Thursday, July 25, 2013

Emancipation - A celebration of dignity, power and freedom

Trinidad & Tobago Guardian
Friday, July 26, 2013

African drummers take centre stage on Saturday at Rhythms and Voices of the People, when youth and seniors show their skills from 2 pm at the Queen’s Park Savannah. PHOTO: Edison Boodoosingh

Emancipation celebrations this year will be particularly exciting as a tremendous convergence of anniversaries and historical milestones will be observed.

This year marks the 21st year of existence for the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) which continues to host the commemoration of emancipation.

The English-speaking Caribbean will be observing the 175th anniversary of emancipation, while those from the Dutch-speaking Caribbean will be observing their 150th anniversary. The ESC will also be observing the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the Caribbean’s famous sons, Martinique’s Aime Cesaire.

Art, culture, entertainment, spirituality and business all have their place in the Emancipation festival. International guests and world class artistes will feature prominently in the celebrations.

Emancipation celebrations have grown in preeminence over the years and it is now an internationally recognised festival drawing people from all walks of life including heads of state, business leaders and award-winning performers. This year’s celebrations will feature well-loved annual events alongside some new activities.

Emancipation celebrations will run from today to August 1 at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. Some of the highlights of this year’s events are:

Opening Night

The talented performers of the KanKouran West African Dance Company under the world-renowned artistic director Assane Konte will take the stage tonight and songs and dance of the African tradition will take the forefront.

KanKouran was formed in 1983 in Washington, DC, by Konte and former director of music Abdou Kounta. They grew up together in Dakar, Senegal. After many months of recruiting, training and performing at local venues, the company presented its first full-length concert, “A Visit to Africa” in 1985. And with that performance, an institution was born.

“We are so excited about coming to Trinidad next week; we are bringing our best dancers and drummers.

We also have a Kora player with us. I promise, we will deliver a very dynamic and high energy performance in honour of Trinidad and Tobago’s Emancipation Festival,” Konte said.

This engagement is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W Mellon Foundation.

Also performing on that night will be SuperBlue, this year’s national Road March champion and joint International Soca Monarch, Freetown Collective and Mavis John who will be accompanied by the talented Ming and Friends. Earl Brooks will add to the mix with his repertoire on the tenor pan.

The show is truly representative and appreciative of our African heritage and it’s a must see. Tickets are available at $200 for special reserve and $100 for general admission.

Rhythms and Voices of the People/ Conscious Vibrations

On Saturday two exciting events will showcase the best of African culture. Rhythms and Voices of the People, starting at 2 pm, will feature among others, Baba and Modupe Onilu, sons of the late great percussionist and musician, Jah Jah Onilu. Performances from our talented youth including Second Freeport Sea Scouts, Nelson Street Boys RC and the St James Police Youth Club, make this a concert for the entire family to enjoy.

Later at 8 pm cultural legends will grace the stage at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village for Conscious Vibrations. Shadow and Stalin—two of calypso’s greatest performers—will headline a show that includes some exceptional younger talent including Duane O’Connor, Karene Asche and Kizzy Ruiz.

Both shows on Saturday are free to the general public.

Food Festival/Youth Day

Sunday in the Emancipation Village the youth will take over. Youth Pan Day and Youth Unity Concert are free to the public. The youth pannists will celebrate SuperBlue’s music.

It is also Food Festival day—a popular attraction where epicurean delights of Africa and the Caribbean will be available. Nigerian delights will take centre stage.
Ancestral Showcase

The unique culture and traditions passed on by our African forebears will be the focus of Ancestral Showcase on Monday at 7pm. This event will feature limbo, stick fighting, bongo and tamboo bamboo from the best local performing troupes. Admission is free.

Coming out of the Shadow: Pan Night

Pan Night is a much anticipated event of the Emancipation festival. Admission is free on Tuesday for performances by Petrotrin Phase II, Deperadoes and BpTT Renegades among many others. Showtime is 7 pm.

Pan African Spectakula

Emancipation festivities are known for exposing Trinidad and Tobagonians to a variety of top-billed performers from across the world—and this year will be no different. The best of Africa and Trinidad and Tobago will meet for the Pan-African Spectakula concert on Wednesday 31 at 8 pm.

Grammy-Award winner Angelique Kidjo will headline what promises to be a unique and thrilling concert. This singer-songwriter and human rights activist from the West African country of Benin, is ‘noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos.’

Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva.” Kidjo has also been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002, travelling to many countries in Africa where she works to promote the rights of women and children.

“This is not my first trip to the Caribbean but it is my first trip to Trinidad. I am very much looking forward to my visit, and performing for the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Kidjo said.

Joining Kidjo will be Nigerian pop sensation and award-winning artiste 2face Idibia. Idibia hails from the Idoma ethnic group in the southern part of Benue State, in central Nigeria. As a pop singer/song writer/label executive, he has collaborated with the likes of Mary J Blige, Wyclef Jean, Beenie Man and many other international music stars. Among his many accolades, in 2011 he won the BET award for Best International Act.

Other performers will be local sensations the Wasafoli dance troupe, Jeunes Agape, Singing Sandra and Shurwayne Winchester and You. Tickets are priced at TT$500, $300 and $200, respectively.

Emancipation Film Festival

Apart from the top-billed entertainment, the village will add a daily film designed to educate as well as entertain visitors. This is a new event to the festival, adding even more dimension to what is already a fun-filled and jam-packed calendar. Admission is free and shows will take place at the Grand Stand, with three screenings at noon, 2 and 5 pm. Details of films are available at the ESC information booth.

The Business of Emancipation

One of the core objectives of the ESC is to strengthen trade and economic ties with the African diaspora and the African continent. As such, this year’s Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Symposium will feature a Nigerian trade mission and business summit titled Focus on Nigeria-Trade show and Summit.

Leading the Nigerian delegation will be Honourable Edem Duke, Nigeria’s Minister of Culture and Tourism. He brings with him a powerful group from the private and public sector, including the president of the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture, CEO of Nigeria Export Import Bank, Roberts Orya. Also, Osun State private and public sector representatives led by the Executive Governor of the State, His Excellency, Rauf Aregbesola, who will zero in on opportunities for investment in priority sectors of his state; and Compass Consultants, led by CEO Tokunbo Chiedu.

The symposium take place on Wednesday at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, in collaboration with the Ministry Trade, Industry and Investment. The cost of attendance is US$200 or TT$1200.

Travel Professionals of Colour Conference and Heritage Tourism Summit

Growing awareness and appreciation for Trinidad’s Emancipation celebrations have attracted or the first time ever the annual conference of the Travel Professionals of Colour (TPOC) from July 29 to August 5.

After a successful visit to the celebrations last year by TPOC executives a decision was made to host the event here to expose US travel agents to this dynamic festival as well as the many other sites and attractions of this country that make it a magnet for heritage tourism. The conference will meet for three days and in collaboration with the ESC, conferees will participate in Emancipation Celebration on August 1.

Attendees to the Heritage Tourism Summit will not only learn about heritage tourism attraction, multi-cultural travellers and the “new black travel dollar,” but will also be presented with copies of a new publication—Trinidad and Tobago’s African Heritage Sites. The book seeks to ensure that visiting travel agents have a document which provides them with historical, factual reference material for the formulation of tour packages.

The book, a first for the tourism industry in this country and in the region, has been produced in preparation for the TPOC conference. It was researched and written by historian, poet, playwright and one of our national awardees for culture, Eintou Pearl Springer. The publication is a work of art, with photography, site facts and soul-stirring poetry interspersed through-out.

Emancipation Day

The celebrations with song, dance and Emancipation festivities will reach its climax on August 1 when the ancestors are honoured with the drum call and commemoration of the Emancipation proclamation at 5 am.

A procession through the streets of Port-of-Spain to the Emancipation Village begins at 8 am from Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, followed by a concert from 1 pm.

The Flambeau procession at 7 pm from the Savannah and via Belmont will end at the historic site of the All Stars panyard on Duke Street.

The curtain will come down on the event with the closing of the Village at 10 pm.
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