A night to remember
The Prime Minister’s 14th Annual New Year’s Gala in the Grand Ballroom at the St. Kitts Marriott on Saturday night (Jan. 3) will live on in the memories of many for a long, long time.
From the jaw-dropping Geoffrey Hanley-inspired décor in red and white, to the splendiferous costumes worn by the near 800 female and male patrons, to the food, the drink, the music, the speeches, the international guests and the take-away memorabilia – this was a signature event.
And the pervading atmosphere of camaraderie between Kittitians and Nevisians at home, and returning nationals, signaled a new dispensation in cross-channel relations, and further concertized the December 18, 2014 “Be At One – Contract for Progress.”
“I have never felt it like this”, one middle-aged Kittitian male patron told me.
“The love was tangible,” a Nevisian female remarked.
Saturday night’s Gala was a Who’s Who in St. Kitts-Nevis, and beyond.
Joining the Prime Minister were: His Excellency the Governor General Sir Edmund Lawrence and Lady Lawrence, former Governor General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Earl Asim Martin and other members of the Federal Cabinet, former Premier of Nevis the Hon. Joseph Parry, former deputy premier Mr. Hensley Daniel, members of the diplomatic corps, Ambassador Jacinth Henry-Martin, featured speaker Mr. Desmond Roberts and Mrs. Roberts, Commissioner of Police Mr. C G Walwyn and Mrs. Walwyn, carnival winners including National Carnival Queen Ms. Tishima Browne, Calypso Monarch King Astro and Ms. Teen Talent Ms. Rikki Blake- Brookes, Ms. Culture Akeisha Fergus, State Scholar Ms. Chloe Williams, and outstanding national track athletes: Delwayne Delaney, Jason Rogers, Allister Clarke, Lestrod Roland and Antoine Adams.
On the international side there was journalist and former CNN contributor Mr. Roland S. Martin and his wife Mrs. Jacqueline-Hood Martin, Mrs. Christine Kennedy- General Manager of Network Planning for Delta Airlines and her husband Robert Kennedy, and Kittitian-born American filmmaker Mr. Rudy Langlais.
In delivering the New Year’s Toast, Prime Minister and SKN Pulse Man of the year 2014, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas said: “Today we can boast of being #1 in so many ways both regionally and internationally. We have continued to demonstrate that with hard work, dedication and sacrifice, we will continue to achieve, and that is what we will do from here onwards.”
“I want for us to appreciate that we are one. We are one nation, one people, yet of two different islands, but borderless islands,” the nation’s leader said.
“We are one people and that is why a few weeks ago (Dec. 18, 2014) we sat on Pinneys Beach and demonstrated the oneness between us, with the two leaders, the St. Kitts – Nevis Labour Party and the Nevis Reformation Party; Parry and Douglas together on stage demonstrating to the people of Nevis and the people of St. Kitts that we are one, and together we shall move as one to realize the aspirations and the goals of our people.”
The Prime Minister also intimated that the election date is drawing nigh, and said “I want to toast to the continued success of our country.”
Former premier Hon. Joseph Parry said, “it was a night of great connection and togetherness.”
The featured speaker, Kittitian-born Mr. Desmond Roberts, President of Advantage Chevrolet in Hodgkins Illinois, USA, speaking in a mixture of Standard English and the local dialect, reflected on his early and high school life in St. Kitts before migrating to the USA when he was 21. He drew on his experience in the automobile industry to draw an analogy of customer service, something he had witnessed first-hand while constructing a home on St. Kitts. Suggesting that we have got “some ways” to go where tourism and customer service are concerned, Roberts postulated that in the industry the Bahamas (the Caribbean’s leading tourism destination) is the Cadillac, while we were the Chevrolet, but with diligence and hard work we could become a Cadillac as well.
He urged nationals living in the Diaspora to invest in their homeland, and one way to do so was by constructing a home.
Musical entertainment was provided by KC 5, instrumentals by Dwight Huggins, and vocal renditions by the crème de la creme in St. Kitts and Nevis: song-bird Mrs. Carmella Lawrence affirmed “We’ve come thus far.” Others performers were: Nailah Daniel (one of the 2014 25 Most Remarkable Teens), former Ms. St.Kitts -Nevis Ms. Keeve Armstrong, Ms. Jewel Wattley and Calypso Monarch King Astro (Oscar Browne) doing “Carnival Therapy.”
To top it all off were the international acts.
The hilariously-funny Jamaican comedian Blakka, who had patrons in stitches as we approached the bewitching midnight hour. There were at least four moments of sobriety, however. The pint-sized Blakka on contemplating an inpending Federal elections said boldly “Prime Minister Douglas can’t lose” and characterised UNITY thus: Ugly Noises Incessantly Threatening You. He said further, that the Federation was so nice that ”in a new dispensation I want to become a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
In a motivational frame of mind, Blakka recounted an incident in his earlier life where Trevor Rhone, co-writer of signature Jamaican films “The harder they come” (1972) and “Smile Orange” (1974) discouraged him from pursuing a career in acting because he ‘lisped and stuttered’ – what Rhone termed speech impediments.
“Those are not speech impediments,” he said “those are speech peculiarities.”
“ Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t succeed,” Blakka said.
American Kevin McIlvaine, a multi-talented entertainer, singer, historian, model, actor, director and ordained minister who has traveled the world using his talents to please, was the featured artiste. McIlvaine who has featured at events on the US mainland like the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), appeared dressed in a white suit, and wowed the audience with a string of contemporary songs and old time favourites from Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and Jerry “Iceman” Butler delivered in a suave voice. Showing his appreciation for the organizers he serenaded chief organiser the Hon. Marcella Liburd – who was dressed in a stunning red off- the -shoulder organza gown – to Larry Graham’s 1980 hit single “One in a Million.”
Proving himself a ladies’ man, McIlvine walked from the stage into the audience and interacted with several female patrons.
Lucky patrons also won raffle prizes which included watches, a perfume set, a leather bag, tablets, a Samsung Galaxy S 5, a crystal jewelry box, dinners and bottles of champagnes – all compliments of corporate St. Kitts.
Showing his sense of occasion, co-host Juni Liburd of Freedom Radio, even celebrated a birthday on the day.
For my part, it was simply a pleasure, to have witnessed the mega event.
For producing this signature event, the Hon. Marcella Liburd and her organizing committee need to take a collective bow.