The United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB) on Saturday held another very successful cultural show in Brooklyn in its continuing efforts in raising funds to assist, with medical supplies, hospitals and health centers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The 14th annual, 2 ½-hour event took place at Meyer Levin Intermediate School 285, on Ralph Avenue and Beverley Road.
As in previous years, the cultural package attracted a large number of Caribbean nationals, including a significant amount of Jamaicans who worship with some UVCGB members at Miracle Temple Ministries, an evangelical church in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.
UVCGB members performed several folk songs and speeches, including “Keep We Culture Alive,” “SVG Diaspora,” “Green Peas Soup,” “Fish Fuh So” and “Plenty Wuk Fuh School Pickney.”
The latter was written by Olsen Peters, a cultural icon in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who went to the Great Beyond earlier this year. A moment of silence was observed for Peters, and UVCGB president Dr. Roxie Irish paid a brief tribute to him.
Jonathan Yearwood, a New Jersey resident, of Vincentian and Indian parentage, captivated the appreciative audience, triggering their participation in his rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Taurus Riley’s “Just the Way You Are, Girl.”
Trinidadian Nadia Douglas, performed, on steel pan, the folk song “Ole Woman Walk a Mile” and the spiritual “How Great Thou Art.”
“Steel pan has always been a passion for me,” said Douglas, who began playing pan at 12, while attending the Belmont Junior Secondary School, on the environs of Trinidad’s capital, Port-of-Spain.
In New York, Douglas played with her compatriot Jeffrey Pierre’s Unique Sound Ablest, performing at, among other places, panorama, churches and colleges, such as Medgar Evers, Baruch and St. John’s.
At show’s end, Vincentian philanthropist Georgietha “Aunty G” Nanton sang against the use of drugs, and the Brooklyn-based Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (GIPSVG) danced quadrille.
But the highlight of the event was a skit, “Comess fuh So,” written by UVCGB’s songwriter and choreographer Randolph “Randy” Liverpool.
The main characters were: Judith “Baffie” Cuffy-Murray, as Sammy’s wife, Mabel; Lilius Hamblin as Gertrude (Comess woman); Gwendolyn Holder as Carol (Mabel’s best friend) and Vennis Alleyne as Mavis (Gertrude’s best friend).
Other members of the cast were: Maurisa Adams as the ticket agent; Ralphie Cunningham as Mr. Cruikshank, the funeral director; Zachary Spence as the mailman; and Ann Franklyn, La Fleur Gumbs and Sonia Morris as Mabel’s friends.
The skit was based on Mabel’s residence in the US for over 20 years, without a green card, and failing to progress economically and educationally – essentially in the same position as she left home.
Mabel’s husband Sammy contracts AIDS and dies, leaving her a pauper.
Carol discloses Mabel’s private affairs to Gertrude, who starts “the comess” (gossip), even while vowing to keep the “secret” strictly confidential.
Gertrude even adds more to “the comess” than what Carol reveals.
Mabel wants to take Sammy’s body back home for the funeral, as she had promised him in life, but lacks the financial resources. So, her friends agree to “to stand the expense.”
Wishing to take gifts to her friends back home — clearly unable to send a barrel — Mabel places the gifts in the casket, with Sammy’s body.
After the funeral, Gertrude tells Mabel that she does not have “a friend in Carol” and not to trust her.
Gertrude then reveals to Mabel everything that Carol told her about her [Mabel], ruining the friendship between Mabel and Carol.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ New York Council General Howie Prince and president of the umbrella, Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), Laverne McDowald-Thompson, also addressed patrons.
Founded in 2003 by its president, Dr. Irish, a former national netball star in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and a Born-Again Christian, UVCGB, has, over the years, used funds raised at concerts and other activities, to assist clinics and hospitals in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with medical supplies.
Among other UVCGB goals is the promotion of Vincentian culture in North America and other places through folk songs, chorale speeches, skits, storytelling, plays, poems and dances.
Besides concerts, the group performs at, among others, prayer breakfasts and Christmas serenades.