The Bonairian culture can be seen in the faces of her people. They are of very different descent. Descendants of the original slaves, Europeans, South Americans, North Americans, Chinese, Pakistani: More than 60 different nationalities live on Bonaire today.
The original Bonairian culture is rooted in the traditions that go back many generations and are described in the songs and dances that are featured especially during festivals and holidays. In these artforms, the strong family ties and general respect for nature play a major role, as the first inhabitants and slaves were forced to work and live in this hard and hostile natural environment on Bonaire.
Those days of slavery taught people to remain strong and firm in all circumstances. The songs and dances, based on ancient African traditions, have evolved over time and form an important part of Bonairian culture.
The Simidan and Bari dance are best known, but also traditional Wals, Mazurka, Polka and the local “Baile di Sinta” (ribbon dance) are performed, like the Rumba, Carioca and Merengue that came from the other Caribbean islands.
There are several annual recurring festivals where Bonairian culture can be enjoyed. The period from 1-6 January is Maskarada and the Spring harvest festival takes place from late February until the end of April. In the summer months Dia di San Juan and Dia di San Pedro are celebrated, while Bari runs from late October to late December.
Many festivals are regional, although it may seem strange that even on such a small island as Bonaire regional differences exist. There are many minor differences between the different living areas (“barios”). For example, Rincon is famous for the grand celebration of different holidays, while North Salina celebrates the Maskarada. The best example is Dia Di Rincon. Thousands of visitors come from all Antilles Islands to Bonaire to celebrate this.
Today, the cultural tradition is still influenced. So do not be surprised when you hear a Mariachi band, interchanged with a local group on the same stage. Or a piece of Mozart or Vivaldi with an Antilian rhythm.