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Community Voice: Cayman Sundays, a day of rest

Community 06 May, 2020 Follow News

Community Voice: Cayman Sundays, a day of rest

Those of us who grew up in the old days of the 1950's and 1960's will know that Sunday was first of all a day of rest and church attendance.

This was the day when everything stopped. We were not allowed to even play the little transistor radio that my brother brought us when he returned from sea in the early 1960's.

Although we loved to go to the seaside in West Bay, my father's rule was if you want to bathe in the sea on Sundays, you would go before church in the morning. Over the years my sisters and I pleaded with our Mama to let us go in the afternoon around 3pm. She would agree reluctantly, telling us that we must come back early as we would be required in the church choir at 7pm. So, many times, we appeared with our wet hair (no blow-dryers dem days, chile) and our Mom's salutation, "your father would turn in his grave, if he could see you".

My Dad, of blessed memory, sadly died in 1960 on what should have been his last trip at sea. He left my Mom with a grocery store, bakery and ice cream shop, the latter of which opened only on Saturday afternoons and evenings, as well as cattle and land. There were five of us, my brother, my three sisters and I, us girls aged between 6 and 15 years, me being the youngest.

My Mom would eventually close the family business and manage Cayman's first drug store, Cayman Drug in George Town, situated at that time, next to the old By-Rite, just opposite the Courts buildings.

And so it was that Sunday was a complete day of rest. After lunch at mid-day, we had Our Sunday rest, our heads on cushions with the front door open to catch the breeze.

In our homes, now, my siblings and I still respect and observe Sundays as do many Caymanians and residents, particularly from the Caribbean and the USA. Sundays are for rest, church and fellowship.

Of late, fifty plus years on, it seems Sundays are for running various races and, biking, boating and even working. This is very strange to many of us and speaks of the great price of "progress".

During the times of Covid-19, many of us love the hush of Sundays, the quiet meandering of life, electronic church services and phone chats with loved ones.

It is, as many of us believe, a time to pause and review what we really would like our post Covid island to look and feel like.

The Leader of the Opposition, in the Caymanian Times article of April 29th refers to resetting the clock on the huge issue of work permits.

I must say that I, too, believe this is timely for the good of our people. We cannot be all things to all people and I am often dismayed at how our population of Caymanians are becoming marginalised in our own country.

Yes, we need economic income but at what price? We cannot get from our homes to town, our transport system is overwhelmed, our infrastructure and essential services like garbage disposal are stressed, and we are caught up in providing cheap labour for businesses which often pay lip service to the country's needs.

Indeed, one British human resource manager had the mistaken belief to say on a Radio Cayman mid-day show that our culture would actually benefit by increasing work permits. He also demanded to know how we would be able to afford to pay for cultural programmes in our schools unless this was done. According to him, the additional income gained would pay for more cultural programmes in the schools. An increase in the number of work permit holders in our society was therefore, from a cultural perspective, a very positive thing.

It is my view, and that of many educators, that the primary component of a people's culture is first and foremost one of everyday experience. Undergirding this vital experience is the passing down in the home of cultural elements (like cooking Caymanian meals, Caymanian stories and such) and parental expectations and guidance. Also important is the teaching of our culture in more formal settings like schools. But the teaching about our culture in schools, however comprehensive and thorough, cannot ever serve as the primary source of information and understanding, nor can it ever replace an absence of everyday experience.

A rapid diluting of the presence of Caymanian culture in our society can therefore never be viewed as anything positive. Of course societies and the characteristics that go to defining their particular "culture" evolve and change over time. But such changes are best when incremental and natural, and such needs to be the case here in our beloved Cayman Islands as for everywhere else.

Our children are bombarded daily more than ever by messages which may cause them to question their own beliefs. The best place to ensure their understanding of themselves must begin in the home.

The recent jingle competion by the Ministry of Culture sets out very culturally sound guidelines and is all inclusive. This is an example of how we can promote our Caymanian culture while inviting those from other cultures to embrace and enjoy it.

It is time that we become bold and stand up for our way of life as Caymanians. We must encourage our government to examine and improve ways of reducing our dependence on a primarily overseas work force.

The time of Covid-19 should be a time of serious reflection and prayerful planning.

As with Cayman Sundays of old, let's pause and think this through. It behoves us to do this at this time of great opportunity.

Nyda Flatley


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