Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
The historical and cultural journey through the past was the focus of the 43rd Anniversary of the USVI-BVI Friendship Day celebrations.
The territorial ties of the two islands were highlighted in an educational cultural programme on the shared history and culture of the Virgin Islands hosted at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on Saturday September 17.
Premier and Minister of Finance of the British Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE led a delegation to the festivities that were held under the theme “Ties Across the Water that Bind Us.”
Premier Smith said that Friendship Day provides both Territories with a chance to renew old acquaintances, discuss old times, and to reflect on how they survived and flourished as a people, despite the many challenges they encountered in the past.
He added, “This day also gives us an opportunity to discuss challenges we will face in the future. This we must continue to do together, in the spirit of unity which has served us well over these many decades. Our ties of kinship and culture transcend our borders. That has always been the fundamental truth of our relationship, and this remains so today.”
Governor Mr. Kenneth E. Mapp expressed gratitude to all for coming to the friendship celebrations and said that he is committed to ensuring continued collaborations with the Government of the Virgin Islands on issues of mutual interest.
Governor Mapp also stated that efforts to ease travel between the Virgin Islands were a top priority following the Inter Virgin Islands Council meeting earlier this month.
He stated, “Our islands share a unique culture and a deep connection that families have shared between these islands for generations and it must be celebrated.”
The Governor added that for the first time since its inception in 1972, the 45th Friendship Day celebration will be held in St. Croix. As part of the cultural programme, renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner and the Virgin Islands March were sung by the Charlotte Amalie High School Hawks Concert Choir, while British Virgin Islands singers Kenrico Wheatley and Kaywanna Pope offered solos of ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands’ respectively.
Patrons were also treated to cultural performances by the AY-AY Cultural Dance company, who travelled from St. Croix to entertain the crowd with classic quadrille dancing.
One of the programme highlights included the presentation of the Tale of Four Wharves written by Glen Davis, Carmen Dennis and Denise Humphrey. The presentation explained the shared history and culture recognising the longstanding friendship, union, and neighbourly relations between both Territories.
The day’s cultural performance concluded with a Cultural Extravaganza performed by the Caribbean Ritual Dancers.
Vendors were on hand to provide samples of foods, snacks and crafts native to Virgin Islands culture. BVI-USVI Friendship Day has been celebrated since 1972 as an opportunity for BVI-USVI Governments and the entire Virgin Islands community to appreciate and reflect on the close ties which bind the neighbouring Territories and its people.
The observance was designed to strengthen and build upon that bond of friendship, highlighting the commonalities, the shared history and the shared culture of Virgin Islanders.
Over the years, the day has evolved into a more relaxed cultural celebration reflective of true friendship, as the two territories alternate hosting the annual celebration.