Students of Cayman Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist institution from K – 12, put books aside on Wednesday, 16th October, to celebrate a Caymanian Cultural and Heritage Day. The opening ceremony was held at the Kings Adventist Church and began with the posting of the Cayman flag, repeating the pledge of allegiance and singing of the national song.
Daniel Myles, Head Boy, gave the devotional thought. In his discourse, he used Psalm 24:1-2 to remind us that it was God who created us and these beautiful Cayman Islands. After which, students shared information about Cayman’s national symbols: Wild Banana Orchid, the Silver Thatch Palm and the Coat of Arms.
Students, teachers and parents moved to the school’s auditorium and were entertained by Mr Quincy Brown, a native of Cayman Brac, Cayman’s well-known comedian, actor, poet, singer and storyteller. The audience joined Mr Brown, singing alone with lyrics such as, ‘come gather round children, we telling stories this morning’, ‘I don’t want no chip-up potato’ and ‘Munsie boat in the sound’, as he shared Cayman’s culture and history in his unique style.
He did not forget to mention cooking on the caboose, smoke pans for mosquito repellant, doing homework under the kerosene oil lamp and building of catboats; just to name a few. He said, ‘most of the folk songs were about events that happened in the community’. Of course, one of the students’ favourites were the Ananzi stories.
Three guests, representing the National Museum, talked about Cayman’s Christian heritage, old-time dress, the quadrille dance, rope making and plaiting, using the Silver Thatch Palm, to make baskets, belts, hats, bags and many other useful items. The audience was surprised to learn how important rope making was and how it was used in exchange for food and building materials from Jamaica. Media and Design Specialist, Mr Brian Watler, showed various typical dress for men, women and children, that were worn back then, during the presentation by Special Events and Programmes Assistant, Ms Shenice McField. They also brought along old-time clothing for students to try on. Ms McField said: ‘Caymanians were very resourceful, and they used what they had’. She explained that: ‘A long time ago there were not many stores, so the people had to make their clothing and accessories’. Ms Rosemay Ebanks, one of Cayman’s remaining ten traditional artisans, demonstrated plait making and talked about how fast plaiting is becoming extinct. She hopes that children will put more interest in learning to plait to keep the heritage alive.
Other activities, to share Cayman’s culture and history were students’ enactment of Christopher Columbus, a cultural dress fashion show, a skit on Caymanian bush medicine, a cultural dance and displays of artefacts, national symbols and various types of bush medicine. We can’t leave out the group of students who sang, Cayman’s popular song, ‘Caymankind’ accompanied by the student band. In addition, there was a demonstration of boat making and writing slates. During lunch break students were seen playing old Caymanian games such as hopscotch and spinning tops.
The organiser of the day’s events, assistant teacher, Mrs Chamayrene Williams, a native of West Bay, responded: ‘The reason for planning this special day is to ensure that the culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands remain alive to be passed on to the next generation’.
In a brief interview with Mr Brown, he said: ‘I am quite impressed with the high quality of the day’s programme. In fact, the school has invited the right people to share the right information to help keep our culture and heritage alive’. He went on to say that: ‘Events such as these should happen more often than once per year, at the school, in order to keep the culture and heritage in the forefront. Considering that Cayman has 139 nationalities, it is easy for the culture to be lost if similar days are not celebrated regularly with the children of the Cayman Islands’.
When asked to comment on the day’s events, some students’ responses were: ‘I am learning a lot’. ‘It’s fun’! ‘It’s very informative! I didn’t even know what ‘wompas’ (shoes made from old tires) were’! A teacher’s response was: ‘It’s great’!
Cayman Academy, ‘Home Where Stars Are Made’, continues to shine!