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'My husband Mr 'Melee' was a cultural icon’- Mrs Janice Nibbs-Blyden

- Emancipation Festival village opens in honour of Blyden
Janice Nibbs-Blyden cuts the ribbon to officially open the Emancipation Festival Village, named after the late Neil "Mr Melee" Blyden. Photo: VINO
Torch Light Procession entering the Emancipation Festival Village, to begin the opening ceremony last night, Monday July 31, 2017. Photo: VINO
Torch Light Procession entering the Emancipation Festival Village, to begin the opening ceremony last night, Monday July 31, 2017. Photo: VINO
Royal G. Dancers during their performance at the opening of the Emancipation Festival Village on Monday July 31, 2017. Photo: VINO
Royal G. Dancers during their performance at the opening of the Emancipation Festival Village on Monday July 31, 2017. Photo: VINO
Honourable Myron V. Walywn (left) and Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee (VIF&FC), Mr Trefor A. Grant (right) presenting a plaque to Honourable Alvera Maduro-Caines (R6) (centre) for her dedication in the cultural development of the Emancipation Festival throughout the years. Photo: VINO
Honourable Myron V. Walywn (left) and Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee (VIF&FC), Mr Trefor A. Grant (right) presenting a plaque to Honourable Alvera Maduro-Caines (R6) (centre) for her dedication in the cultural development of the Emancipation Festival throughout the years. Photo: VINO
The Callaloo Poets led by April Glasgow reciting a poem during the Emancipation Festival Village opening ceremony held on Monday July 31, 2017. Photo: VINO
The Callaloo Poets led by April Glasgow reciting a poem during the Emancipation Festival Village opening ceremony held on Monday July 31, 2017. Photo: VINO
Janice Nibbs-Blyden (centre) accepting a plaque on behalf of her late husband, Neil 'Mr Melee' Blyden. Photo: VINO
Janice Nibbs-Blyden (centre) accepting a plaque on behalf of her late husband, Neil 'Mr Melee' Blyden. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Lashing Dogs led the Torch Light Procession from the FirstCaribbean International Bank parking lot, to the Neil “Mr Melee” A. Blyden Festiville in Road Town for the opening ceremony of the sixty-third Virgin Islands Emancipation Festival on Monday July 31, 2017.

The Torch Light Procession and the opening ceremony got off to a late start, as the rain began to pour. However, once the parade was at its destination, the ceremony remembering the late Neil Bylden got underway. Mr Blyden, who died on January 1, 2017, was instrumental in the territory’s cultural development.

The ceremony kicked off with remarks from the Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee (VIF&FC), Mr Trefor A. Grant.

He said, “Tonight is aptly dubbed cultural night and this is a night we ensure that we highlight the reason for our celebration. Our emancipation celebration takes us back to remember from whence we came; the celebration of being free. We wanted to highlight our emancipation. We wanted to highlight our culture. We wanted to highlight you and to remember a very good person.”

Dr the Honorable D. Orlando Smith (AL), Premier and Minister of Finance, encouraged the Virgin Islands people to reflect on the past and to draw inspiration and look to the future with optimism, adding that it is fitting that the festival village is being named after Mr Blyden, who was very passionate about the Virgin Islands’ culture.

Bitter sweet moment

Director of Culture, Mrs Luce Hodge-Smith stated that the honouring of Mr Blyden is a bitter sweet moment for his family, friends and members of the VIF&FC.

“We are grateful for Neil’s efforts. He was a promoter, marketer and just a good old-fashion gentleman.”

She further stated that Mr Blyden lived in New York for a number of years. Then he returned to the territory and in 1989, he was encouraged by Dr Charles Wheatley, to work with the BVI Festival Committee as it was known then. That year he was responsible for the festival booklet and solicitation of advertisement. He worked as the Programme Director at ZBVI for a number of years.

In her remarks, Mrs. Janice Nibbs-Blyden, widow of the late Mr Blyden, expressed that she was extremely proud to accept the plaque that was given in her late husband’s honour. Mrs Nibbs-Blyden pointed out that her husband meant “many things to many different people” in the Virgin Islands.

“To the business community, he was a creative advertiser. To the bands he was sometimes their nemeses and he was also a music consultant. He was the organizer of the Christmas light contest… Music was spread to all levels of society, from the top echelon down to the poorest person made money. He made sure local music got its day. Most of all he was a cultural icon. He made sure that BVI culture was represented in any way that he could.”

Honourable Myron V. Walywn (AL), Minister for Education and Culture, during his remarks explained that “a kaleidoscope is an instrument which retracts light into many wonderful colours, designs and patterns,” adding that the metaphor best recognized the changes that is taking place within the Virgin Islands.

The ceremony concluded with the cutting of the ribbon by Janice Nibbs-Blyden, Ministers, VIF&FC, honourees and royalties.

The ceremony saw lively performances by Sounds of Steel BVI, Royal G. Dancers, Monique Chapdelain, the Callaloo Poets and the BVI Heritage Dancers.

Today August 1, 2017, several local bands will take the stage to deliver the best that the Virgin Islands has to offer. This evening will see performances from Kylo and the Stylee band, OMG and BDJ among others.

3 Responses to “'My husband Mr 'Melee' was a cultural icon’- Mrs Janice Nibbs-Blyden”

  • Windy (01/08/2017, 08:21) Like (3) Dislike (12) Reply
    More of the same!
    • Samefreedom (01/08/2017, 08:54) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
      And each day you are enjoying more of the same freedom your ancestors fought for. Let our culture progress and start being grateful. Perhaps you can add your diversity to make it different or leave the organizers alone.


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