By Flynn Bush
Each year, at this time of year, the National festival of the Cayman Islands seems to spark discussion and inspire opinion-spewing from many members of the community. From the very beginning, Pirates Week was met with some opposition, especially from those who feel that the pirate lifestyle is not worthy to be glorified in this beloved country. These opinions obviously clash with those of the people who look forward to this festival and who take part in it with much zeal. The issue itself is not just a cut-and-dry one, however.
This reporter wrote a piece on this very topic a few back, and in it I put forward both sides’ arguments. It was evident at the time, much like it is now, that regardless of the opinions of others, the festival would continue for the foreseeable future. Then, last year, the Pirates Week committee delivered a proverbial slap-in-the-mouth by announcing the decision to eliminate the individual district days in favor of one Heritage Day in George Town.
However, as we look at the festival as it is organized this year, it appears that some of the arguments against Pirates Week have made some headway. As was stated before, there has always been a significant number of individuals who feel that the focus of the festival should be changed to highlight our nation’s heritage and that the district days should be the primary vehicles for such a focus. With those gone last year, things hit a boiling point. Then, in an apparent attempt to appease those sentiments, the committee decided to allow each district to host their own Heritage Day; as they had always done until they were omitted last year.
At first glance, this decision would seem like somewhat of an attempt to correct a wrong. However, the feedback from the community has been varied. There are some who are overjoyed that they will once again be able to attend East End Day, West Bay Day, Bodden Town Day, and so forth; sampling the wares and soaking in the culture of years gone by. On the other hand, there are many who say that the fact that these district days were not advertised adequately, and that they are not scheduled during the main week of the festival, only reinforces the message that pirates, partying and reveling are more important than our country’s history and culture. Some even say that the district days appear to have been just an afterthought until a short time before this event. These same critics, however, give credit to the district committees for pulling together and organizing their days.
Let it be known that those among us who have called for more heritage and less pirates have not changed their opinion. The belief that a nation’s culture and history are important to preserve and pass on to each new generation still holds strong. The Pirates Week Committee have made decisions regarding this festival and the extent to which heritage is included and it should now be evident that any decision that limits or eliminates culture and history will come back to haunt them. However, simply paying lip-service to our past with a few short-notice district days will not be sufficient to satisfy this contingent of Caymanians.