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A young boy marches on Independence Street during the National Dress Parade
A young boy marches on Independence Street during the National Dress Parade

There will be no Schools' Parade, no Military Parade, no Sashing of a Cultural Elder, no usual Cultural Gala, no National Parade, no Heritage Day, no Sports Finals, no festivals.

Thanks, COVID-19, you have practically killed Dominica's 2020 Independence programme. But not completely.

"Dominicans can catch a party spirit very quickly," said a culture enthusiast who spoke anonymously to candidly discuss the 2020 independence programme. "But I think COVID will affect the celebrations".

On November 3rd 2020 Dominica will be celebrating its 42nd anniversary of political independence and many of the activities normally associated with that month-long celebration have been shelved because of COVID-19. The official opening of independence will be held on October 10, 2020 but virtually.

The theme this year is: "Embracing New Opportunities".

Chief Cultural Officer Raymond Lawrence said the theme is meant to be "forward looking and dynamic" and at the same time assessing the present and taking the opportunities while pressing on as a nation.

Lawrence said the Chapo Pai (straw hat) will be reintroduced this year.

"We will have 'Market Day with a Difference', but we will be having no Wob Dwiyet, no schools' parade and no military parade. The Prime Minister will give his Independence Day address on the morning of November 3, 2020 and also those receiving awards will be done virtually," Lawrence said.

"Because of the COVID-19 situation and the guidelines as outlined by the Ministry of Health, a number of the independence activities will not be held like the Creole Dress Parade involving the school children will not be held," he added. Lawrence said that despite the shortened programme, he expects everyone to take part and he is urging the media to use every available opportunity to highlight the events.

"We will not be having the usual independence village activities, but like every other thing we want to make whatever we do very grand…so persons can rest assured that it will be something great," he said.

"There will be a tree planting beatification programme also taking place and we will have, on November 4, the usual clearing up and voluntary work. Also we will have a cultural gala which will be virtually held and also be live on Facebook and the radio stations".

The 2020 independence programme also includes "Dominica History Week from Monday 12 October; Heritage Week from Sunday 25th October; Creole Day (Jounen Kweyol) and Had Kweyol (creole wear) on Friday 9th October.

"I do not believe COVID has completely killed the independence celebrations," the culture enthusiast said. "My sense is most people want to celebrate something; it could be in defiance but there will be house parties, there will be people trying to do something on a beach, or even in the road. Dominicans like to celebrate their country whatever they perceive it to be."