Janell, our Assistant Finance Manager is from Antigua and Barbuda. The country recently celebrated its Independence Day. We noticed the pin Janell was wearing, and she shared this story with us:
“Earlier this month, my country Antigua and Barbuda, celebrated 28 years of Independence. This year’s theme is One Family: Reviving our National Pride. It is with this national pride that I share my heritage with the Wisteria family.
The twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean. Antigua, the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, is about 108 square miles in size, while Barbuda, a flat coral island with an area of only 68 square miles, lies about 30 miles north. Temperatures generally range from mid-seventies in the winter to the high-eighties to low-nineties in the summer. There are 365 beaches on Antigua and Barbuda, one for each day of the year.
On November 1, 1981, Antigua and Barbuda gained Independence from Britain after becoming dependencies in 1967. The celebration of Independence Day is a festive occasion. The celebrations consist of a week of competitions, parades, expos, and food fairs. About two weeks before Independence Day, local businesses, schools, and government buildings decorate in the traditional fabric of the National Dress, called the madras, which is used for clothing and decoration. The National Dress is worn by many on this day in its original form and in different variations. It is a symbol of national pride and is worn with dignity.
The National Flag can also be seen throughout the islands. It was designed by a nationally acclaimed artist and sculptor, Sir Reginald Samuel, in 1967. The colors have different meanings. The black is for the African ancestry of the people, the blue for hope, the red for energy or dynamism of the people. The successive coloring of yellow, blue, and white (from the sun down) also stands for the sun, sea, and sand. The blue also represents the Caribbean Sea, the V-shape is the symbol of victory, and the rising sun symbolizes the dawning of a new era.
As a young girl, I can remember the many activities that took place throughout the island. My fondest memory is of the annual Youth Rally, where thousands of youths from all the schools would come together and parade the streets of the capital, St John’s, in an explosion of talent, creativity, and rich cultural display. The annual food fair is also a favorite. It attracts many people, both natives and tourists, to feast on the various local cuisines. Our National Dish, and also my favorite of the many local dishes, is fungie (pronounced foon-jee) and pepperpot, and can be found at any food fair and cooked in every home. Pepperpot is a soup-like dish with a mix of various vegetables and meats, and fungie is a cooked cornmeal paste served into little balls.
Beauty, rich culture, and fine cuisine all depict the majesty of my country as we celebrate 28 years of Independence. Two islands, one people, joined in national pride.”