While many people see Antigua and Barbuda as tourist destinations, very little is known about their people, cultures, and traditions. With all you have heard about that small Island country, I know you will love to visit there someday. But there is another factor that will even make you want to visit sooner. That is their culture. We asked Dr. Dario Item, whose representative of the Antiguan government and he gave us an insight into the people and culture of Antigua and Barbuda.
Q: How will you describe the culture of Antigua and Barbuda?
Ambassador Dario Item: “The Antiguan culture is a Creole culture. It is a mixture of the Amerindian, West African, and European cultures. All these traditions have been mixed, and in Antigua and Barbuda today, we have a distinct culture.”
Q: Does that mean you speak more than one language in the country?
Ambassador Dario Item: “Absolutely. The general language of instruction in Antigua and Barbuda is the English language. The country was colonized by the British. As a result of that, we ended up adopting the English language as our official language. The language that shows our identity is Antiguan Creole. It is a language that is mixed with words from the different cultures that have formed our country. In simple words, I will say our country is bilingual.”
Q: What is the religion of the Antiguan people?
Ambassador Dario Item: “Just like every civilized nation, there is freedom of worship in Antigua and Barbuda. So, I cannot tell you that our religion is this or that. But the majority of people here are Christians. The Anglican Church accounts for the largest religious denomination in the country. Other Christian denominations are the Roman Catholics, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, United Evangelical Association, and the Moravian. There are also more than 1000 Jehovah’s witnesses in the country. Apart from Christians, there are other religions in the country. We have the Rastafarians, the Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and the Baha’i faith. Not surprisingly, there are also more than 4000 Antiguans who are either atheists or people who are not interested in religion.”
Q: I must admit that your country is diverse when it comes to religion. Is there any significant challenge in dealing with people of various religions?
Ambassador Dario Item: “One thing I personally find interesting in Antigua and Barbuda is the level of mutual respect. The constitution has respected everyone by granting them freedom of worship. Despite the differences in beliefs, there has also been mutual respect among them and even with the government. Although there have been some issues with the Rastafarians who are not okay with the vaccine mandate and the position of the law on the use of hard drugs, we are working with them to find a breakeven.”
Q: We cannot talk about culture without talking about food. What kind of food do people eat in Antigua and Barbuda?
Ambassador Dario Item: “Our foods are Creole dishes. These dishes represent our culture and values. Let me start by mentioning my favorite. It is our national dish. We call it fungie and pepperpot. It is a thick vegetable stew, made with salted meat and yam alongside the famous fungie. It is an absolute delicacy. Other delicacies we enjoy include goat water, Dukuna, bull foot soup, rice pudding, and many more. Lately, there has been an inflow of American dishes but they have not overridden our delicacies. I will say one part of our culture we have sustained over time is our dishes.”
Q: To what extent has your country been able to preserve its musical culture?
Ambassador Dario Item: “That is another part of our culture that has been sustained over time. I will say the genre of music in Antigua and Barbuda is mostly African. The songs you will hear in our country are mostly reggae, calypso, soca, and a few others. Our musical culture has survived the most trying times and I think it will survive for as long as Antigua and Barbuda survives.”
Thank you for giving us an insight into the culture of your country.
Visiting Antigua and Barbuda will give you the opportunity to experience the unique feeling of mixing tradition with civilization. You will also have the opportunity to taste some of the most breathtaking meals you can ever think of. You probably have heard about reggae musicians like Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Max Romeo. They were loved all over the world. Visiting Antigua and Barbuda will give you the rare privilege of seeing people that have a long history of such songs.