BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – CONFIDENT in knowing that he had and continues to make meaningful contributions to the cultural development in St. Kitts and Nevis over the years, well-known Cultural Preservationist Winton ‘Zack’ Nisbett finds it “unfair” that he has never been invited to serve on the National Carnival Committee.
Nisbett is the keeper of the Edgar Challenger International House Museum and Library on Central Street, Basseterre.
In 2007, he was the first ever nominated and selected individual for the FirstCaribbean Bank’s Unsung Hero Programme and was given a monetary award of US$5 000 to assist in his work as a cultural preservationist.
And in 2011 he was presented a Medal of Honour for Culture at that year’s National Honour Awards Ceremony.
Also, Nisbett was part of a cultural delegation that represented St. Kitts and Nevis in the first CARIFESTA held in Guyana back in 1972.
He is currently the coordinator of the Zack’s Youth International String Band.
Over the years, for the Sugar Mas (National Carnival) festivity, Nisbett makes and sells hunters and whips that are used by folklores troupes including the Mansion Bull and Clown. He also makes clown hats.
This media house recently had an exclusive chit chat with De Doctor of Culture, as he is popularly known.
“My role in Carnival is surely an important role and I believe having me as an advisor to the Carnival Committee would not only benefit St. Kitts, but it will benefit the entire twin-island Federation and the wider Caribbean.
“My thing is that I believe that it is unfair when you have someone of my stature within the community in terms of a cultural perspective, who has the theoretical and the practical aspect of the whole thing and being sidelined. I think it is an insult to St. Kitts. Regardless of the circumstances, I believe that I should have been as an advisor to the Committee and also to play an important role in the development, especially within the Children’s Carnival because that to me was a dismal failure. And that is because we are still trying to put people because of their position within the society…they try to look to those people to put in charge and it is failing us.”
When asked if he has ever indicated to the Carnival Committee that he wants to be a part of the team, Nisbett said, “I don’t have to. I believe my status can prove…when you look at me being rewarded the Medal of Honour.”
In Nisbett’s opinion, to serve on the National Carnival Committee, members must have the commitment, inspiration, zest and the will to get the job done.
“What we are doing is not for us; it’s for the visitors who come to our shores for them to see what we have to offer. And there’s no other person in the community to give that assurance but myself,” Nisbett added.
Additionally, he lashed out against the alleged biased selection of Committee members.
“Too many square pegs in round holes when it comes to our Carnival heritage, and that is the problem. It’s time they stop have it politicised and deal with the real people and come to reality, because having me there is a plus to the community and it’s a plus to the development of our cultural heritage.”
Nisbett pointed out that he has never been given complimentary tickets to attend Carnival events or the annual St. Kitts Music Festival.
He recalled his last time having a clown troupe ‘On the Road’ for Carnival, which was some five years ago, following a fallout with the National Carnival Committee for unpaid participation fee which he thinks the Committee “should have settled”.
The Committee claimed that Nisbett did not register; a statement which Nisbett said is untrue, noting that the Committee “deliberately” said so.
He added, “Somebody of my stature…I don’t believe I deserve that kind of treatment. I believe I deserve better.
“I believe that I have done enough over the years in our cultural development and have been successful. I think that it is only fair that they incorporate me. Having abandoned me, I think it is a slap in the face for St. Kitts and they entire world.”