On Saturday, April 8, 2023, I attended the Island SPACE Museum Grand Re-opening VIP Reception at the Broward Mall in Plantation, FL. They were previously in a smaller space at the same location. I performed CariDad Bahamian Warrior Women in that space last year and I can attest to the fact that this move was necessary! The new space is beautiful and large enough to house the wonderful artifacts that call the museum home.
“Island SPACE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and advancement of arts, culture, history, and educational initiatives that represent the Caribbean region, in South Florida and the broader diaspora community” (https://islandspacefl.org/about). This is the “only Caribbean museum in the country” (Lasana Smith 2023) and offers representation from many Caribbean (Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone) countries. Jamaican nationals Calibe Thompson, President and David Muir, Past President are at the helm of this amazing organization.
The event was well attended and included patrons of Caribbean culture, local celebrities, business leaders, and entrepreneurs such as Trinidadian-American Neki Mohan, Vice President of Multicultural Business and Community Engagement for Broward County’s Tourism Agency, Visit Lauderdale and Jamaican Commissioner Winston Barnes, the News Director at WAVS 1170 AM Radio in Fort Lauderdale who cohosted the event with Lasana Smith of Garoi Media. Dr. Solanges Vivens of Haitian royalty who is recognized as a “visionary business leader,” healthcare entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author offered words of support for Calibe to the attentive audience. I had wonderful conversations with several members of the Bahamian Tourism Board (boop boop!) and premier culinary artist Hugh Sinclair (aka Chef Irie) made his rounds minglin’ wit di people dem.
In terms of Island cuisine, culture, and libations, Barbados offered a wonderful rum punch. Two women dressed for Crop Over with their beautiful colorful costumes passed out souvenirs—fans with Barbados printed on them. They informed us of the upcoming Food and Rum Festival October 19-22, 2023 (who comin’ wit me?). Coffee was provided by David Levy of Xaymaca Coffee Traders, and I observed many patrons enjoying ice cream by Mr. Flavors. There was a Daytime table by the Jamaica Tourist Board and “Queen” Maxine Osbourne read a story in the thickest Jamaican patois and performed with full bodied expressions. When she ended her monologue, the music started, and she shuffled her feet to the center of the floor performing traditional Jamaican Kumina. Her costume was emblematic of the culture, she was dressed for the role. “Queen” invited everyone to “dance for the spirits, dance for your ancestors and it no mean duppy and it no mean nuttin’ bad, ya mudda, ya fadda, and your grandparents, the people who gone on.” There is so much to unpack there! The DJ played music from all over the Caribbean diaspora keepin’ di vibes nice. The energy was high, the laughter was rich and genuine, but mostly I was captivated with the melodious orchestra of accents and dialects.
The current exhibits were “Earth, Water, and Skin: Caribbean Women in Art” which features three female artists: Michelle Drummond (Jamaica), Sonya Sanchez Arias (Trinidad and Tobago), and Krystal Sabdul (Jamaica)—they present “multimedia fine art work based on the theme of social justice” (islandspacefl.org/events). The second exhibit is “Caribbean Sheroes” which showcases “women warriors for social justice, the exhibition …honor[s] the stories of 14 inspirational changemakers from South Florida and the Caribbean (I didn’t see CariDad Bahamian Warrior Woman on the wall but OK!!).
The museum offers literature, images, and artifacts in the areas of Media, Technology and Education; Music; Folklore and Pastimes; Costumes; Uniforms; Religion; Sports; Economy; National Influencers; Florida’s Caribbean Influencers; and so much more! Of course, there are some nations that are not represented but they are addressing these gaps. If you have artifacts that you think should be included in the museum, please call (954-999-0989).
Dr. Solanges Vivens stated (I am summarizing) that when you sow into someone else’s vision, your blessing to support your vision comes back to you tomorrow. This resonated with me immensely and I immediately sowed a seed into Island SPACE Caribbean Museum. I implore you to check out the website (https://islandspacefl.org) to see all the offerings, membership options, and the ways to give in order to support this phenomenal project.
Image 1: Bahamian Junkanoo Costume
Image 2: Dancehall Artist Spice Costume
Image 3: Paul Campbell
Image 4: Michelle Drummond
Image 5: Sonya Sanchez Arias
Image 6: Invited Guests
Image 7: Queen” Maxine Osbourne
Image 8: Calibe Thompson, Executive Director
Image 9: Dr. Solanges Vivens