What’s in a name?

| 05/06/2009

The question of what is in a name goes back to Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the significance of names goes way back to before biblical times. The first thing you learn about a person is their name.

In fact, many of us may have been born with names that we do not particularly care for and as a result have taken on nicknames. Irrespective, some people spend a great deal of time contemplating what to name their children, pets, businesses and even non-animate objects like homes, boats and cars.

Celebrities and politicians alike have the curse and equal good fortune of having such famous names that they cannot escape them. Event names are equally important.

In light of all of this, the recent indication by the current government to change the name of the Pirates Week Festival has brought about a great deal of discussion and debate. Many people over the years have discussed the idea of changing this several decades old celebration into something that is more politically correct and whose name reflects more of our positive cultural identity, rather than a part of history we would rather all forget and recent activity such as that which occurs off the coast of Somalia.

Piracy has a long and fascinating history that captivates many from the very young to the oldest of history buffs. It is fascinating to think of adventure and mayhem on the open seas. Blockbuster movies like Pirates of the Caribbean glorify the lives of pirates and make them seem almost iconic and heroic to us. The reality of piracy is very different however. They are well known for pillaging and raping and stealing from everyone and leaving destruction in their path. Modern day pirates carry heavy machinery and hold innocent workers captive in fear of their lives – all for the name of the almighty dollar.

The change of name of an annual event is one thing but many of us wonder what real change will come about for the festivities. The manner in which the initial announcement was done (at a church ceremony) has left many unanswered questions. We are all curious to see the new business model for this event.

Will we see the pirate landing done away with? Will children no longer parade around and emulate pirates? Have the current corporate sponsors for this event been included in this decision and will they be given the opportunity to participate in the unfolding of the event? What will replace the launch? How will the rebranding and marketing of this event occur? Is this an immediate change and will stakeholders have sufficient time for the planning of this year’s events?

Many people will agree that there was a need to evaluate this annual event. It has never been a personal favorite of mine. Most of you will not know that a Pirate’s Week celebration almost caused me my life as a child when a drunk driver from that event hit me and several other children who were walking on the road. So, there will be no love lost for me on a personal level. However, I am hopeful that sufficient consideration has been given to all of the elements of re-branding this event and all stakeholders – including the Caymanian people will be given ampleopportunity to give some input into the reshaping of this annual event.

Will a Pirate’s Week event by any other name still be pirate’s week?


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  1. half less a point says:

    "After last year’s Pirates Week I decided to give up my schooling and become a pirate.  Following a visit to Somalia I can assure you that it was not as glamorous as I thought and there was no-one who looked like Johnny Depp or Keira Knightley.  So impressionable youth of Cayman, please do not be tempted by the pirates life like I was.

    This without a doubt is the biggest pile of hogwash I have ever heard. Anyone with half a brain knows this is just plain waste of pixles on a screen."

    No way man – I heard of a guy who went and didquite well. In fact, Wikipedia says about MV Sirius Star: "Ransom money has also been delivered to pirates via parachute, as happened in January 2009 when an orange container with $3 million cash inside it was dropped onto the deck of the supertanker MV Sirius Star to secure the release of ship and crew."

    3 million bucks ain’t bad, Arrrr… 

    Now I’m not saying this was the guy from Half Moon Bay, but still…


  2. Anonymous says:


    Thank you for this insightful piece. Seems that you are ahead fo the game as usual on this as other media outlets have now written editorial pieces on this: http://www.caymannetnews.com/news-16074–8-8—.html

    I agree that this name changes causes a lot of concern for those of us in the tourism business. The proposed new name does ABSOLUTELY nothing to see Cayman.  Mr. Bush has unfortunately jumped the gun on this issue to appease a few Christian groups. It’s a dangerous game that we are playing when we pander to these special interest groups. They interferred with the constitution and now this – when we will see a separation of church and state?

  3. Good PR for Pirates says:

    Dear 12.41 did your school dictionary not have the word "sarcasm" in it?

  4. Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

    Mac got the sequence wrong- first you pillage and THEN you burn.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I’m not sure McKeeva has thought through this properly! As usual he’s a dictator.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If this is what Mckeeva did with Pirates Week (which is a very important event for the Cayman Islands), can you imagine how other matters of substance will be (mis)handled?   We’ve only just begun. 

  7. Avast There says:

    Well shiver me timbers – next year I am taking my vacation going on a rope-making extravaganza!  The list you provided really proves my point about the paucity of domestic culture when compared to the arts and histopry available in most of the rest of the world.  No-one is going to come to Cayman to see some quadrilles (which are European in origin anyway) or any of the rest of the items your list. 

    In fact I went to some of the Heritage Days, enjoyed them and learned from them, but they really are only of interest if you live here.  No-one can really say they are going to be a tourist draw.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Well shiver me timbers"

      All of our culture is derived from elsewhere (because there was no indigenous population) but all these things have a unique Caymanian flavour. 

      Hey, I didn’t say that our cultural expressions are rich by comparison to some of our Caribbean neighbours, or that they would bring many tourists.  That is a point that you could have made without being insulting. It would be unrealistic to expect us to compete in that department with a native population of under 20,000. Considering we are completely swamped we don’t do badly.   

  8. Aaaarrrr says:

    Honestly, the whole thing bores me anyway. So as long as there are scantily clad young women jumping through the streets sobrietly challenged then call it whatever. To quote a caller to Radio Cayman in the late 80’s, in a very posh English accent, "I think they should call it Bounders Week."

    Look it up

  9. Avast There says:

    Before you call me ignorant 1932 poster, I have been to these Heritage Day events.  The experience only helped convince me of the validity of the point I was making.  Some old recipes, tasty thought they may be, do not a culture make.

    • Anonymous says:

      Avast there. There is always a great deal more at these heritage events than tasty recipes. There was quadrille dancing, caboose cooking, rope-making, traditional dress, displays of artifacts, even skits and story -telling in some cases etc.  You have only helped confirm my view that you have no idea what you’re talking about. You have no point except to be insulting to Caymanians.  

  10. Good PR for Pirates says:

    After last year’s Pirates Week I decided to give up my schooling and become a pirate.  Following a visit to Somalia I can assure you that it was not as glamorous as I thought and there was no-one who looked like Johnny Depp or Keira Knightley.  So impressionable youth of Cayman, please do not be tempted by the pirates life like I was.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good PR for Pirates…

      After last year’s Pirates Week I decided to give up my schooling and become a pirate.  Following a visit to Somalia I can assure you that it was not as glamorous as I thought and there was no-one who looked like Johnny Depp or Keira Knightley.  So impressionable youth of Cayman, please do not be tempted by the pirates life like I was.

      This without a doubt is the biggest pile of hogwash I have ever heard. Anyone with half a brain knows this is just plain waste of pixles on a screen.

      I know we are not top of the scale in education but even at our lowest end our youth would not begin to consider this stupidity.

      Tell me outside of your words above has anyone heard of anyone doing this? Has anyone heard of anyone proclaiming to be thinking about this? The answer is NO. It’s just a silly remark to state something that someone could dream up happenining that will never happen.

      It’s just a name people. No one thinks Pirates were boy scouts. Tell me this should we therefore stop our kids from trick or treating isn’t this the day of the dead? Surely if our adults can’t realise we are only messing with a piece of our history for our own financial gain then our kids will of course be adversly affected by this event also. WAIT!!! Hold that thought let’s stop horror movies also because we believe everything we see right and hold it as facts. So no more horror movies. Where else can I take this axe to since wewant to be overly dramatic at everything? Huuummm. Plays, they are messed up also cause people, our people are actually playing them out.

      Do you see my point as yet? No one here truly cares about the pirates aspect of it in truth we only want the food and partying. The ones that care about the pirates aspect is our foreign guest. They themselves probably would not come if it was not for that but we the locals realise it for what it is, well excluding you and the churchs who can’t get your heads out of the duldrums of the words Pirates Week.

      Do you think it solves the biggest issue of alcohol? That’s the real issue. People drinking. But if they don’t have this they will go to the bars and clubs so you stop nothing. All you do is sink the Cayman Islands further into debt. And probably cause a whole lot of business to close and people to loose their jobs so YOU can sleep better for 1 week out of the year. Woo hoo some victory.

      If the late Mr. Jim Bodden can see how mentally challeneged we have become as a society he would be turning over in his grave today. 

      It’s a name. Just a name. But an important name if you want visitors but for us its only a name.

  11. Is it 1st April? says:

    What does Pirates Week have to do with what is happening in Somalia?  Nothing.  Lots of other places have this type of fun.  Tampa’s is growing each year and no-one wants to interfere with that.  Week is fun.  People come for the fun.  A Cultural Festival sounds dull. It sounds like something out of Communist EasternEurope.    A Heritage Festival sounds worse.  But I am intrigued by the concept of "’lude dancing"!

  12. Avast there! says:

    How can Cayman have a Cultural Week when it has no culture?

    • Anonymous says:

      "How can Cayman have a Cultural Week when it has no culture?"

      While attempting to ridicule Caymanians you have only exposed your own ignorance. While the event has been called Pirates Week the piracy aspect was really only emphasised at the beginning and ending of the week. During the week each district has a Heritage Day which celebrates Caymanian culture. Perhaps the name "Cultural Week" will help you make the connection.     

      • Anonymous says:

        Culture of Cayman

        Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/07/2009 – 19:32.

        You are right we do have a culture but to be honest Pirates are apart of it also like it or like it not.

        The thing is this. We use Pirates Week to bring people here. It’s merely a tool which is used as the means to an end. Once here we do a playout of this twice to reaffirm the tool by an opening invasion and a closing activities. The rest is our culture.

        Now comes the issue of the name. The name is the tool and I am sure Mr. Jim Bodden thought about this carefully many years ago also knowing full well the intent. I am sure he thought about calling it something else and came up with this as the best and most lucrative way forward.

        Ask anyone in Marketing who has years under their belt how the two compare marketing wise and what their percieved outcome would be. I will help you out on this as I do have a smidgeon of Marketing in my educational background. It’s going to be hard to sell simply because the term Cultural Festival means so much to so many but none of it has that "Ooh my God I gotta go see this" in it. Pirates on the other hand have had so many movies made about them and the thought of dressing up as one and partying like they supposedly did means fun for many. So Pirates Week does have a very sellable side to it.

        Now is it the name they have issue with our the activities? One person’s comments differs from another. One person claims we need to stop glorifying the pirates and another calls for us to change the whole thing.

        If the name changes it’s a hard sell but if the interior stays the same well it’s hard yes but probably still somewhat sellable if you can get this message accross effectively. Now if the whole thing changes we can call it the night and just pack the whole thing in cause you know what half of us won’t even go to it much less foreigners having to pay US$2,000 to come here. Then throw into account the current financial times and you have a recipe for utter disaster.

        This has disaster written all over it at a time when we do not need it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Avast there!

      Pirates are apart of our history like it or not. Not the most beautiful part I am sure but a part none the less.

      Our problem is we all live in our own little fairytale land. We can’t see the problems right in front of us. I could go on but it’s pointless. This reminds me of movies about the witch hunts they had back in the 1600’s. They were so fixated on anything a person did that was different that they were willing to burn them at the stake "in the name of religion" so that they could sleep better.

      I think if they would focuss their energies on alcohol abuse on the more global scale they would solve many more issues. Pirates Week amounts to nothing more than an escape coat. They would have us believe that solves everything and we can all move on happily ever after. Thee end.

      WRONG!!! Poinlessly and emphatically WRONG!!

      Kids are still dying on our roads. Still people being murdered. Still tons of drugs on our streets. So many issues to deal with. Classic can’t see the forest for the trees.

      People would rather have you save dolphins nowadays than to take a stand for our children.

  13. Touch it... says:

    I agree! Stop glorifying and celebrating piracy! Think about the children!

    But wait a minute, who has killed, kidnapped and raped more people throughout history, pirates or Christians? 

    Christians, don’t forget, slaughtered, burned, and looted their way across the Middle East during the four Crusades. They also stole gold and land from people in the Caribbean and the Americas. They enslaved or murdered unknown millions. Ouch, the truth hurts. 

    Given this horrible and undeniable legacy of killing and stealing, why are we glorifying and celebrating Christianity in the Cayman Islands? Think about the children!

    • Anonymous says:

      I call hypocrit. from now.

      People please leave your name and numbers at the door so we can send all the people getting laid off to your house for food and money. Do you realise what you are saying?

      There is NO WAY TO SELL Cultural Festival and make money. NONE!!! No one wants to spend $800/person to fly from California or any place in the US to watch us make thatch rope. No one!!!

      This is not about Christian or not or you would go and start lobbying Bars and picketing them and shutting them down. That is where our kids are going. But NO you don’t because you can’t be inside drinking and outside picketing at the same time.

      Before you "wanna be Christians" try to shut down an isolated, once annual event that brings in millions of dollars to our economy from outside of our islands you should look at the deeper more astounding issues we have like our kids going to bars and clubs and drinking and driving home drunk.

      Tell you what go look up how many people got killed going home from Pirates Week and then compare it with how many got killed going home from a bar/nightclub. Or how many people got stabbed at Pirates Week compared against how many got stabbed at a bar/nightclub.

      You see while Pirates Week is bringing in money from foreigners (which is the best kind of money you can get), bars only turn over local dollars and usually from people who can’t afford to spend it anyhow. The money from Pirates Week goes mostly into local business who are paying locals to work, hence back into ours hands. The bars/nightclubs hire mostly foreign workers like the prostitutes from Honduras and other locations or Canadians or US where that money often goes back outside the country. PS I have nothing against foreigners but just saying it’s great money vs not as good money.

      So in all I am simply saying before you attack something that is far less dangerous and is more healthy for the Cayman Islands finacially you should attack a TRUE issue such as our bars. You can start by ticketing and forcing law makers to do things to curb liquor drinking by maybe jacking up the cost of alcohol in the Cayman Islands so our government can make more money.

      Pirates Week is not about glorifying Pirates but about simply having something to draw people to the Cayman Islands to spend money. It’s silly people like you that can not see the forest for the trees. Just step back and think about why Mr. Jim created the whole thing to begin with.

      Ahhhhhh. You wanna be Christians are so silly. You single out one thing bacause you don’t want to see the real issues right under your feet. And also let me not forget. Please make sure your kids who you don’t spend enough time talking to don’t be out til passed 10pm at the clubs.

      Aahhhhhh. You guys make me so angry because we have real issues and you seem to pick the one thing doing us some good to single out. Find something for all that extra pent up energy youseem to have and go make some thatch rope.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What is in a name?

    Not a big fan of Pirates Week and the public display of abuse in all areas…

    …….let’s stand back, we are changing the name (but not the content), to something droll and ho-hum; lose the PR that has been built up over the years by DOT and various do-gooding charitable organisations that have push and come to Cayman (Seatle Seafarers),as bad is Pirates Week is, there is some good, but to change the name—what will that achieve, no tourists will come (or what little that did come, will not come they may have heard of Pirates week-and want to come for Pirates Week, but now?)  

    …..and yet we keep places like LI and Next Level open for our young people to drink and party until 3AM?  Come on…….Lude dancing and drinking goes on every night of the week….take a look at some of the videos on Party Surfers.  

    Pirates Week, in my opinion, has run its course, don’t just change the name….why not combine it with Jazz Fest/ Cayman Arts Festival/Batabano  (how about that word, Bata?)    (don’t even let me go there!) 


    Priority in wrong direction……helpus fix our future leaders from being out until 3AM and driving home….take all the money thrown away with Pirates Week and start a Cayman Youth Orchestra, National choir, Performing Arts school, Childrens Visual Arts………(Check out the Venezuela Youth Orchestra)….lets channel our young people’s creativity to something positive——–CANCEL PIRATES WEEK ALTOGETHER; CLOSE BARS TO A REASONABLE HOUR, AMALGAMATE FESTIVALS…..

    Please….change the name?  Nothing changes (except the original intent of attracting more business, tourists to this island)

  15. anonymous says:

    Yes, pretty obvious this was Mac’s own decision and not one made by his side show of brainy advisers.  There is absolutely no benefit in this one to anybody including Mac….that’s why I conclude he made this one on his own….he not got what it takes to make sensible decisions! Instead, he makes matters worse for those people out there who do not like the idea of ‘Pirates Week’…he has now embraced the entire ‘drunken pirate lifestyle’ as part of our culture and heritage! If he not got the brains to see that I am truly sorry for this Country under his governance! Does those with some sense surrounding him not cringe and feel embarassed to be on the same platform? If he’s not aware, we already have a month of celebration of our culture and heritage called CayFest; it is held annualy in April/May and I must say the turn out to events is generally poor….perhaps he should be trying to embrace and promote this event instead and leave Pirates Week alone!

    • Anonymous says:

      Here Here. I second this.

      There is no way a cultural festival is going to be as successful as Pirates Week is. This is going to mean a drop in income for the Cayman Islands and at a time like this.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Let me start by saying I disagree with anyone agreeing with this move.

    This is a disaster waiting to happen. A train wreck if you will. Mc I think you listen to silly people too much and forget your primary responsibility is to keep this Island afloat.

    Pirates Week is a theme the same way Holloween is a theme. Do you think our kids actually think they are celebrating anything bad? Do you think we as adults are that naive to not know the true nature of pirates?

    If it’s about drinking woo hoo. Let’s start by closing bars and night clubs shall we. Then where would half of you go after work or during? oops did I go there.

    You all are very silly people who are short sighted at best.

    McKeeva is going to sink this country. These are a very difficult financial time for these Islands and we are making such a radical change to a major event that brings in millions upon millions of dollars into our economy.

    Tell do you really really think someone is going to come from what ever part of the world he/she lives in to see us make thatch rope, do you really believe this? WOW. We are truly run by idiots.

    Pirates Week was a stroke of genious by the late and great Mr Jim Bodden with the help of others I am sure. Shame on you Mr McKeeva for disrespecting his legacy for some stupid  (behind the sceens) agreement with the churchs so you can grab a few more votes. What’s next Mr. Mc, let me guess you want to make it that you don’t have to have elections in 2013?

    If you want to get smart why don’t you try to do an event like this in say July/August when the kids from the US and Cayman are out of school and make it a family event and try to see if we can bring some life to those dead months. But please leave Mr. Bodden’s legacy alone.

    Churchs, do us all a favour and get back to saving souls and please stay out of politics. Did Jesus ever go into the halls of justice and try to create policy in Rome? I don’t think it’s in my version of the bible. Your job is to educate us in the ways of the lord not try to create laws and influence politicians. STOP the foolishness.

    I don’t even go to the event but I know it’s value to our economy. Are you prepared to support the businesses that will go under because of lack of tourism? Are you prepared to feed the people who loose their jobs? Think people think!!!!

    This is from one angry Caymanian

  17. Anonymous says:

    Dear A journey starts with a single step,

    Why the need to attack the author? I thought this was a well balanced piece that asked questions and did not jump to any conclusions. We all have a lot of questions – you do not unveil a program change and only statethat the name is changing. Does that make much sense to you?

    I don’t care what % of the votes Sandra got she has always been and will continue to be a voice for the majority of the people. Funny enough, she had the same voice when the PPM was in power – I wish for her to continue her efforts and don’t be discouraged by biased persons like yourself.

    Sandra – express yourself!!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    So here I am in Chicago wanting an October Cayman vacation – Pirates Week or Cultural Week.  Which one is going to grab my attention?  "Cultural Week" doesn’t even roll off the tongue.


    • Johnny Cake says:

      “So here I am in Chicago wanting an October Cayman vacation –
      Pirates Week or Cultural Week.  Which one is going to grab my attention? 
      “Cultural Week” doesn’t even roll off the tongue”

      What’s wrong? Your not interested in learning or celebrating people’s culture? No
      problem, we will pay $100,000 or so and bring down the seattle pirates like we
      do every year so that you can enjoy pirates week. But wait, if its the pirates your
      coming for, isn’t it cheaper to fly straight to seattle from chicago? Arghhh, Captain!

  19. Anonymous says:

    A journey starts with a single step.

    And the name change is a good first step, which has been initiated by the UDP and they deserve credit for taking that first step.

    Suffice it to say now people should, thankful to the UDP, always be able to compare the new name to what actually happens ‘on the ground’ and hopefully never settle until what is ultimately reflected is truly Cayman Culture.

    Of course, piracy will always be a part of Caribbean history (and by extension Cayman’s history because it is located in the Caribbean) – but don’t feel bad about that – racism will always be a part of America’s history.

    The challenge, and I believe the UDP has set in motion this development by changing the name – is that as a nation we need to focus on our culture, not just one aspect of our history that many feel should be forgotten or not have its importance overstated. 

    It should also be remembered that the PPM Govt was even afraid to change the name – so UDP deserves credit for having the ability to actually make a decision – be it popular or otherwise.

    In closing, I believe we – including disgruntled wanna be politicians who are only able to attract 5% of the vote in their district – need to give the UDP Government a chance. The UDP Government has only been in office two weeks and are already tackling a myriad of issues the people shows by their vote the PPM had failed to succeed on.

  20. Anonymous says:

    As usual McKeeva jumped up and made an announcement but did not speak to anyone about it. Digicel is a sponsor and they signed up for "Pirate’s Week". What happens now if they decide they DO NOT want to fund McKeeva’s new event? Is the Cayman Islands government prepared to pick up the sponsorship tab for the event?

    We the people will end up paying for this knee jerk reaction. I don’t mind chaning the event but I agree that no consultation was undertaken and this has not been thought out completely. The DOT and Ministry staff did not even know anything about it. Why does McKeeva always think he’s a 1 man show? A circus is more like it.

    God help us!

  21. Anonymous says:

    So we are now calling it "Heritage Week?" or some other name more suitable? If the new name is heritage  driven and the pirates are still landing, what does that say? This was a knee jerk reaction without thought! If the actions and events of the week do not change, then we are saying that pirates are our Culture and/or heritage, as is drinking and lude dancing. No points scored here…