spread of the virus and to preserve the health of all.
However, it was no question of completely cancelling the 49th edition of Sugar Mas, since the residents will be able to enjoy some of the events at home and in front of their screens. “Our national carnival was established with the aim of highlighting our arts, music and folklore and in so doing, uniting our people. As such the committee along with its partners intends to create virtual events that are new and creative as well as scaled back activities for the end of year celebration. This new virtual format will allow the Saint Kitts and Nevis carnival committee to showcase our unique carnival product to our citizens and residents and a more diverse global audience“, Minister Powell explained.
Various contests on stage
Since Minister Powell’s statement, the Carnival Committee, in partnership with the Creative Industries Department, has been working to develop an attractive calendar for carnival-goers. “This will showcase unique elements of culture and include aspects of the Christmas festivities,” the minister said, but this virtual programme has not yet been published. It is, however, possible to guess at its content through the events that are already announced.
Thus, on November 5, registration for the National Carnival Queen Pageant and the National Carnival Swimsuit competitions has started for the 50th anniversary of national carnival; it will end on December 7.
No Sugar Mas without good Caribbean music played by the country’s artists. A competition, “Calypso Tents”, will be held between November 14 and December 5. The show will be broadcast from 8:00 pm on radio, television, the Sugar Mas website and social networks with the participation of more than ten artists.
DJs have not been forgotten as they will be able to express themselves in the “Tune For Tune” competition. Registration will be accepted at the National Carnival Secretariat until November 13.
It should be said that Sugar Mas wants to be popular and participative so, on October 6, the Carnival Committee has launched an appeal to all artists (dancers, singers, musicians), folklore groups, owners of “sound systems”, Djs, event planners, judges and volunteers to contribute to this online carnival, a first for the nation.
A need to redefine Sugar Mas
All these cultural events and those to be announced later will be carried out in the spirit of the slogan: “Carnival Celebrations Redefined for Sugar Mas 49”. It was found by a young woman who participated in the slogan contest launched by the Carnival Committee and, on October 19, the lucky winner received her prize, $500 EC, from the Director of Carnival. 250 people took part in this competition.
It is clear that the cancellation of the traditional events of Sugar Mas 49 is a huge loss of income for the country. This digitization of the major cultural event is certainly seen as an investment and an opportunity for its promotion abroad by the government of Saint Kitts & Nevis.
“We look forward to presenting sugar mas 49 in its new format to carnival lovers locally, regionally and internationally in a way that it has never been done before and God willing celebrate our 50th in grand style in 2021″, the Minister of Culture concluded.
So, let us hope that the nightmare caused by this coronavirus will by then become a bad memory for the Caribbean and the rest of the planet.