Premier backs project to teach kids Cayman heritage

| 05/09/2011

(CNS): Concerned about the need for young people to gain an understanding of their heritage the premier has partnered with Cayman Traditional Arts to start an afterschool programme for school children in years five and six. Mckeeva Bush, said ‘Bringing Heritage to Life’ will be available to students in all districts and will over twelve weeks expose children to the history and traditions that have been neglected by the regular school curriculum. . “We need to ensure that every Caymanian child knows who they are and where they come from; to have a deep understanding of heritage and culture, taught through history and art traditions of the Cayman Islands,” Bush said.

It is not clear which budget the programme is being funded from as neither the ministries responsible for culture or education are involved.

CNS asked the premier’s office if the project was being funded from the nation building fund or another source and we were told the programme is a “partnership between Cayman Traditional Arts and the Office of the Premier.”

“This programme is necessary, and for too long we have neglected this all too important component of our curriculum. This is a programme I wanted to launch many years now. I feel the times we live in now prove critical for us to do so. We don’t want our sense of self to be lost forever,” Bush added.

Chris Christian of CTA will the programme across all three islands and the premier said he could find no other person better suited to the project.

“Chris Christian is a Native Son, a celebrated local artist who has dedicated his life to the preservation of our heritage,” Bush said. “For the last seven years and through his company Cayman Traditional Arts, Mr. Christian has taught both locals and tourists about Cayman’s soul through culture and tradition. His knowledge of where we come from is vast and he is able to display that information in an artistic and engaging format. I am proud to have him on board this pilot programme. I have no doubt with his combined talents and passion this programme will be a success for our children.”

Christian has volunteered his time over the last few years at schools to teach students. In this programme, he will bring on board other local well-known artisans and historians he has worked with over the years to transfer their knowledge to the students. Over the 12 weeks the students will learn seafaring & thatch, cuisine & culinary skills as well as traditional games and entertainment.

“Bringing Heritage to Life” will launch this Monday, 5th September 2011 in the school hall of John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay from 3 to 5pm.

For further information, please call Chris Christian at 926-0119 or e-mail


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  1. Anonymous says:

    The comments here are astounding. This programme is truly making a difference in children's lives. Not only is this programme being taught after school, and I'm glad to know that it has made its way into the everyday classrooms in Year 6 across the country as well. 

    I am witnessing first hand the impact being made on these children. They are truly interested in learning what their heritage is about. What many people may not realise is that there is a distinct difference beween heritage and culture. But it is in knowing your heritage that can help solidify your culture.

    Most other Caribbean countries have a strong sense of who they are and this is evident in their culture. But it is their heritage that strengthens their sense of self. That is what is lacking in the Cayman Islands – a strong sense of self.

    Whether this programme is taught during the school day or after school, the benefits can only be rewarding. I am fortunate that my child is benefiting from this programme and when he comes  home from school with his whompers or silver thatch rope and can teach me the historical significance of these items and the role they played in our history  – it truly is gratifying. My child happens to be of mixed background – I am a "foreginer" and his father is Caymanian ….but it is here that we live, so it is here with which that my child must first identify. He is excited every week to see "Mr. Chris" and his team, to see what else he will be learning about his home.

    I am no Mckeeva fan, but I have to say that this programme that he and Rolston have supported, is one of the most impactful decisions they have ever made because I for one am able to say that my child is reaping the rewards. 

    There is no need for all the negativity that I see posted here …it only serves to add to the ever-growing division. At some point, we need to look past our differences and and identify the ways in which we can help each other help Cayman.


  2. Just Commentin' says:

    What a farce! Am I the only one who grasps the irony and hypocrisy behind Bush's promotion and framing of the proposed programme?

    Mr. Prymeer wastes a lot of hot air extolling the critical importance of having all students inculcated with our heritage and history, and yet the best he can come up with is a second-rate, afterthought programme that does not even merit quality time (and a grade) as a meaningful part of the main curriculum during the regular school day. Gee. How very sad.

    This will be an "afterschool" programme. Yeah. As if students are gonna forego getting home to their IM's and TV and show up in droves at the school hall to learn how to work with thatch and make wampahs.

    As for the time frame, ask any competent educator: by the end of the regular school day student's attention spans are shot and so is thepotential for any meaningful learning and internalisation to take place. It might be a nice arts and crafts session, but I doubt any psyches will be remoulded.

    This article is a good illustration of the truth of the matter: we really don't care a whole lot about our heritage. No, not even Makeewa cares. We just pay lip service to appreciation of Caymanian heritage, so we can feel all fluffy and good inside; maybe we give it some token acknowledgement, to make us feel more "Caymanian" – but nothing more.

    One phrase in the article says it all "…history and traditions…have been neglected by the regular school curriculum".  I wonder why?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great, so what will the students do after the first twenty minutes when they've learned all of cayman 'heritage'?

    Will they also learn about caymans' history of child abuse, domestic violence, animal abuse, immigration discrimination, violent crime, public purse thefts, inexcusable abuses of public positions, obeayah, tax evasion, work permits, near to extinction turtle culling, fish poo beaches, no minimum wages, pirating, slavery (The first census of the Islands was taken in 1802, showing a population on Grand Cayman of 933, of whom 545 were slaves. – kind of like how it is now, just with the colors reversed…), crocodile elimination, late emancipation, corruption, Jamaican dependence and now hate, and lastly (but probably not) Caymans' most prolific historic export? Seamen. (I think that's how it's spelled)..Somehow fitting…

    • Anonymous says:

      What nonsense. You can similarly go to any country and make a long list of negatives (some a lot worse than Cayman) if you really try. If you have nothing good to say say nothing at all. And if you hate Cayman so much, why stay? 

      • Just Commentin' says:

        Sorry, 10:33, I beg to differ. I love this territory and I hate to see it falling apart. Being substantially blind to reality is one of the reasons these islands are going to hell in a handbasket.


        "If you have nothing good to say say nothing at all", translates as: "Being in denial is a good thing, Bo Bo! If you start to notice anything bad, go stick your head in the sand – and on those rare occasions when you pull it out, just smile and say everything is jusssst peachy."


        You just added another negative to his list: "A populace drowing in apathy and denial".

    • Anonymous says:

      Fish poo beaches?  That our world famous Seven Mile Beach is largely the accumulation of parrotfish poo is… what?  An embarrassment?  A crime?  A damning commentary on the current Caymanian political system?  Every society has problems in its past.  If you put as much energy on identifying the positives of Cayman's past,you would find FAR more to type about.


    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous Wed 09/07/2011 9:03 you've learned absolutely nothing about Cayman's wonderful history before you are rolled out? I suggest that you re-read  your country's history and you will discover that  your assumed knowledge of Caymans' history is the history of whence you came ninus the Seamen as your country of origin is nothing more than free loader s without culture, heritage or class.  Thank God Caymanians are in their own country one that we are veryproud of.  The same cannot be said for you because you are here trying to ridicule Caymanians in there own country while running away from your muck hole of a country.

    • Anonymous says:

      my my, aren't we grumpy today.

    • Anonymous says:

      ^^^ I'm afraid this is the result of your Imigration policies Cayman.  This is the outcome of your written test.  These are the sort of people who are being granted residency here, while others more fitting to be here are being rolled over.  SMH.  Very sad.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don't forget to kick it off with a meat patty and Jupina


  5. Anonymous says:

    Great Mr. Premier – the culture of Cayman has been on the out and out for years now.  Why only now address it?  Why not address a more IMMEDIATE, URGENT matter – CRIME?!  Teaching culture in school is truly admirable, however I believe spending money on this now with budget cuts, missing finances and an exponentially growing crime rate is a moot point.  Address the urgent, really-will-take-the-island-down-to-Haiti-status issues first, THEN yes, spend all the money you want on culture.  But please – let's PRIORITIZE, shall we?!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It's a shame that tradition has to be taught in school.

    • Anonymous says:

      Growing up in the US, all students were required (in about 5th grade) to take a history class that was the history of the state in which I lived.  The class was interesting and beneficial.

      Teaching the history and tradition of the Cayman Islands in school is an opportunity.


      • Just Commentin' says:

        Did you read the article? We are not talking about a required history class here. What the article describes sounds more like an arts and crafts session with a little Caymanian history thrown in – afterschool at that.


        • Anonymous says:

          Yes.  I read the article and I was "just commentin' " that, as a child I took a history course in school that I found interesting and beneficial.  I think a similar programme in Cayman would be good.  I made no judgement call on the specific programme suggested by the Premier but only commented generally that I believe that a class of that type would have value.  Let me add at this point, I believe a class of that type would have value whether it was required or voluntary, in school or after school.

          And your point is?



          • Anonymous says:

            I believe the point was that culture and history of the Cayman Islands should be integrated into the existing history curriculum at all schools, not into an after-school programme as an afterthought.  People from all countries should know their own history, as well as that of others.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a long serving teacher her and I remember that wise old proud Caymanian statesman Mr Warren Connolly telling me he thought it was ridiculous that culture/heritage/tradition had to be taught in schools. His view was that if the parents did not think it important enough to impart it to their children, it would never survive. Sorry, but I think he was dead right.

      I suppose I can await the thumbs down.

      • Anonymous says:

        It's a valid viewpoint.  But are we, as a society, willing to surrender the history and heritage of us all because a few (or even, maybe, more than a few) parents are unwilling or unable to acknowledge the importance of teaching culture/heritage/tradition?

        We as a community need to decide if we think it is important (I vote "yes") and then decide how we can make that knowledge available to anyone who wants it.  It has been my experience that there are young people today who are looking for an "anchor" for themselves culturally and are more than willing to receive such instruction.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn't it be better to maintain Cayman's heritage instead of trashing the island with  seven story hotels, and. . . Oh, I give up, what's the bloody point?  The government has absolutely no joined up policies.  Parents: teach you children about Cayman's heritage because it's going. . .going. . .going. . . gone. 

    • Just Commentin' says:

      I gave you a "thumb up". In reality it's too late for the part about "…going… going… going…"  It's gone!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Will this program  also teach that there was  time, Pre Mac, when the desires and input of the people were listened to and respected by those that were elected?

    This is nor longer a part of our culture but is has been relegated to our past, or heritage.

    Thanks UDP.  Except for the ambivalence of the other elected UDP members it could still be real today.  But because of their lack of concern for anything but Mac's wishes, it will be a part of our history.

  9. Anonymous says:

    what is cayman heritage?


      15:04  and what is your heritage? Because yours truly must be the white sand and cool waters of Cayman, think again.

      • Anonymous says:

        if it was heritage worth keeping it, it would never have been forgotten or would not have to re-taught!

        • Anonymous says:


          People have become too busy and there are too many other cultural influences for ANY history or tradition to remain at the forefront of anyone's awareness.  Traditional culture and history is kept alive around the world through formal and informal education of persons of all ages.  You are simply trying to belittle and denigrate (use a dictionary if you have to) the history and culture of the Cayman Islands.

          You sound like the characters in the movie Spies Like Us:  "We mock what we do not understand." 

        • Anonymous says:

          It isgratuitously meanspirited, derogatory, ignorant comments like this that deepen and widen the divide between Caymanians and expats. We have a proud heritage. Much of it is being left by the wayside as we are overwhelmed by other cultural influences.   

          • Just Commentin' says:

            The divide between expats and Caymanians has always been a wide one; it is somewhat bridged by economic necessity and the small size of the community. The divide is often masked in social nicety, but it is very wide nevertheless. And the gap is getting wider because as a country we are turning into monumental screw-ups that few but the most hopeless morons would want to cozy up to, or take seriously.

            Oh sure, we attract "investors", but my point becomes clear when one realises that Cayman's most prolific investor is essentially a ghost who is unseen by all but a very few (influential) Caymanians. Pretty large divide, I'd say.

            Because I am of an open mind and project a cosmopolitan outlook, people tend to open up and confide in me – probably because they know I will not "puff up" if they share their candid comments (just as long as they are rational ones anyway – I have been known to "go Rambo" at stupid stuff). Most Caymanians would probably be greatly surprised by how many very intelligent and genuinely nice expats make fun of Caymanians these days. In my opinion we deserve the derision. For a people with such a lofty opinion of ourselves we do astoundingly ignorant things in critically important areas. Two prime examples are, putting Makeewa into power, and voting "yes" to a glaringly deficient constitution. And then to make it even more comical all we do is whine about it when our dumb follies inevitably go fubar.

            What is there not to make fun of? We are a broke country with a megalomanical clown as Numero Uno and yet between bouts of whining we act like our stit don't shink. Too damn funny.

    • Anonymous says:

      Watch the Premeirs sings video or maybe you shouldn't let the kids watch.  Especially if you want them to be proud of their heritage.  You might not want them to see any of your Government workers in action either.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am amazed at some of the people on here. Critizing us as Caymanians for trying to perserve our heritage is just wrong.  No one says this is what they are going to make a career out ofand so what if some of them want to. There is nothing left in this country that isn't influenced by some other country or nationality. it would be nice like in  all of the other Caribbean night to see local craft rather than something sold as a souvenir but made in China. This is a way of preserving our traditions so that these may be passed on to future generations.

    When a country loses it culture then what does it have? Only ignorant and foolish people throw out the baby with the bath water! Thanks guys for working with our young children to keep out traditions alive.


    • Anonymous says:

      I have no problem with learning about one's heritage, but perhaps the money could be better spent on English grammar and spelling lessons.

      • Anonymous says:

        Again with the grammar critique.  Most of these entries are probably written on the fly, without pausing to double check grammar and spelling.  After all, this isn't a submission for a PhD, just a comment on a website.  To criticize spelling and grammar of user comments on this site (or any site for that matter) is to be a bit dense and pedantic.  Which, I suspect, is a perfect description of the poster at 22:09.

        I also suspect that anyone criticizing grammar and spelling in a comments section on the internet is probably doing so out of frustration that they are just too damn stupid to make a useful contribution to the discussion.


        • Anonymous says:

          Oh please! Give us a break! What is your contribution then? Pot calling kettle black.

          • Anonymous says:

            Since you asked…

            Comments on Mon at 15:30 and 15:50 are mine.

            Comments on Tue at 5:38 and 5:45 are mine.

            Which ones are yours?



        • Anonymous says:

          05.51. You undermine you own argument by writing well. And yes, spelling and punctuation errors should be ignored when they result from texting while overtaking perhaps, but grammar is a deeper reflection of how you speak. Many contributors' first language is not English, and there's no shame in their mistakes, but shouldn't  a native writer distinguish  between, 'there' and  'their', 'affect' and 'effect' or 'pass' and 'passed?' This isn't being pedantic, it's a matter of  basic English.


          I know  many readers couldn't care less, (or should I say, "could care less?" ) but if you express yourself well, won't your opinion carry more weight? I'm  grateful to all contributors, because they care enough to take part in the public debate, but you seem to think those who would like to elevate writing standards prove themselves to be, how did you put it, 'too damn stupid' and 'dense and pedantic?'  I do agree that ridiculing mistakes is misguided and negative, but  language is a tool, and like any tool, it should be used properly and with respect, and only then can it become powerful.

          • Anonymous says:

            Point taken.  I would agree that if you can more carefully craft an opinion or response it would probably be more clear to everyone and therefore "carry more weight".  I also have nothing against elevating the writing standards.  But time and time again I see comments that have nothing to do with the topic of the moment but are merely criticisms of the grammar or spelling of the previous poster.  My writing skills are passable at best and I would certainly not pass judgement on the "proper" writing form of anyone posting on the internet.  We are all at different skill levels in so many ways and I believe the key thing is the idea expressed rather than how well the thought is presented online.

            You remind me of the teacher in "Up The Down Staircase" who corrects the love letter sent to him by a smitten student.  When he returns her letter with the grammar and spelling mistakes marked clearly in red pencil, she is destroyed and winds up killing herself.

            Tools are sometimes quite powerful even when used in a less than proper manner.  It depends to some extent, I think, on the person using them.

            • Anonymous says:

              A  very elegant response 14.24. Now my day is ruined, knowing that I reminded you of the use of that  red pencil and its tragic consequences!  We can't escape our up-bringing, especially our manner of speech.  I often employ a simple thought experiment which is to reverse a situation. For example, I will imagine that 'correct' English suddenly becomes some form of patois. Would I ever be able to speak it 'properly,' in conflict with my embedded speech patterns? I know I'd find it easier to learn a new language from scratch. Now, when I listen to others with different speech habits, I accept that for them to make changes would be a hard  task. However, when writing, they can take it slowly and try to get it right, if they want to, that is.

              • Anonymous says:

                Fair enough  🙂  By the way, the young lady in the movie did not kill herself.  She only tried to.  I had to look it up since it was about 40 years ago when I saw the movie and the memory is not quite what it used to be.


          • Anonymous says:

            How patronising.  Not everyone is blessed with the same education you were lucky enough to have, and they shouldn't have to lose their voice (so to speak) here on CNS discussing news topics that affect them, just as much as you or anyone else living here.  Please take your 'tools' to the schools where (in our failing education system) they are needed.


    • Anonymous says:

      "There is nothing left in this country that isn't influenced by some other country or nationality."


      It's the same all over…it's a global world these days.  This is not unique to the Cayman Islands, though most Caymanians seem to think it is.


      "When a country loses it culture then what does it have?"


      It is not really possible to "lose" culture.  One culture may pass away for another.  Preservation is not possible in any real way.  You can create a museum piece out of it, and there's nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to do, but your culture will always consist of the way your people actually live.  I think it's great that children learn about older traditions, but those traditions will never really be theirs, any more than riding a horse to school (as my own grandmother did) will ever be mine.

      • Anonymous says:

        "It's the same all over…it's a global world these days.  This is not unique to the Cayman Islands, though most Caymanians seem to think it is".

        Of course that is not true. Because of our relatively small native population (and yes I am waiting for some idiot to reply asking what a "native" is) the ffect has been overwheeling here. Go to neighbouring Jamaica, for example, and you will find comparatively little foreign influence.   

        • Anonymous says:

          Relatively little foreign influence in Jamaica?  Maybe you should watch this:


          You seem only to be concerned with the superficial niceties of culture.  Dig a little deeper.

        • Anonymous says:

          "Because of our relatively small native population (and yes I am waiting for some idiot to reply asking what a "native" is) the ffect has been overwheeling here."

          Firstly, in places with larger populations it can be argued that there is not one cohesive culture but many smaller cultures at play.  Think of the US, for example.  There is not really one "American" culture, except in a very general way as might be defined by the Constitution. Vermonters are nothing like Texans, for example, and even those states can be subdivided into many smaller subcultures.  Being part of a small population, even when surrounded by vast numbers of different cultures, is not a necessary precursor to the loss of culture.  Many times culture is strengthened by what it perceives as an outside threat.


          Secondly, culture cannot be "lost."  It can forcibly removed, it can be rejected, and it can be traded in for something different.

          I don't think it can be convincingly argued that Caymanians have been forcibly divested of their culture.  

          • Anonymous says:

            I should have added that I think making young people aware of historical traditions is a good thing; however, it makes me uncomfortable when "culture" is defined only as that which happened in the past.  Culture is happening now, too, and it is not all worse (or better) than that which went before.  I also think it is disingenuous to blame "foreigners" or "foreign influence" for degrading one's culture.  Except in cases of force, no one can rob you of anything you feel is worth keeping.  

            Teach Caymanian heritage, by all means.  Anything to retain something unique in the face of globalization and the mass manufacture of goods.  

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is a very good decision Mr Premier, Please extend it to the outer districts as well, and see that the MLA,s have an interest in going ahead with this project, and finding artist and crafters from the district to have a hands on this programme.  Thank you

  12. Anonymous says:

    About freakin time…did Dart have to convince the Premier of this too????  It truly is sad that our young people know more about Jamaica, Trinidad and Honduras Carnival and such and have learned more about the "nasty sex in the streets" that theses people have convinced Caymanians is  dancing, than they know about our own traditions, customs and heritage.  To truly feel you have advanced in life is to know where you have come from.   The unfortunate thing is most of the kids in the shcools here now will be confused because they are not Caymanian but at least they too will learn about our past for a change.  Something sensible and more worthwhile than some of the other plans I have heard of  or read about lately.  Lets see if it happens and how long it lasts!!!  

  13. noname says:

    Surely they would be better served by weekly lessons in tax evasion and money laundering to go along with daily Entitlement classes.



    • Anonymous says:

      That's right – we would have to learn tax evasion and money laundering from the expats. As for Entitlement one need only read the various expat posts on CNS to see that this is not the preserve of Caymanians. Peope believe because they have deigned to move here to improve their economic situation that somehow they are ENTITLED to permanent rights.  

  14. Anonymous says:

    ''the students will learn seafaring & thatch, cuisine & culinary skills as well as traditional games and entertainment''……. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    i must attend one of these…i feel like a good laugh…

  15. Anonymous says:

    wow …teaching kids rope making in the 21st century???? ….god help us all….

    • Anonymous says:

      Back home, I could learn traditional methods of quilting, making molasses or building a log cabin.  It was not career training but a means to communicate history in a real and uniquely revealing way.

      I could also visit certain homes and businesses that had been renovated and refinished in a historical style, which gave me an appreciation of what early pioneers had and did not have and how they were able to adapt and overcome the challenges of their time.

      I can see the value of learning to make thatch rope would go far beyond the activity of making the rope itself.  It would open up opportunities for young people to explore and appreciate much about what has gone on before, giving them a deeper understanding and greater appreciation of the interesting heritage that is theirs.

      It is persons of limited intelligence and vision, such as "Anonymous" at 9:57, that have kept Caymanian history and culture buried in ridicule.  In essence, what people like that are doing is stealing from Caymanian children one thing those children could carry proudly wherever they go in life – their Caymanian heritage.


      • ExPat says:

        Thank you for dignifiying this topic with a constructive comment, unlike all the other disrespectful, patronising expats who are posting here… its truly sickening to read some of these comments.

  16. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    Beautiful photo.  Beautiful children be proud.

  17. Rob I. says:

    I'm really happy about this. When I was in primary school here about 20 years ago, they rathered to teach us about the history of the Aztecs, Incas and Mayas rather than the history of the Cayman Islands… and even back then I wondered why as I didn't see the point.

    Good Decision Mr.Bush.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aztecs, Incas & Mayas?  That's Mexican history.  I went to school here 25 years ago and they were teaching Caribs and Arawaks.  Sure you don't have your Indians mixed up?

  18. Anonymous says:

    We need to look forward, not backward.


    • Anonymous says:

      The reason for learning history and about the past is so that you are aware of what happened to learn not to make the same mistakes twice.


      That is why I believe the history of politics should be taught…..

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with this.  I was taught Government and Economics at High School and sincerely believe similar subjects on the curriculum might give this country a far better chancde by producing individuals who are actually capable of running Cayman and its public purse, unlike the current candidates.

    • Bass Ackwards says:

      You in Cayman now Bo Bo

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, but as a young Caymanian I believe every child has the right to understand where and what they came from. All children in Cayman should be taught to appreciate their heritage and history, and those children like myself who have been raised by "expat" parents in this country should learn to have some RESPECT for the country that has been our home.

      We cannot move forward WITHOUT looking backwards- that would be to progress blindly. What Caymanian children should be taught is to take pride in a people that were traditionally caring and open hearted with a strong sense of independence and what is right- something that is NOT enforced now a days. Instead, we young are left with examples like yourself who cannot even find the relevance in learning to appreciate one's self. Instead you scream that we should move forward. Why? I assume due to the faults of the (especially recent) past. Many of the problems in today's world are due to the fact that people forget their past, forget what was sarificed and the mistakes made to get to where they are now. They forget the good and are reluctant to fix the bad. We need to be taught our self worth.

      I am staunchly against the UDP government and am horrified to see what is happening in Cayman now, but we know that we were not always this way. We have seen better days as a community.