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Caribbean Cultural Extravaganza charms at 2019 Beijing Expo

(People's Daily Online)    17:23, September 30, 2019


Trinidad and Tobago students from the Beijing Dance Academy enthusiastically perform. (Photo via Embassy of Jamaica in Beijing)

As part of the 2019 Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition, the Caribbean Caucus of Embassies in Beijing recently held a cultural extravaganza entitled, “Culture in the Tropics” at the Beijing Horticultural Exposition site in Yanqing. The event sought to showcase aspects of the Caribbean, including its distinctive music, fashion, dance, and cuisine. The Embassies of Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada, Suriname, and Dominica worked assiduously over the past few months to ensure that participants had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the warm festivities indicative of the Caribbean and its people.

With an array of Caribbean flags in hand, the festivities kicked off with a colorful parade, one that showcased the beautifully intricate nature of carnival costumes from the region. Dressed in their national colors, Caribbean nationals marched and danced to the rhythms being played by ZJ Rush alongside their costumed counterparts as they all paraded from the Caribbean Pavilion to the Lawn Theatre.

The current Chair of the Caribbean Caucus of Embassies, His Excellency Francois Jackman, Ambassador of Barbados to the People’s Republic of China addressed the animated gathering at the Lawn Theatre, which saw the performance of bands from Barbados - the 4K Band, Grenada - Solid the Band, the Surinamese Okobua Band and the Beijing Based Reggae band - One Drop. In his brief welcoming remarks, Ambassador Jackman noted that the Expo was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Caribbean culture and to see the keen interest of the Chinese people for this type of activity, made it all worthwhile. His remarks were followed by Mr. Xie Yunliang, Senior Advisor from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The opening act for the concert at the Lawn Theatre was by Bahamian artiste Keson Tinker, who was also the emcee. Tinker, fluent in Mandarin and an accomplished singer, warmed the audience up with famous Chinese songs “I Love You China” and “Wishing You All The Best Year Round.” 

His Excellency Bayney Karran, Guyana’s Ambassador to the PRC, was on hand to welcome guests to the Caribbean Pavilion. “As we come to the final stages of this historic Beijing Expo and as China begins to celebrate the 70th year of the People’s Republic of China, Caribbean countries in Beijing are thrilled to host you today … I take the opportunity to express our appreciation to the Government of China and, in particular, to the Beijing Expo Organizing Committee for their cooperation and assistance in facilitating our participation in the Beijing Expo.”

After the parade, the Pavilion audience was dazzled by the avant-garde work of Jamaican fashion designer Ashley Martin whose work graced the stages of America’s, Britain’s and Ireland’s Next Top Model. She was dubbed a fashion icon for Jamaica and the Caribbean in Washington D.C. Kay Mclean and Quinton Pearson, both from Guyana, further brought the stage to life with beguiling evening gowns, provocative swimwear as well as casual everyday pieces. The Caribbean fashion show also included the national dress of several of the participating countries. 

Trinidad and Tobago dance students, studying at the Beijing Dance Academy, entertained the crowd with their graceful and talented moves. Representatives from two of Jamaica’s local dance groups namely, Shady Squad and Dance Expressions also showcased some of the region’s latest moves. ZJ Rush kept the crowd energized with the most up to date tunes from the Caribbean, while Bay-C performed some of his timeless classics and pieces from his debut album Holy Temple. Both well-known Jamaican cultural icons have been on the dancehall scene since the early 2000s. 

Trinidad and Tobago singer KC performed several Soca hits that had the crowd jumping with excitement. Participants were also delighted by the Barbadian 4k band, a talented group of young musicians who specialize in spreading the musical genre of Soca to the world. This band has performed in opening acts for renowned international performers including Third World and Chrisette Michelle. Guyanese artists Jackie Hanover and Gavin Mendoca were particular favorites as their individual musical styles were engagingly hypnotic. Audience members were later invited on stage to participate in a “dance-off” while others had the opportunity to engage in a few other activities to win local treats and prizes. 

It was evident that both Caribbean and Chinese nationals alike thoroughly enjoyed the proceedings. “I was delighted by the response of the Chinese public to the many different aspects of Caribbean culture that were on display at the Cultural Extravaganza. It is a practical demonstration of the opportunities for Caribbean cultural practitioners in China and the genuine interest of China in Caribbean culture,” remarked His Excellency Francois Jackman, Barbados’ Ambassador to the PRC. 

The festivities of the day certainly worked up an appetite and participants were treated to a variety of culinary delights from across the Caribbean region including jerk chicken, beef patties, seasoned rice, peanut soup and Johnny cakes accompanied by ginger beer, sorrel, coffee and a taste of different red and white rums.

Before the Cultural Extravaganza, the Caribbean Caucus of Embassies had arranged many activities leading up to the September event. Beijingers were treated to an assortment of films and documentaries that were exclusively produced and directed by Caribbean talent. Food tastings were particularly popular as was the debut performance by the Jamaica Gymnastics Team. 

The Caribbean Cultural Extravaganza was held in keeping with Beijing’s Horticultural Expo 2019, which witnessed the gathering and participation of over 110 countries and international organizations. Over the past few months, the Expo had a vibrant calendar of events including daily light and sound shows as well as national day celebrations from across the globe. Expo 2019 is the second international Horticultural Expo to be held in China following the 1999 Expo in Kunming. 


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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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