THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDSBy Rehina Bobryk, Maria Cordero, Diana Covalscaia., Olga Deric, Megan Dooley, and Kimberly D.urant
THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS CULTURE IS PRESENTED BY THE FOLLOWING: History by Megan Dooley Geography and Politics by Rehina Bobryk Religion and Rituals by Olga Deric Female Gender Role and Informal Use of Clothing by Maria Cordero Male Gender role and Non-Verbal use of clothing by Diana Covalscaia Music and Art by Kimberly Durant
INTRODUCTION Join us as we learn the geography, history and foundationof the great British Virgin Islands (BVI). This presentation willexplore the politics, history, spirituality and rituals of BVI andenhance one‟s knowledge of the islands culture, music, genderroles, art and numerous celebrations honoringgrowth, respect, humanity and prosperity. In honor of ourunique differences, we present the British Virgin Islands.
HISTORY OF THE BVI The Arawak Indians from South America inhabited the islands until about the 15th century. Somesources state that they had occupied the islands since 100 B.C. They were displaced by the moreaggressive Caribs (for whom the Caribbean Sea is named). Christopher Columbus explored the Virgin Islands in 1493. Columbus named the islands Santa Ursulay las Once Mil Vírgenes (Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins), shortened to Las Vírgenes. At that time, theCarib people lived there. By 1596, most of the Carib had been killed or fled Both the Dutch and the British developed an interest in the Virgin Islands during the 17th century.They were settled by the Dutch in 1648 and then annexed by the English in 1672. The islands were partof the British colony of the Leeward Islands from 1872-1960; they were granted autonomy in 1967. The Dutch, led by Joost van Dyk, created settlements in the early 1600s. He formed the Dutch WestIndia Company, which farmed and traded tobacco and cotton. In 1625, 1640, 1646, and 1647, theSpanish launched significant assaults on Tortola. They killed all of the Dutch and destroyed thesettlements as well as Road Town. Over the centuries, government structure was very weak. Legislatures were established and crumbled.An agent who was selling a distressed cargo of slaves from a shipwreck in Tortola in 1803 wrote that"Tortola is well nigh the most miserable, worst-inhabited spot in all the British possessions . . . thisunhealthy part of the globe appears overstocked with each description of people except honest ones."
HISTORY OF THE BVI The British established a profitable sugar business on their large plantations, whichprimarily used slave labour. When slavery was abolished in 1838, the economy declined to theextent that many Europeans returned home. There were many rebellions and disturbances during the 1800s. Probably the mostsignificant of these was the insurrection of 1853, which some call the “single most definingevent in the islands‟ history.” On August 1, a large number of rural labourers (mostly formerslaves) descended on Road Town to protest high taxes. Authorities reacted poorly andviolence ensued. Nearly half of Road Town was burned, and plantation houses and cropswere destroyed. Many residents fled, and soldiers from other islands were brought in toensure peace. Because of its economic and social problems, the Legislative Council was dissolved in1901. During the following years, there was virtually no change in conditions on the islands.Then in 1947, the people began to rise up and ask for their own government structure.
HISTORY OF THE BVI Economic and general living conditions on the island continued to be very poor into the 20th century.Assistance from Great Britain was negligible through the time of the World Wars due to its ownchallenges at home. In 1917, St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix were sold to the United States, thereby creating the U.S.Virgin Islands. During the 1960s, the British Virgin Islands were given greater autonomy within the BritishCommonwealth. The islands have their own constitution and a local legislative council which handlesisland affairs. The governor, who is selected by the Queen, deals in external affairs and island security. The socio-economic status of the islands remained much the same until the 1960s. At thattime, Laurence Rockefeller and Charlie Cary launched the tourism industry. The majority of the population is of African descent. English is the primary language, with someCreole and Spanish spoken as well. The islands‟ economy is closely tied to the larger and more populousU.S. Virgin Islands to the west; the U.S. dollar is the legal currency.
GEOGRAPHY OF BRITISH V I RG I N I S L A N D S The British Virgin Islands are located in theVirgin Islands archipelago between the AtlanticOcean and the Caribbean Sea. They comprisearound sixty tropical Caribbean islands, rangingin size from the largest, Tortola 20 km (12 mi)long and 5 km (3 mi) wide, to tiny uninhabitedislets. Most of the islands are volcanic in originand have a hilly, rugged terrain. The total areaof the BVI is 59 square miles.
THE CAPITAL OF THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS ISROA D T OW N, AND IT IS S I T UA T E D ON THES O U T H E A S T C OA S T O F T O RT O L A A N D I S A P O RT O FE N T R Y.Of the approximately 22,000 population that live in the British Virgin Islands, 18,000 are predicted to live on Tortola exclusively.
Of the approximately 22,000 population that live in the British Virgin Islands, 18,000 are predicted to live on Tortola exclusively. POLITICS OF BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS Queen Elizabeth II is considered the monarch and head of state. Due to her being unable to reside in the British Virgin Islands, a Governor General is appointed to act on her behalf. The Governor General is then advised by a Premier and his or her cabinet. This collective group from the Queen down to the Premier make up the Executive branch, the highest form of power in the country.
FACTS OF VIRGIN ISLAND RELIGION Christianity is the prevailing BVI religion Religion in the Virgin Islands has a long history as no one could argue with any conviction, of its contribution to our social, cultural, educational and economic development. There is no attempt at separating church and state in the British Virgin Islands. Prayers open House of Assembly meetings; school days begin with prayer; and references to God are common in political discourse. As in many parts of the Caribbean, some islanders still practice ancient Africanbeliefs, such as animism, the worship of ancestors, spirits, and magic. Obeah, or magic is practiced to encourage the spirits and ancestors to do good deeds. These supernatural practices are often combined with mainstream religion, for a mixedbelief in both spirits of African tradition and in the God of contemporary Westernizedreligions.
RITUALS IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS People in British Virgin Islands are very religious Churches are the source of much social welfare and the center of regular social contact The AM radio station opens its daily broadcast with a two hour devotional service Public prayer opens the school day and most public events During October and November, farm produce and home baked goods are brought into BVI churches and children perform special hymns and recitations in an annual Harvest Festival In August, congregations join in commemoratingemancipation with a special service at the site wherethe emancipation proclamation was read on1 August 1834.
GENDER ROLES OF WOMEN Girls are expected to stay close to home as opposed to boys who are allowed toventure farther Female students make up at 50% of all students enrolled in every educational level Women have the right to vote at the age of 18 Women hold the majority of positions in education and a significant number ofsenior positions in the civil service Women influence their communities through their church and leadership roles incommunity events such as Festival
MALE GENDER ROLESDivision of Labor: BVI men occupy almost all public offices as well as a significant number of upper-level management positions in the private sector. Nationals from other Caribbean countries are the majority of service workers, with men working in construction and boat maintenance and repair and as gardeners and cooksDivision by Relative Status: Men tend to participate in public life through membership in civic associations and daily information exchange BVI men are more active in politics and law According to the Everyculture.com “The status of men and women alike. It is measured in terms of the strong independent and entrepreneurial spirit that is held to be characteristic of British Virgin Islanders of both genders.” Read more: Culture of British Virgin Islands http://www.everyculture.com/Bo-Co/British-Virgin-Islands.html#ixzz1n0d6Xtkr
CLOTHING I N F O R M A L AT T I R E People of the BVI dress very conservatively It is acceptable to wear bikinis and swimsuitson the beaches, but it is illegal to wear suchclothing in certain cities and towns in BVI Men and women are expected to dress conservatively at all times.Women cannot show bare midriffs or wear short shorts. Men shouldnot walk around shirtless or with an unbuttoned shirt. It is fairly unusual to find men in suits and ties, or with raincoats.
COSTUMES BVI does not currently have aformal dress to symbolize theirculture Their costumes represent theirpride, their history and their arts. Costumes are worn during ahuge Festival throughout themonth of August as shown onthe left Miss British Virgin Islands 2010 – Josefina Nuñez National Costume
“FUNGI MUSIC” To understand the history of Fungi music starts with knowing the word meaning. Fungi is derived from a West African word that describes a type of cornmeal dish. A fungi is a “cook up” or a mixture of various flavors that meld together and tastes good. Fungi music roots date back to field slaves who worked the islands sugar plantations. The slaves found song as a way to communicate and sang along to rhythms, which they created with their bodies and tools. Fungi music was the outcome- a „cook up” of music, a sweet mixture of sound that comes together to make sweetAn old time Fungi Band from the 1860s. sounds. Music is an important part of the islands culture, so much so that Fungi music is a part of the school curriculum.
FUNGI BANDS A Fungi band, also called “scratch bands” use instruments ranging fromcalabash, washboard, bongos and ukulele, to more traditional westerninstruments like keyboard, banjo, guitar, bass, triangle and saxophone. . Apart from being a form of festive dance music, Fungi often containshumorous social commentaries, as well as BVI oral history. Modern scratch bands play a wide range of dances, includingcalypsos, boleros, quadrilles, international popsongs, merangues, mazurkas, waltzes, jigs and other styles.
ART IN THE ISLANDS "Caribbean Afternoon" The Haitian "running man“ Fine art print from a figure which the artwork watercolor by Jinx weaves in steel Morgan (photo: Aragorn Studio). Funji Band The Wall, Tortola, BVIThe WallTortola, British Virgin Islands Mangrove Life- Hummingbird by David Thrasher copper wall sculptures.
ART OF THE ISLANDS The works of British Virgin Island artists are prominently displayed inpublic buildings, small shops and galleries. Currently the islands does not have a national art gallery. Art is not formally taught in the school and is not currently a part of thecurriculum. BV Islanders have used art as a way of recording history as with their music. The Caribbean Arts and Crafts Festival is held yearly to honor and render appreciation to local artist and craftsman. Bamboushay Pottery – turtle themed Caribbean Sconce
CONCLUSION To conclude, this presentation sought to capture a glimpse into themagnificent British Virgin Islands. Not only the beauty, but also theessence of the islands including spirituality, history, rituals and politicsin which it derived. Each area of study solidifies our differences inwhich we come from- culture, roles in society, genre of music andeven love of the arts. Respecting our differences can only improve theway we show respect and communicate with others. Knowledge ispowerful.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN? 1. What is the highest form of political power in British Virgin Islands? 2. Which religion is most popular in British Virgin Islands? Why do youthink this is? 3. What aspects do religion bring to BVI society? 4. How do you think changes in gender roles have benefited BVI society? 5. Why do you think it‟s not appropriate to wear swim wear on downtownstreets of BVI?
REFERENCES British Virgin Islands. (n.d). 0001 [Gale Virtual Reference Library] Walter, L. (2003). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Women’s Issues Worldwide: North America and the Caribbean.Connecticut, US: Greenwood Press http://www.missuniverse.com/members/profile/599504/year:2011 http://www.bareboatsbvi.com/bvi_festival_tortola.html http://www.seasprayinnverobeach.com/Concierge-Services.html Clothing and Attire in the Virgin Islands. The Segmental Info System. Retrieved February 20, 2012 fromhttp://virginislandsguide.info/travel.basics/clothing.and.attire/ Moving Center- FAQ. Virgin Island Moving Center. Retrieved February 23, 2012 fromhttp://www.vimovingcenter.com/faq/ Ockerstrom, Lolly. "Virgin Islander Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. 2000. RetrievedFebruary 21, 2012 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3405800163.html
REFERENCES http://www.thearda.com/internationalData/countries/Country_33_1.asp http://www.everyculture.com/Bo-Co/British-Virgin-Islands.html#ixzz1mxXuXmb8 http://www.moon.com/destinations/virgin-islands/background/people-and-culture/religion http://virginislands-guide.info/past.and.present/culture/ http://worldinfozone.com/country.php?country=USVI CIA Factbook, 2012, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vi.html (February 25, 2012). InfoPlease, http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108109.html (February 25, 2012). Pickering, Vernon, The Old and the Unexplored: A Fresh Look at B.V.I. History; IslandSun, 2012, http://www.islandsun.com/abshorthi.html (February, 25, 2012). West Indies Online: http://www.wiol.com/bvi/history.php (February 25, 2012).