Kittitian Dr. Caryl Phillips receives the 2013 laureate for Arts and Letters at Saturday’s Anthony N. Sabga 2013 Caribbean Awards

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 24TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Kittitian Dr. Caryl Phillips, the 2013 laureate for Arts and Letters at this year’s Anthony N. Sabga 2013 Caribbean Awards said literature was a good counterbalance for the corruption of sensibilities that comes from the prevalent use of social media.

Speaking after he received his award at a ceremony hosted by the ANSA McAL Foundation at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday, Mr. Phillips pointed out that many may wonder at the practical use of literature in today’s world.

“How do the Arts help us to pave roads, build schools and hospitals, maintain employment, extend our tourist infrastructure, or in more general terms develop our economies and societies in particular?” he asked the audience.

He said literature tells us who we are and serves a moral purpose. “In our world today,” he said, “Facebook, Twitter and a whole roster of social media encourage a terrible narcissistic nave-gazing and a real re-entrenchment of the kingdom of me and I.

“We need something which counterbalances this narrowing of our visions and this corruption of language. I believe that literature, in particular, and the Arts in general serve this purpose,” said Phillips, one of four recipients.

Living Waters Community founder Rhonda Maingot says some of her $500,000 winnings will go towards a project in St Lucia.

Maingot informed the audience that a portion of her winning will go towards funding a mission the Community has in the town of Soufriere, which she said was “plagued with addicts, homeless, adult and children illiteracy and poverty that you would not like to see.”

Maingot received her award for Public and Civic Contributions. The other recipients were joint laureates Prof Anslem Hennis (Barbados) and Prof Dave Chadee (T&T) for Science and Technology.

Prof Chadee, Trinidadian entomologist and parasitologist, lamented that while he has developed strategies that are employed in countries in other parts of the world, here in T&T his work is not recognised.

“I have developed a strategy to break dengue within a week, but it is not applied here in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

Prof Hennis, in his speech, warned that chronic diseases were on the rise in the Caribbean. “Our burden of the chronic diseases in the Caribbean, namely cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory illness and cancer, is enormous and rising,” he said.

And citing Barbadian Prime Minister Davis Thompson, he said if left to chance all the gains achieved in the Caribbean during the march from poverty to relative affluence since independence can be wiped out. The awards have been in existence since 2006.

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