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King Culture

Dickson Igwe (right) with Acting Director of Youth Affairs and Sports Brenda Lettsome-Tye. Photo: Provided
Dickson Igwe

A country’s culture is “a very big deal indeed.” In fact, culture comes out of a country’s history, geography, and demography. Consequently, culture is a form of living history. Culture is the software of community. It enables the effective functioning of society. Culture paints upon the national tapestry the values and norms, and the rules and customs of yesteryear. It blends these “precious offerings” into modernity. Culture enriches and empowers.

Culture produces the values and norms that guide everyday life. In fact, culture enables leaders to define an appropriate and relevant national vision for a country which in turn impacts every institution. Culture is a guide to residents and citizens. It governs life from the minutiae to the abstract. How, we dress, how we relate to each other, how we eat, what type of pleasures we engage in, our buying habits, and even sanitation and hygiene. Culture is about national behaviour.

The key channels for culture to impact society are institutional. For example, culture influences the education curriculum and process. It impacts the teaching of children by exposing children to various aspects of Virgin Islands history.

Churches transmit culture to congregants from the pulpit. This is especially so in these magnificent Virgin Islands. Religion and church are embedded into the Virgin Islands cultural DNA.

Culture is transmitted through governance: Rule of Law, legislation, and national policymaking.

Through festivals and carnivals, music and dance, food and drink, handicraft and craft making, and so on and so forth, culture is the link to the past with the promise of a bright tomorrow.

That is why subjects such as world history and western civilisation are critical academic subjects in many countries. These disciplines provide the wider easel upon which specific societies define and refine their cultures and values sets.

Culture impacts various organisations. This in turn impacts the thinking and behaviour of managers and employees. Culture is ubiquitous. Culture is also intangible. Culture is a type of national branding. And culture is seen in tangible things.

A wholesome culture that is accepted and adopted by a country’s citizens is a highway to peace, security, happiness, and prosperity. Culture is the map that shows the route to El Dorado. Countries that are wise in adopting wholesome aspects of their cultures and placing them on their national fabrics, experience greater cohesion and social stability. There is a blueprint for everyone to follow. Culture is that blueprint.

Culture is the product of complex filtering. It is a filtering that begins with a country’s historical narrative. It is also the product of geography and demography and how these crucial components of a country fit in with the country’s history. Consequently understanding and interpreting the culture of one’s own jurisdiction is not an option. Culture is about quality of life.

On November 14, 2016 the Minister for Education and Culture of the Virgin Islands Honourable Myron V. Walwyn stated the following in relation to Culture Week. “Particularly for our young people, I wish to state the importance of understanding that culture is not static, our culture is always evolving, but there are some fundamental things our forefathers have left us.

Our heritage gives us our mores and values, our tenacity and willingness to work hard for what we have, to find solutions, and move forward for the development of our country. These we must hold dear and never lose. This is what has made us the people we are and the foundation on which we must continue to build.”

The Education and Culture Leader further stated that, “Culture in any society is dynamic. It evolves as time marches on. Our culture in the 70s was very different from what it is today or what it was even in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. With each new generation and influences on our islands in the age of globalisation, our culture will continue to evolve and we must embrace the new that is found in bands like VIBE and Razor Blades, just as we did with bands of yesteryear, like Caribbean Ecstasy and Lashing Dogs.’’

Our Heritage is a constant reminder of who we are as a people. Our sayings, cuisine, way of life, art, music and sense of self comes from a deep experience born from the struggles of our ancestors in Africa, during slavery and the post slavery decades.

Our heritage is our expression of ways of living, developed by our people that have been passed on from generation to generation, including our customs, our practices, our artistic expressions, our music, our writings, and most importantly our values.

This Old boy could not have put it any better.

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