by Bina Mani
The Cayman Islands House of Parliament celebrated the 50th anniversary of its building in grand style on Thursday, 21 July 2022 with an elaborate and distinguished programme. To befit the noteworthy occasion, the programme comprised a special lecture, music, dance, poetry, a comedic skit, free food and beverages.
For half a century, the iconic building has served as the People’s House where voters’ representatives have conducted the nation’s business, including making the laws that govern the people of the Cayman Islands and approving budgets. The building has therefore figured prominently in every significant development impacting the Cayman Islands and has been the backdrop for many historical milestones.
A fitting marker at the celebration was the unveiling of the 50th anniversary plaque by the House’s Presiding Officer - the Speaker Hon. McKeeva Bush; the Premier, Hon. G. Wayne Panton; the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks and Clerk of Parliament, Mrs. Zena Merren-Chin.
A commemorative booklet capturing the rich parliamentary history and prominence of the building to the Cayman Islands was also issued to those who attended the event. Additionally, a painting of the building characterised by the events that took place was created on the spot as part of the programme by famed local artist Mr. John Broad and presented to the Speaker at the close of the celebration.
For Parliamentarians, the celebrations began earlier in the afternoon inside the Parliament Chamber with a special erudite lecture on the “Separation of Powers – the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary” by eminent constitutional scholar Dr. the Hon. Lloyd Barnett from Jamaica and a presentation by local attorney Mr. Richard Barton who provided the Cayman Islands’ context on the subject.
This was followed by the celebratory programme outside emceed by Acting Deputy Governor, Hon. Gloria McField-Nixon, who welcome attendees and kept the proceedings lively.
The programme included prayer by Education, District Administration and Lands Minister Hon Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the history of the House by the Premier, a memorial by the Speaker of the House, recognition of living former MPs by Tourism and Transport Minister Hon. Kenneth Bryan and a vote of thanks by the Deputy Speaker.
The entertainment programme was a heart-warming display of rich in local talent featuring the distinct steel pan cadences of Mr. Jimmeh La’Pierre; the National Anthem and a song by the Cayman National Choir directed by Ms Sue Horrocks and a melodious rendition of the National Song by Ms Diana DeMercado. There were evocative songs by a staff and parents’ group from the Joanna Clarke Primary School, Mrs. Betty Ebanks and family and the Cayman Folk Singers, as well as delightful dances by the Dreamchasers and Sir John A. Cumber Primary School students.
Continuing, Ms Alanna Warrick-Smith gave an emotional recitation of a poem by local poet Mrs. Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette entitled ‘Tell Me’. Inimitable local entertainer Mr. Matt Brown and friends brought good humour to the proceedings with a political satire in the Cayman Islands’ “Rundown” fashion that was hugely appreciated by the audience.
Also, topping off the variety programme was a grand fireworks display. Finally, a live performance by Cayman Islands’ landmark entertainer, Mr. Lammie Seymour closed out the programme.