St. Croix’s Fall Heritage Festival

In the article “Festival Recalls Rich, Sometimes Dark, History of Botanical Garden,” Jackie Leedy (St. Croix Source) focuses on how the rich history of St. Croix was celebrated last weekend at the 2nd Annual Fall Heritage Festival at the St. George Village Botanical Garden. The Heritage Festival brought hundreds together for an afternoon of delicious local foods, folkloric music, dances, and history, organized under this year’s theme, “Recognizing the History of St. George: Remembering Those Individuals Who Lived and Worked Here.” The article highlights a lecture by historian George Tyson, who spoke about the world of sugar plantations, slavery, and their legacy in St. Croix.

The day started off when Junie Bomba Allick blew a traditional conch shell call to gather the crowd and begin the event. Allick was also selling his beautiful hand carved conch shells. Bully and the Musical Kafooners played Quelbe music in the Great Hall [. . .].

Finally, after hours of walking the gardens and learning about its various historical aspects, a large crowd settled down to listen to historian George Tyson talk about the enslaved population that once lived on the grounds. Tyson explained that during the 18th and 19th centuries, there were between 10,000 and 15,000 enslaved people literally working their bodies to death on the sugar plantations throughout the island. “The fact that we can trace these people from the 1760s and follow them for years and decades is quite unique,” Tyson said.

Tyson is working to create a database going back hundreds of years so Crucians can see and tell their life stories from a historical aspect. He and ChenziRa “Dr. Chen” Kahina, wanted to give voices to the enslaved people because their stories Tyson said, have impacted all of us.

Kahina’s Per Ankh Dance Troupe then came out and wowed the crowd with the most poignant show of the afternoon. The lives of six enslaved persons who lived at the gardens were acted out and dramatized to depict their real-life stories, to the beat of the drum.

[Many thanks to Don Walicek for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2011/10/09/festival-recalls-rich-sometimes-dark-history-botanical-garden

Photo: “Per Ankh Performer” by photographer Donald Diddams; see http://diddamsdigitalart.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/per-ankh-performance/

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