PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Chairman of the Host Country Management Committee (HCMC), Ivan Graanoogst, has disclosed that 24 countries have so far confirmed their participation in the festival, but that this number is expected to rise to 30 countries by August 16.
Speaking at a weekly breakfast with the press at the headquarters of CARIFESTA XI in Paramaribo, Suriname, Graanoogst said the Caribbean Festival of Arts and Culture was meant to highlight Caribbean culture and Suriname as the host country. The weekly breakfast will be used to inform the press about preparations for CARIFESTA XI.
According to Graanoogst, “Participating countries are expected to pay for their contingent’s transportation to and accommodation in Suriname. The various contingents are expected to give their very best performances. Our responsibility is to make them feel welcome and at home while in Suriname.”
He further disclosed that Haiti will be the next CARIFESTA host and will participate in CARIFESTA XI with a world famous dance group. President Michel Martelly has indicated that he would personally head the Haitian contingent to CARIFESTA XI.
Graanoogst called on the assembled press to inform the population about CARIFESTA XI and noted that CARIFESTA XI will not only take place in Paramaribo, but will be spread to all ten districts by way of community festivals.
“This means that we will have to conduct a massive logistical operation, which not only accommodates the Surinamese participants, but also ensures that our guests arrive on time and are provided with everything they need to perform at the designated venues,” he said.
Graanoogst added that the CARIFESTA XI Youth Village, which is being built at the Wil Axwijk Sport Centrum in Paramaribo, will provide youths from the participating contingents with an added incentive to take part in the activities organized by youth focus.
“We want to start the Youth Village activities with a bang,” he said, indicating that Wycliffe Jean and DJ Chuckie are among those who have been contacted to contribute to Carifesta XI.
“You should know that 75 percent of the world’s most famous disc jockeys have Surinamese roots,” Graanoogst added, highlighting the importance of recognizing Surinamese art and culture.
Graanoogst also informed the press that the focus will be on Suriname during the next Festival del Fuego in Santiago de Cuba in 2014.
Coordinator of the Surinamese contingent for CARIFESTA XI, Siegmien Staphorst, said that Suriname will be participating in all aspects of CARIFESTA XI. According to Staphorst, Suriname will pay special attention to the visual arts during CARIFESTA XI, starting with the opening ceremony “Welcome to Suriname” and highlighting among other things the exclusive woodcarving in the villages Pikin Slee and Nieuw Aurora in the Upper Suriname River area.
Dance and music from all ethnic groups in the country have been incorporated into the Surinamese productions she said, adding that, apart from traditional, classical, martial arts and modern experimental dances, performances of next generation Surinamese dancers and choreographers will also be included in presentations by the Surinamese contingent.
Additionally, there will be a Kawina/Kaskawi event including workshops in schools and performances by various ethnic groups which will culminate in the crowning of the Best Kawina Band in Suriname, Staphorst said.
She asked that attention be given to the filmmakers workshop which is due to start in the next week and called for the participation of Surinamese artists in the Diaspora.
Jazz diva Denise Jannah, the IKO Foundation, Wycliffe Jean, the Cuban Tropicana Ballet, the Jamaican No-Maddz, the Haitian Bacoulou Dance Company and Shaolin Monks from China, are part of a star-studded program currently being prepared for CARIFESTA XI, which will be fine-tuned during the coming weeks.