Category: Culture

The Fruit of V.I. Agriculture in Good Hands: Profiles of Local Leaders – Dr. Louis E. Petersen Jr.

The Fruit of V.I. Agriculture in Good Hands with Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr. and Commissioner Carlos Robles – Part One | Petersen’s story
By DaraMonifah Cooper

Dr. Petersen sitting with UVI President Hall and Dr. Marilym Brathwaite Hall during the STT-STJ AgFair Opening Ceremony

Dr. Petersen sitting with UVI President Hall and Dr. Marilym Brathwaite Hall during the STT-STJ AgFair Opening Ceremony


Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr.
is a born and raised U.S. Virgin Islands leader whose life-long passion for agriculture has led to an exemplary career which has helped him to blaze a trail of successes that promise to be continued in his latest role at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES).

As described by Dr. Petersen, the story that led him on the path to agriculture began in 1975 during the longest teachers strike in the history of the Virgin Islands. He was a student at the Charlotte Amalie High School and along with other students, didn’t agree with staying at home. Although there were no teachers in the classroom, what they did was to start an agricultural club at the school. They gradually got support from various sources, including from Cyril Emanuel King, the Governor at the time. King came to visit with them and expressed his love and encouragement for what they were doing. According to Dr. Petersen, when Governor King came, “the following day we got all the tools that we needed that we didn’t have.”

Dr. Petersen with Charlotte Amalie High School Future Farmers of America

Dr. Petersen with Charlotte Amalie High School Future Farmers of America

Reminiscing, Dr. Petersen shared that, “In the summer time, Governor King employed us through the youth commission, which was the ultimate encouragement. Petersen reports that when they were finished with school, they left and studied. In between his studies, Petersen came home to seek employment. For a semester, he worked for Extension Service. “That’s where my love, my familiarity with the role of the Extension Service office became apparent,” he explained. When he returned home from school, he continued to work at the Extension Service office.

In 1992, after first being a UVICES student worker and then Agent, Dr. Petersen was promoted to the position of UVICES District Supervisor. Three years later he became the U.S. V. I. Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture, then returned to UVICES as the District Supervisor, only to be promoted to U.S. V. I. Commissioner of Agriculture in 2007.

During the last eight years in his most reputable role as U.S. V. I. Commissioner of Agriculture, he said that he experienced “an extremely challenging but fulfilling eight years.” He reiterated, “There was no plan that was laid out for us when we started so we weren’t sure what to follow. Having gone through the full circle of thinking it through, sitting with staff, sitting with farmers devising a plan and then putting that plan in to action and seeing many parts of the plan be fulfilled,” Dr. Petersen explained how he lead the team that chalked up another great accomplishment for the Territory.

Expounding upon the same topic, Dr. Petersen said, “We are a territory that has been overlooked so many times by the National agency of agriculture and the USDA. Because of that we often times have not been considered or included in programs.” He added that two of those examples are the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which was made law in 2004, and the Farmers Market Promotion Program grant which was authorized in 1976.

Petersen Back at Work with CES speaks to NSF Grant Workshop Presenter Research Development Consultant Lucy Deckard

Petersen Back at Work with CES speaks to NSF Grant Workshop Presenter Research Development Consultant Lucy Deckard

He continued, “We took two of those eight years fighting a battle back and forth with correspondences, teleconferences and everything else before we were finally given the status of being eligible. That I feel was a great accomplishment because in my recollection we’ve never before challenged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include us in programs that we were not eligible for. Subsequently, funding from that program was used in many areas including the fruit orchard establishment project which is now territory-wide.”

On the Farmers Market Promotion Program grant, Dr. Petersen shared, “We fought five years out of the eight years for the second one and only in 2012 did we become eligible. It was a great accomplishment and milestone in our history. Because of those two victories the territory is now eligible for more funding for agricultural development.”

“The two primary local agencies in the territory that work on behalf of and in support of farmers are indeed the (V.I.) Department of Agriculture and the UVI land grant program, meaning the Extension Service and Experiment Station, so we have always worked together,” shared Dr. Petersen. “I cannot think of one initiative in which we didn’t collaborate.”

He went on to say, “At the (V.I.) Department of Agriculture, our mandate was very broad whether it was outreach and policy establishment however with the Extension Service program our mandate is informal education to the farming clientele.”

Dr. Petersen and Carlos Robles on "What's Going on @UVICES" with hosts (DaraMonifah Cooper - capturing photo) and Christina Chanes

Dr. Petersen and Carlos Robles on “What’s Going on @UVICES” with hosts (DaraMonifah Cooper – capturing photo) and Christina Chanes

Commissioner Designee Carlos Robles, shared the same sentiment in the way the two agencies work hand-in-glove together. He expressed how long he has been learning from Dr. Petersen’s example from as far back as their school days attending Charlotte Amalie High when he first learned about the agriculture club that Petersen had played a major role in starting. In terms of how he sees the offices working together he made it clear that UVICES always plays a mandatory role in the success of the (V.I.) Department of Agriculture’s goals. “Informing farmers on how to work more efficiently and effectively is where we will be leaning on UVICES,” he added.

When asked how he feels about returning to UVICES, Dr. Petersen proudly stated, “I find myself continuing in many respect what we began and working for the same goal and the same clientele, but from another perspective.”

To be continued…
Keep following this blog, facebook, twitter and instagram for stories on Ag Commissioner Carlos Robles and We Grow Food, Inc. President Elridge “Sparks” Thomas

For more information email dcooper@uvi.edu.

Happy National Agriculture Day Virgin Islands!

My website focuses on various parts of Virgin Islands culture and my efforts to encourage more pride in our people, our history and our way of life. Through interviews with local culture bearers, artists, educators and others who help to preserve our culture I hope to assist with increasing our Virgin Islands pride on a variety of levels.

In the middle of doing research for providing content by request to a school teacher on local Virgin Islanders, this week I’m focused on learning and sharing more about our agriculture leaders. I’m choosing these experts because of their ongoing leadership in the area of local agriculture. I think they each have valuable insight and also possibly some solutions from their experiences both on the government side of things as well as first hand as farmers.

My experts this week are the V.I. Commissioner of Agriculture who works alongside the Assistant Director of Agriculture for UVICES as well as one of the most well respected farmers and beekeepers here (who also is the President of the most successful farming organization on St. Thomas). Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared dialogue with each of them on a variety of topics.

The three experts that I’m considering interviewing are all noted locally as individuals who are highly respected and experienced in the area of agriculture in the Virgin Islands. Having just switched places after our last election, the Commissioner and District Supervisor have no real online source for finding out information about them in their positions. I’ve searched and either their websites have been deactivated or aren’t yet updated. The most that exists for each in terms on an online presence is their facebook pages which I’ve provided links to below.

I hope to provide a permanent location online for their profiles, giving them their flowers while they are still here with us in their prime. I will also be uploading to a SoundCloud.com account the 1-hour long audio interview I conducted on National Agriculture Day 2015. Until then, what follows is the basic information that I obtained from speaking with each of them and researching what little else there is thus far to find of them online.

1. Carlos Robles, VI Commissioner of Agriculture (present) | OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Credentials: 

Experience:

  • UVICES District Supervisor
  • UVICES Extension Specialist – Horticulture
  • UVICES Extension Agent – Horticulture
  • UVICES Student Worker

Related News Articles: Article 1 | Article 2

In our local online media news source, Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp, “laid out his strategy for revamping the Department of Agriculture, which he has picked Carlos Robles to lead.” In that article (Article 2 hyper-linked above) Governor Mapp said, “…Robles, a Corporate Extension Service professor at the University of the Virgin Islands and local agriculture expert, is the man to make that happen.”

2. Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., UVI Cooperative Extension Service Assistant Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources/District Supervisor (present) OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Credentials: 

Experience:

  • VI Commissioner of Agriculture (2007-2014)
  • UVICES District Supervisor (1999-2007)
  • VI Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture (1995-1999)
  • UVICES District Supervisor (1992-1995)
  • UVICES Agent (1992-1995)
  • UVICES Student Worker

Related News Articles: Article 1 | Article 2Article 3

3. Elridge “Sparks” Thomas, President of We Grow Food, Inc., Local farmers organization OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Credentials: Unknown

  • Successful business owner
  • Farmer of the Year (multiple years)
  • Beekeeper
  • UVICES Agriculture Education Client (multiple years)

Experience:

  • President, We Grow Food, Inc.
  • Employee of the VI Department of Agriculture
  • Numerous community awards and recognition related to the field of Agriculture

    Related News Articles: Article 1 | Article 2

UVI’s Afternoon on the Green 2015: Annual Fun-filled Friend-raiser a Success

Commonly duped as their #1 ‘friend-raiser,’ the proceeds from today’s University of the Virgin Islands Afternoon on the Green (AOTG) successfully raised thousands of dollars for student scholarships. Extremely successful in so many ways, the event brings out hundreds of people who, “Come for the food,” and “Stay for the fun,” as the event’s theme suggests.

Hundreds of people flocked to the University’s Herman E. Moore golf course where several tents were filled with people serving food, drinks, taking raffles, distributing food and drink tickets or sharing information about what their area provides at the University. Between the large numbers enjoying the food and drinks, live music, entertainment, youth activities and academic tent, the common phrase for the afternoon was that this year’s event was ‘the best ever.’

Leslyn Tonge, of the University’s Provost office worked on the grounds from the day before the event. “I think that the event was really a successful one. It seemed like there were a lot of people still coming in when I left which was before the end,” she said.

As a member of the committee, her primary responsibility is organizing the academic tent because of her job at the office of the Provost, which always handles managing the academic tent. “I like the fact that the students came out and showcased what their different organizations and clubs are about. It (AOTG) is primarily for students, so putting myself in the place of a potential donor, I’d like to see what the students can do.”

“It was also a tool for recruitment so every aspect that was on display was part of the grander scheme of recruiting with the ability to see the different programs that we offer,” she added. “We had the psychology club, Greek organizations, student government, multi-cultural East Indian association and other student associations.”

Ms. Tonge, with the assistance of youth from the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative, was able to prepare the area for the event. The students took a break from their weekly radio show, on the campus radio station, walked across campus and helped set up the tables and chairs under the academic tent. “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” shared Majestik, one of the youth co-hosts, as they all nodded with excitement, reminiscing all of the previous AOTG activities they participated in from the years before.

Just as in the previous years, other numerous children had continuous fun in the bounce house, rolling down the hill in huge transparent soccer balls, playing Frisbee, getting their faces painted and more.  Simultaneously, not far from the children, their parents were able to enjoy the open social environment sitting on the bleachers, standing and talking or dancing to the live bands perform on the stage under the entertainment tent.

Even though there were so many entries, all of the donated food was purchased hours before the event ended, so the grill line stretched tens of people long.

“We don’t mind waiting, because the music is good, our children are safe in the youth activity area and we’re enjoying ourselves just talking and catching up with friends.”

Among the winning entries, is WUVI student radio station’s faculty advisor Dr. Alex Randall whose Shepherd’s Pie won one of the prizes for getting the most votes. This year’s blue ribbon will be added to the others at the WUVI studio as this isn’t the first time the station was awarded for obtaining the most votes. Each year, as soon as the dish is registered, the entry number to text in votes is blasted out to the community using the radio airwaves as they air the event live. This is accompanied by a word to mouth campaign throughout the afternoon as well as via instagram, facebook and other WUVIAM1090 social media accounts.

The UVI Mocojumbies lead the parade with the Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School Drumline Marching Band and a Vintage Voltswagen and Mustangs following behind. On the entertainment stage, the E. Benjamin Oliver Steel Owls Steelpan Orchestra opened up the fair followed by the Flip Switch band, Bertha C. Bochulte Middle School’s Flambo Combo band with their dancers and the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers.  Cool Sessions Brass ended the event long after closing hours as the crowd continued to dance to their music.

photo 1

Dr. Alex Randall submitting WUVI’s winning dish

photo 2

UVI Small Business Development Center’s Mary Jo Williams leading in the Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School Drumline

The lead organizer for Afternoon on the Green, Liza J. Margolis shared that there is always a need for more help with organizing the event. As the Senior Coordinator of Donor Relations and Special Events, she is mainly responsible for managing the organization of the event every year. For more information she can be contacted at 340-693-1053 or email lmargol@uvi.edu.

UVI’s VILitFest Turns a Page on Literacy Closing Women’s History Month

vilitfest-sq-logoTHOMAS, UNITED VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Women’s History Month, the first Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair (VILitFest) highlighting literacy, local authors, and world literature at schools and the Golden Grove Correctional Facility, will take place from March 26 to 29. Local and regional award-winning authors, editors and publishers to be featured, include Virgin Islander Tiphanie Yanique, Jamaica Kincaid and Malaika Adero.

“Embracing Literacy for Life,” this year’s theme will be experienced all around the isle of St. Croix before, during and after the fair, especially on Thursday, March 26, in The Great Hall on the Albert A. Sheen campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. The Festival’s opening will provide an opportunity for festival-goers to meet with organizers, sponsors, scholars and the vast list of authors.

Featured writers will visit the local prison and schools to discuss their work and the importance of literacy. School children are also invited to attend various events in order to participate in workshops and interact directly with the authors, according to Stephanie Nugent-Hanlon, VILitFest webmaster, journalist and writer by trade and education.

The Caribbean Dance Company will perform a dance interpretation of Marvin Williams’ “Heirs,” the UVI Steel Band Ensemble will entertain, and “The Skin,” a film written and produced by Howard Allen, will have its debut.

St. Thomas-born fiction writer and winner of the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize for her novel “Land of Love and Drowning,” Tiphanie Yanique, will share about her award-winning book. Described as “a love letter to the Virgin Islands, both the land and spirit of the place,” in the Los Angeles Review of Books it chronicles the saga of a St. Thomas family through three generations from 1916 to 1970.

Currently a professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, editor, university lecturer, communications consultant and small business owner, Jamaican-born Gillian Royes, is also one of the featured presenters.

“A veteran of the book publishing industry for 30 plus years,” said Malaika Adero, introducing herself as an independent publishing consultant, editor and writer who will also be featured and participating in one of the panels. In a phone interview, she expressed her perspective of the importance of storytelling to all forms of presentation in various genres. According to Adero, her cultural events magazine, HomeSliceMagazine.com is, “a space for me to share with you the new and provocative ideas, art and culture I hear about — sometimes in advance—from my role as an artist, cultural worker and in the book publishing industry.”

Heralded as the ‘most important West Indian woman writing today,’ Jamaica Kincaid, will also make a featured presentation.

On the Saturday evening, a ‘Book Bacchanal’ featuring cultural performances, book signings and a Poetry Slam will be held. Author and biographer of legendary Crucian writer and activist Hubert Harrison, Jeffrey Perry will deliver the keynote address as well as make a presentation.

On Sunday, March 29, led by National Park Superintendent Joel Tutein, participants will be treated to a literary island tour beginning in the Christiansted Historic District and ending at the Frederiksted Fort.

The event is being hosted by the University of the Virgin Islands College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Sponsors include the VI Department of Tourism, Innovative Companies and The Caribbean Writer. For more information, visit the official website or its Spanish version.

CLICK HERE to view Map of Event Locations

Insight on the Grassroots Intellectual Experience: The Triumphs and Struggles – Part One

Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina | Mother, Educator, Culture Preservationist, Spiritual Leader +

Sometimes when you’ve gone a distance in one direction, you realize that bringing along what you learned in the other direction will take you further and that actually, they both not only lead to the same place, but are a necessary balance of each other.

Multi-disciplinary educator, cultural performing artist, naturopathic therapist, ordained minister, community developer, scholar and visionary, Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina’s story would fill bookshelves, but she’s probably burned the books. Instead she just writes them with each step and publishes new volumes with every new day. Her grassroots related experiences have taught her things that experiential learning explain best. A type of ‘common’ sense usually expected from the street, while her background in the halls of academia have her at an exceptional advantage above others who focus only on one specific area of expertise.

“Essentially because of the work that I do, sometimes the integration and the synergy is exceptional, and then other times it seems like there’s resistance…” Dr. Kahina

Per Ankh, Inc. is a charitable and spiritually centered non-government organization (NGO) and non-profit organization (NPO) “livicated to providing educational, cultural, environmental, social, holistic health & wellness, artistic, spiritual & other naturalistic resources and supports that positively contribute to the comprehensive improvement & sustainable development of our local, national and global communities.”

The University of the Virgin Islands V. I. and Caribbean Culture Center (VICCC) is designated to produce, develop and institute state-of-the-art research, publications, mixed media networks and programs, regional and international conferences, collaborative initiatives, academic and community partnerships, interdisciplinary cultural exchanges, socioeconomic development and heritage tourism events, educational resources and more.

As the primary Director of both entities as well as the leader of a number of others, Dr. Chen, as she’s often compassionately called has the opportunity to merge so much of her prior grassroots life experience prior to working at the University of the Virgin Islands in her current capacity as Director of the VICCC as well as the Center for the Study of Spirituality and Professionalism (CSAP).

When asked about how she balances the two, Dr. Kahina responds thoughtfully. “There’s a synergy that exists between culture, spirituality, the arts and technology that my work at the UVI gives me an opportunity to lend over to CSAP and the VICCC into what I do which Per Ankh and Smai Tawi, CPAN, PADU and a host of other global activities…” Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina

“In all things Pan African, conduct oneself with character, courtesy and common sense.”

Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) Practicing Ma’at in Organizing the African Diaspora By David L. Horne, Ph.D.

Q: What would you suggest for approaching and responding to schools that ask for Black History presentations when you know they’re only asking you to come in because it’s Black History Month:

A: Dr. Kahina simply suggested a wealth of online sites that have related information made available in an ongoing everyday way. This way, the resources could be shared with students in a way that is easy to access and always available. She explained that this is important so that they can see that Black History is all the time and it is World history, not just information that is useful to one set of people.

We also discussed that one can’t really speak about Virgin Islands history without knowing and showing that it is Caribbean history.

Q: What do you think the students can contribute as well as learn at the same time… they can’t share what they don’t know so they have to be taught then encouraged to share with others.

A: They can go to various resources locally including people and places like our campus and public libraries, the Digital Library of the Caribbean as well as various offices like our Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and V. I. Humanities Council.

Learn more about experiences with the community that make it challenging to want to keep giving as well as the small triumphs that make all the sacrifices worth it in Part Two of Insight on the Grassroots Intellectual Experience: The Triumphs and Struggles with Dr. Chenzira Kahina and others.

#VIAgriFest2015 | The Largest and Best Agriculture, Culture & Food Festival of the Caribbean

If you’ve never been to an Agriculture and Food Fair, hailed as the largest in the Caribbean, consider attending the 44th annual Virgin Islands AgriFest held on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands February 14 – 16, 2015. “AgriFest gives you a snapshot of not only agriculture, but the possibilities that we can do with our Agriculture industry by adding value to our products. It also celebrates our culture and things that you normally don’t see throughout the year, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to see and purchase,” Clarice Clarke, UVICES Public Information Specialist and VI AgriFest Coordinator of Promotions interviewed on What’s Going on @UVICES (Weekly Radio Show).

Sponsored by the V.I Department of Agriculture, University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Cooperative Extension Services (UVICES) and the V.I. Department of Tourism, the theme of Agrifest 2015 is “Agriculture: The Heart of it All.” In a St. Croix Source story, UVI President Dr. David Hall describes the AgriFest as, “a family-oriented, community engagement activity where we can renew and widen our circle of friendship, begin cultivating networks, and celebrate the cultural diversity represented.”

Gates always open at 9:00 am and close at 6:00pm with an opening ceremony that starts at 10am on the Saturday morning. People from near and far attend the fair to take advantage of it’s vast array of agriculture education, fresh local food, local produce, live music and other entertainment, children and family activities, shopping opportunities with so many vendors being available in one place and it’s consistently low cost. The entry fees remain affordable at only $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for children.

VIAgriFest2014 poster

VIAgriFest2014 poster

Centrally located on the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex at Estate Lower Love, across from the Albert A. Sheen St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, the fair always takes place during the 3-day President’s Day weekend. Three stages in the various areas of the fair provide simultaneous ongoing entertainment throughout the day with one of this year’s highlights being a Calypso show focused on Lord Kitchener and his music. Youth groups including the Superior Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, St. Croix Educational Complex Marching Band and others. St. Croix Heritage Dancers and other adult performers also share Virgin Islands culture with the viewing audiences.

“We will reach a day when everything we eat is produced here in the Virgin Islands.” ~UVI President Dr. David Hall, from the VI Source Feb 15 story.

About 48 farmers from St. Croix and other islands occupy about 70 booths, 88 vendors sell t-shirts, jewelry and other items. In addition, fair goers can visit the livestock pavilion, food pavilion and farmers market to check out locally raised animals, grown and prepared food. “We sell only the local food, no alcoholic beverages or sodas whatsoever,” Clarke noted proudly on a radio interview.

UVI components will be participating in the exhibits by displaying their products and the services offered to the community according to a press release on the UVICES website. A centerpiece of the fair, the UVI Tent has numerous programs showcasing their services, lead by UVICES, which focuses on the fair theme and showcases plants and fruits that promote healthy heart eating. The new UVICES publication, “Tropical Fruits of the Virgin Islands and their Nutritional Values,” also highlighted and on sale, which is available along with their other educational publications year-round at UVI bookstores on both campuses.

“Travelers to the fair include people from the other Caribbean islands visiting us who always look forward to coming and participation,” Clarke shared.

Native Son is the official AgriFest ferry and Seaborne Airlines helps get people there from neighboring islands. Major sponsors include Innovative, V.I. Department of Tourism, V.I. Lottery, V.I. Port Authority, DaVybe 107.9 FM, Water and Power Authority, V.I. Waste Management Authority, Choice Communications as well as the men and women of the VIDOA and UVICES for their annual management and organization of the AgriFest.

Local media coverage of the fair is always expected and for more information about the fair from it’s committee members, the AgriFest 2015 Bulletin publication is sold all three days at the fair and made available afterwards as a pdf on the ces.uvi.edu website or connect with their social media pages @uvices. The official AgriFest website is www.viagrifest.org.

MEDIA COVERAGE:

VIAgriFest2015 made front page news on the St. Croix Avis Sun-Mon, Feb. 15-16 newspaper

VIAgriFest2015 on front page of the St. Croix Avis Sun-Mon, Feb. 15-16 newspaper

Virgin Islands Daily News coverage of VIAgriFest2015 from cover page

Virgin Islands Daily News Coverage of the VIAgriFest2015 (from page four)

“Black” Heritage takes On a New Face with Fresh Minds at UVI

History rewrites itself this Black History Month as a new set of students learn the ropes while helping to promote cultural awareness at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). As a standing committee of the University’s Student Government Association (SGA), “raising awareness and promoting African Heritage on campus and abroad” is what they are charged to do according to the school policy.

The University of the Virgin Islands “Black” Heritage Committee is a student-based organization charged with the responsibility of raising awareness and promoting African Heritage on campus and abroad. According to Article VIII Section 11 letter F of the UVI SGA Constitution, the “Black” Heritage Committee shall be responsible for planning and implementing programs of “Black” cultural awareness.

From on the UVI website, in 1986, the United States Congress named UVI one of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); therefore, it holds the distinction of being the only HBCU outside of the continental United States. HBCUs are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African American community as well as the entire nation.

The BHC serves as an integral part of the University’s effort to share with it’s students the rich culture of the Virgin Islands, Caribbean as well as African American and African history. A past Professor of the University and co-chair of the BHC, Gene Emanuel lead hundreds of students on historical and environmental nature tours while sharing stories of local historians who helped to influence global world leaders such as Edward Wilmot Blyden, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Ben and others.

The Virgin Islands has a number of people and things that makes it unique even today, but historically, many reasons exist that have paved the way for a ‘magical and healing experience’ to many that travel here, even if only for a day. For history lovers, here are a few facts:

  1. the first jurisdiction under the U.S. flag to be emancipated by slavery
  2. the first successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere on St. John in 1733
  3. the only state under the U.S. flag with the distinction of having over three quarters of the population of African ascendants

These and more are lessons passed down from past and some current UVI faculty, including Professor Emanuel who joined the UVI faculty in 1981, when the University was still the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI). Searching online, one can find statements by the then Governor of the Virgin Islands as well as the University President hailing the work and principles that Emanuel stood for. “Throughout his career, Professor Emanuel stressed that learning involves more than acquiescing to the status quo – that the consciousness of students must actually be raised. An avid Pan-Africanist, Professor Emanuel’s passion for Afro-Caribbean history and culture was always evident.”

If they don’t know how great we were, then they can never be expected to realize how much greater they can be. Going back through the timeline of events with the BHC, there is much to learn and even more to teach. The students will continue to change, but the history will always remain the same.

To be continued…

The UVI SGA "Black" Heritage Committee, Sankofa Saturdays & the Pan African Support Group presents #Blackhistory #MOVIEnights 6-9pm #FRIDAYS at the University of the Virgin Islands #CHASEauditorium

The UVI SGA “Black” Heritage Committee, Sankofa Saturdays & the Pan African Support Group presents #Blackhistory #MOVIEnights 6-9pm #FRIDAYS at the University of the Virgin Islands #CHASEauditorium

Infographic of BHC Timeline

The UVI SGA “Black” Heritage Committee, Sankofa Saturdays & the Pan African Support Group presents #Blackhistory #MOVIEnights 6-9pm #FRIDAYS at the University of the Virgin Islands #CHASEauditorium

#VIBordeauxFair2015 Rockin the United Virgin Islands with Vegan Soul Food, Music and More

Connect with We Grow Food, Inc. online: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | 2015 Fair

Selah Ranking on stage at the #vibordeauxfair2015

Selah Ranking on stage at the #vibordeauxfair2015

“We need to grow more seller than buyer… cost of living get higher,” Selah Ranking singing on stage at the #VIBordeauxFair2015 #SUPPORTviFARMERS

Heads bopping, feet shuffling all around the fair pavilion and the dance floor flooded with happy feet, young to old, as the Lion SoulJahs band soothed souls starting the live reggae concert during the second and last day of the 18th annual Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Agriculture and Cultural Vegan Food Fair on Sunday, January 18, 2015. The second day of a two-day celebration, the Virgin Islands community was blessed for another year by the Bordeaux farmers in celebration of agriculture with the theme, “Know your farmer, Know your food.”

The fair ran from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. all weekend with ongoing fresh produce, cultural craft and vegan food, farmers market, educational presentations, demonstrations, DJ music, poetry and various other forms of entertainment.

We Grow Food, Inc. and the Bordeaux farmers work tirelessly all year long, with regular markets on the second and last last Sundays, but the annual fair is the time to really celebrate the beauty in their natural Rastafari and farming community. This is when they’re busiest, doing more than just feeding our stomachs, but truly feeding our souls holistically showing the community what their community does on an everyday basis.

http://instagram.com/p/yARWxtnAre/

Farmer of the Year, Derick “Alpha” Hodge was awarded for his work over the past year as a Bordeaux farmer as well as at the Department of Agriculture where he is a heavy equipment operator. The V.I. Department of Tourism also received a special recognition award for their repeated support of the annual fair.

Some of the educational presentations throughout the day were shared by: Small Business Development Center, University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (Tropical Fruits of the VI Book), Heru Ofori Atta (Hemp), Herbalist Ras Bobby Olivaccee (Health, Wellness and Rastafarianism), VI Energy Office, Camp Umoja Sister Djabana (Anna Wallace-Francis) and Sister Benita (We Grow Food, Inc.) and more.

http://instagram.com/p/yAQxFwHAqW/

Farm tours ran throughout the day exposing the community to drip irrigation, terrace making and bee keeping. Some of the farms included tours with Eldridge “Sparks” Thomas, We Grow Food, Inc. President as well as the Greed Ridge Guavaberry family farm.

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Artistic performances included a spiritual dance by Princess Selam, steelpan music by the Rising Stars Pan-Round-de-Neck group, the Bertha C. Bochulte Flambo Combo band and more. During ‘Koniyah’s Poetry Corner’ poets from The Rock Collective and others throughout the community performed a number of pieces on a range of topics including culture, history, politics, community, thankfulness and more.

The family activity center there were ongoing craft stations featuring clay, planting, face painting, coloring, unity art projects and much more organized by Empress Iria who travels to St. Thomas from St. Croix to manage the youth with the assistance of community volunteers. Some of the activities included pictograph painting, “turn your trash into treasures” picture frames and jewelry making as well as fabric painting with plant based materials and basket weaving.

On Sunday, the activities continued with recycling natural and man-made materials to create art, jewelry making with our local seeds and coco palm painting with Sista Djabana of Camp Umoja and the Environmental Rangers.

Performers during the live reggae concerts included: Lion SoulJahs Band, Selah Ranking, Ras Martin & Itege, Jah Sekemnah, Kaida, Inner Vision, Dj Dilli Fingas, Unity Band, Empress, Nuby Dan…

Connect with We Grow Food, Inc. online: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | 2015 Fair

~DaraMonifah #SUPPORTviFARMERS

VI Kwanzaa Season’s Community Organizational, Management and Communications Efforts

KWANZAA365’s HabariGaniVI January 2015 Newsletter | Letter from the Editor

KWANZAA Banner at Fort Christian 2012Kwanzaa in the United Virgin Islands is celebrated like no where else and was another productive year, uniting, organizing and building for 2015.

Locally-created organizations, KWANZAA365 and Sankofa Saturdays used their multi-media skills to continue assisting with educating, promoting, organizing and documenting the various activities.

First, the VI Kwanzaa Schedule, focused on providing an accessible list of Kwanzaa gatherings, activities and/or education was compiled and shared with local, national and international media sources and organizations. As a result, more people were able to learn, share and attend Kwanzaa events within the Virgin Islands.

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KWANZAA365 also created and shared audio sound bites on Kwanzaa principles and celebrations with various radio stations which reached even more people who were able to learn about Kwanzaa, the various organizations that come together for annual activities as well as be informed about where the local events would take place.

An Ujamaa & Ujima (Cooperative Economics and Collective Work & Responsibility) meeting was held at the Natural Livity Kulcha Shop Lounge with grassroots organizations and business owner, hosted by KWANZAA365 and Sankofa Saturdays. Strategic planning was done collaboratively and an action plan put into place that will assist local grassroots organizations and businesses.

The Sankofa Saturdays youth documented the various events using photo, audio and videography and assisted with putting together a report of the Kwanzaa Season, which was then shared on heir weekly youth radio program on WUVI AM 1090 so that those who were unable to attend, were able to experience some of the events via photo, video and audio documentation.

IMG_8961Publicly speaking at all of the Kwanzaa events, sharing Kwanzaa education, contact information and inviting volunteers to assist with the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative, the organizations are proud to end another official Kwanzaa season having educated, informed and obtained contact information list of volunteers for Sankofa Saturdays.

Some of the intended next steps or products include an annual calendar of cultural Sankofa Saturdays events in the VI, a directory of supportive grassroots individuals, organizations and businesses, a Saturday school as well as the organization of a collaborative grassroots media and communications network.

KWANZAA365For more information or to view pictures, videos and listen to audio recordings, visit www.KWANZAA365.vi and www.SankofaSaturdays.com and their corresponding social media accounts:
KWANZAA365
Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

Sankofa Saturdays
Facebook
 | Instagram | Twitter |Youtube | SoundCloud

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Royalty Recognized at Home: Crucian Community Selects New Miss St. Croix Carnival Ambassadorial Queen

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“Born, bred and fungi-fed,” from designing and wearing her own dresses to writing and singing her own song, the new Miss St. Croix  Carnival Ambassadorial Queen, AnuMaat Davis-Kahina re-introduced herself to her community and was selected to represent them as their new Miss St. Croix on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at the Island Center for the Performing Arts on St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

With the theme of, “creating cultural memories through an international dream,” contestants showcased their intellect and beauty as they shared their various talents ranging from singing/spoken word, steel pan playing an Asian sword fighting as well as African drumming and dancing.

All of the platforms were presented with passion and purpose ranging from autism awareness to embracing healthy living.  AnuMaat’s platform was actually a sample of the non-profit which she created some years ago, LIVEUP.

LIVEUP, an acronym for “Living Inspired as Virtuous Edified and United Princesses (and Princes),” is the youth health education, inspiration & life skills component of NUWOMANRising that is the inspirational creation of Princess Anumaat Davis Kahina, Peer Facilitator and Counselor of Per Ankh Khamniversity Institute.

As mentioned in her introduction speech, through LIVEUP, AnuMaat has already far surpassed needed community service hours by the thousands. Then came the swimwear, platform speech, cultural wear, international costume performance, evening wear, question and answer.

For AnuMaat, answering the question was a great blessing for her as it spoke to topics that are current in the community today. She didn’t have to think long in order to respond as this work she does at various schools and with a number of organizations helped her to be impromptu with giving the presentation that blew the competition wide open for her.

More to come…

Sometimes all you have to do is be yourself… eventually, everyone else will catch on

Self-Determination Prevails: A New Balance Reigns Over St. Croix

Poised with an innate passion for serving her family and her people, newly crowned Queen AnuMaat Davis-Kahina prepares to share her life journey with the world through yet another platform. Affectionately known as Maat to family and friends, Maat is already a public speaker, talented songstress, dancer, clothing designer, educator and peer leader. Now she can add the title of Ambassadorial Carnival Queen to her list of accomplishments.

As we continue to pour libation on this year’s Kwanzaa season, it fuels me to see a community overwhelmed with a culture I know to be home, even if it is transplanted into the Caribbean, which in some cases has embellished our history even more. Whether the Virgin Islands knows it or not, we’ve been graced with the presence of re-born royalty, not just a new Carnival Queen. The leadership, balance, truth and order that Maat brings will be impossible to ignore as she proudly lives out her purpose, spreading the livity of Kemet (Egypt) and the Caribbean in all she does.