Unifest: Uniting different cultures
Unifest: Uniting different cultures
By A’Nassya Bruton
On May 19, 2013, Unifest had their annual festival in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.
Unifest is a coalition of cultures and countries that come together in celebration of Caribbean nations.
This event offers businesses and organizations from various islands a chance to support, promote and help their people living in America and back in their homeland.
This function also allows each island to showcase an array of distinct attributes of their cultures such as music, food, dance, and art.
State Representative, Hazel Rogers, who is co-founder of this event, has helped it to flourish for 19 years. She states, “The Caribbean community is growing in South Florida,” and “it is important to showcase the diversity in Broward County.”
Those two statements fueled the fire to the idea of why there was a need for this celebration to begin with.
Islands that were represented at this festival were Jamaica, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Jamaica came out in full force with plenty of booths for people to buy from or delight themselves in a meal or donate and help support some of their many causes.
One of the vendors from Jamaica, Saggi, who has a store just West of Sample Road in Coral Springs called Reggae Things Boutique, sells clothing, music and other goods and believes in the event.
“I have been attending the Unifest for years and that it helps bring in revenue for my business,” Saggi said.
Representing Haiti was the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce, which is an organization that strives to help Haitian business in Broward and West Palm Beach stay open.
For the past year they have been providing free business classes at Strayer University and assistance in helping these businesses get grants from the Government. Some of the business that had their work on display had everything from hand woven bags from Haiti to delicious sauces.
Haiti also showed some of its musical talent with a performance from a Haitian hip-hop rap group called TPO. This of course was Piero and Daniel’s first time at Unifest, but they stated that the event was very good and the one thing they enjoyed the most was being exposed to the different cultures. Their group, TPO, hopes to return next year and perform once again.
As one heads east of the Caribbean one encounters Antigua and Barbuda. The Antigua and Barbuda Association is a non-profit organization that creates various types of pro-grams to raise money for what-ever causes back home.
Trinidad and Tobago appeared with their Consulate General, which provides an extensive amount of services for Trinidadians in America with their several offices all over the east coast.
The Unifest really helps give exposure of these Caribbean businesses and awareness of the prospering cultures.
Speaking with a few locals, they gave insight as to how Unifest could potentially grow stating, “Unifest needs more promotions through minority owned newspapers. Get ads on TV and the radio, and spread the information beyond the people in Lauderdale Lakes.”
State Representative Gwyn Clarke-Reed gave her closing remarks about Unifest stating, “Wonderful event and learning experience. I’ve seen it grow over the past couple of years.” In any instance the Unifest did what it was suppose to do: many islands came out to support one another, spread their culture and promote their businesses.
Summer interim A’Nassya Bruton, is a sophomore at Florida A&M University seeking a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism