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Reflections of the perceived role of Cultural Ambassadors

by caribdirect
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Darby dressed in a traditional Madrass Suit sponsored by CaribDirect.com

Collective contributions to culture on a daily basis are phenomenal!!!  To borrow the Jamaican motto which says, ‘Out of many, one people’, I take this opportunity to pen this article to reemphasize that fact in our cultural triumphs.

However, the question of who is perceived to play a cultural ambassador props up again.

Recently, I accepted an invitation to present a policy implementation review paper on culture within the EPA – a case study of CARIFORUM at the 3rd meeting of Cultural Ministers in Brussels.

Naturally, my first contact points were to my colleagues of the Global Diplomacy Foundation. Of the four colleagues, the three men’s first response was focused on the write up, however, the lone cultural activist Ms Lena Pamphile’s immediate response was ‘well, you will have to embody culture; culture is not a paper thing – dress in cultural clothing so that the rest of the world does not only hear culture but also feel, touch, see it in your delivery’.

Designer – Ms Sharleen Lagon

The idea was sweet but unsettling, as this felt like a bigger challenge. You see, where perception (intuition and sensing) should have been driving me – judgement took over. Further, the idea felt even more daunting to find a couturier (rèse) to make a Madras outfit in England and at short notice, to boot.

Then I thought, grassroots, and, Ms Sharleen Lagon a young Caribbean designer, known by a name I could not even pronounce ‘J’aeylu Designs’ came to mind. Surely, within a fortnight how possible would it be to have a suit made in the Caribbean and delivered in London.

Nonetheless, she quite happily joined my quest to showcase culture, willing to make special provisions to get the measurements of my big belly in the outfit.  The urgency to execute this venture successfully, led me to the CEO of CaribDirect.Com, Mr David F. Roberts. We arrived at a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement thereby securing sponsorship for the suit.

As promised, the suit was completed. However, there was a hitch – insufficient time to have it couriered to London. The only option left would be a willing traveller.

Virgin Atlantic saved the day

I enquired with staff on both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic seeking someone who would carry the suit to England. Hope finally arrived literally at the eleventh hour enroute to Brussels, a Virgin Atlantic employee via a culturally adept older lady – Ms Neola Sumayah of Indian descent.

Upon receipt of the item, I was amazed, overwhelmed and in awe at the high quality of the suit especially having noticed that the Jacket was reversible; I had the option of wearing it fully Madras or a black suit with subtle Madras edges.


I arrived at the Headquarters of the Secretariat cool, calm, and collected to deliver my address.  The feedback from the attending delegates was electrifying, plus, the constant photos taken of my jacket made me delighted to be the only culturally dressed male in the conference.

The focused theme of this article is appreciation, and that all the persons mentioned are cultural contributors whether or not they acknowledge the title. The words of ‘no man is an island’ came to mind.

The collection of small things adds up, knowingly or unknowingly to the bigger cultural perspective – Culture is the bedrock of our society.  Therefore, in assessing the perceived role, I extend my humblest gratitude to these ambassadors of culture.

As demonstrated throughout this piece these persons made the journey possible, they just need to own the title and not judge the title. We are all cultural ambassadors – as there is …. No Future Without Culture.

In closing, here is a small gift…..

Walk with me! By D.Etienne & L.Pamphile

Don’t walk in front, you never see me, I am merely following,

Don’t walk behind me, you only see my back, I feel threatened,

Don’t walk above my head, you won’t recognise me, you can crush me


Walk along my side,

Do walk with me, so you get to know me

Do walk with me, so you see my works

Do walk with me, so you get to know my history

So together,

We can all move culture forward!!!!



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