Dominica's Cultural Icon Dr. Alwyn Bully Dies at 74

ROSEAU, Dominica – Dominica’s cultural icon, Dr. Alwyn Bully died on Friday following a prolong illness, the state-owned DBS radio has confirmed. He was 74.

bullyAAlwyn Bully (File Photo)The artist, playwright, short story writer and cultural administrator had earlier disclosed that he was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

Former chief cultural officer, Raymond Lawrence, said the death of Bully  “is a huge loss to Dominica and the region”.

He was resident in Jamaica for over 20 years, where he worked as UNESCO’s Caribbean Culture Advisor in which capacity he managed the production of a six-volume History of Caribbean and inter-acted with Cultural Departments in all of CARICOM countries, assisting them in developing programs and policies.

Bully was also chairman of The CARIFESTA Interim Festival Directorate – a regional Advisory Body to CARIFESTA that reviewed the Caribbean Festival of Arts with a view to enhancing the festival and increasing its visibility internationally.

On his return to Dominica in 2008, he was appointed Cultural Advisor to the Minister of Culture, a post he held for two years.

Bully, who was also a former secondary school principal, was the designer of the island’s National Flag, established Dominica’s Cultural Division and was the island’s first Chief Cultural Officer and the pioneer of the annual Nature Island Literary Festival.

For his exemplary commitment and contribution to culture in Dominica and the Caribbean, the University of the West Indies (UWI) awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2011, recognizing him as one of the region’s finest cultural icons.

The founder of the People’s Action Theater (PAT) had a wide appreciation for arts and culture from all over the world and will also be remembered for “Ruler” a theatrical adaptation of “Ruler in Hiroona”, as well as for producing Errol John’s “Moon on a Rainbow Shawl”.

Bully has written ten full-length plays, four radio serials, numerous short stories and four screenplays.

One of his screenplays Oseyi and the Masqueraders was selected to be produced by The Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA) of New York and was shot in Dominica in 2017.

The film premiered at the 2018 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) and was up for the People’s Choice Award. It is to be premiered in Dominica towards the end of the year. His radio play “A Dance in the Dark” was selected for broadcast by the BBC in 1980.

His early comedy, “Good Morning Miss Millie” (1968), was published by Penguin Books and Macmillan Caribbean and one of its speeches appeared in Actors’ Audition Speeches edited by Jean Marlow for A&C Black/Heineman.

He has won several awards for his theatre work from the International Theatre Institute (Jamaica Centre) as well as a Golden Drum Award from the National Cultural Council 1997; The University of Technology’s 2006 Arts Award; A Life-time Achievement Cacique Award from The National Drama Association of Trinidad and Tobago 2007.

He also received The Sisserou Award of Honor from the Dominica government.

Bully told the Sun newspaper here a few years ago that the foundation for his life was set in King George V Street, in the capital Roseau where he was born and raised and in Giraudel where he spent school holidays.

“I think the location of our house has a lot to do with who I am today. We lived on King George V Street. . . one of the main streets in Roseau…Carnival was a major part of our life in those days.

“There was no Independence celebration. . . so Carnival was the highlight of street parades and people getting together. . . the whole riot of color and ideas and tradition-which is Carnival was integral to my upbringing.

“Our house was like an open house. People would come for drinks and would see people totally disguised,” he said, recalling how heavily disguised masqueraders drinking from funnels to avoid removing their masks.

Bully is survived by his wife, Anita, and two children. One of his children died a few years ago.