Nine Morning Festival launched in Heritage Square
by Bria King
Mothers with babies strapped to their chests, men speaking animatedly under tents and children dancing excitedly at the front of the stage to local parang, were all witnesses to this year’s launch of the Nine Mornings festival.
The launch took place on Sunday at Heritage Square with its usual three-part celebration of a march around Kingstown, an official ceremony and community group song competition.
Orande ‘Bomani’ Charles, the new chairman of the SVG Nine Mornings Committee, said that the festival has immense tourism potential and deep cultural significance.
He added that the committee has over the last year, been work
working to ensure that the festival continues as an important cultural heritage experience.
“Looking ahead, we feel a great sense of responsibility to usher the festival into the future for generations unborn to enjoy. At this juncture, we seek to build on the solid foundation that has been laid for us whilst exploring all the new possibilities that exist and the potential for the festival to evolve,” Charles said.
The Chairman said the committee has already been witnessing the expansion of Nine Mornings into the rural communities and spawning other activities, like Nine Night at the Botanic Gardens.
And he said that this helps to enhance the overall Christmas experience in this country.
Cecil McKie, the tourism minister initiated the countdown that saw lights being turned on in Heritage Square and the official start of the season.
But before he did, McKie, in brief remarks, said that the hope is to attract at least 15,000 people to St Vincent and the Grenadines to share in the festivities.
“Last December, we had 12,000 visitors coming to the destination. This year, we will see if we can increase those numbers to 15,000 because if we look at the flights, and don’t forget we now have international flights coming from Canada and the USA — if we look at the reality that these flights are all filled, I don’t think it is beyond us to get 15,000, coming to St Vincent and the Grenadines this year,” he said.
The tourism minister said that culture is integral to tourism and tourism is the backbone of this country’s economy, therefore Vincentians should celebrate in a special way.
McKie further challenged Vincentians to identify with the Nine Mornings product and do their part in helping to develop the festival even more.
“…This festival belongs to you and you and you, it belongs to all of us,” he said.
This year, a French television company will visit SVG to feature aspects of the Nine Mornings festival.
Sunday’s launch included performances from Ronnie Richardson, Shaunelle McKenzie, Rondy ‘Luta’ McIntosh and Carlton ‘CP’ Hall.
Eight community groups from Owia, Richland Park, Stubbs, Fitz Hughes, Barrouallie, Point, Rose Bank and Troumaca also competed in the song competition.
Sponsors of the festival include the National Lotteries Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture, St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd, Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Flow, National Insurance Services, Building and Loan, GECCU, Teacher’s Cooperative Credit Union, CWSA, the New York diaspora committee, Friends of Sion Hill, VC3, NBC radio, Mustique Company and Coreas Hazells Inc.