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ESC chairman tells T&T: Discard chains of slavery *LINK*

ESC chairman tells T&T: Discard chains of slavery

Drums thumped, voices echoed and dancing feet stamped the earth on Wednesday night, as Emancipation Day celebrations kicked off at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village at Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain.

Emancipation Support Committee chairman Khafra Kambon, who addressed the audience, advised T&T to discard the chains of slavery and discover its broken connection with Africa.

He described the last 167 years since emancipation as years of relative freedom.

Kambon said there would never be a day of complete freedom, as when one form of oppression was defeated another came to the fore.

Minister of Community Development and Culture Joan Yuille-Williams shared Kambon’s view.

She said some form of prejudice and equality remained, and that avoiding psychological enslavement was the new challenge.

The evening was far from being one of talk, as both local youth choir Jeunes Agape and Harlem-based dance company Batoto Yetu glorified the African continent in song and dance.

Under the direction of Lois Lewis, Jeunes Agape masterfully covered a series of freedom songs.

The group sang Ella Andall’s Hello Africa and Missing Generation. While their voices soared, their dance steps were equally impressive.

Wearing white robes with green and yellow patterns, the choir skipped along to their own singing. They also performed Mama Africa, one of Lewis’ own compositions.

After Jeunes Agape, Batoto Yetu took over the stage.

The dance company featured mainly children who performed the Birth of Nzinga.

The story focused on the exploits of Ngola Nzinga Mbandi, a 16th-century warrior queen who fought against the Portuguese to liberate the Ndongo and Matamba peoples in south-western Africa.

Displaying excellent agility and timing, the young dancers sprinted across the stage in leopard, cheetah and gazelle costumes.

The dancers were in full control of their bodies, balancing on one foot, then breaking into feverish routines in mere seconds.

When dressed as warriors, hunters and maidens, the sweat dripped from their bodies as they went through these intricate dance steps.

One young Batoto Yetu dancer imitates the actions of a gazelle on Wednesday night at the grand opening of the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

The Birth of Nzinga also explored the changing African landscape at the time when the role of missionaries and the slave trade was examined.

Batoto Yetu’s Angolan founder and choreographer, Julio Leitao, told the audience: “We have to ensure the spirit of Nzinga is still alive... We have to look at the wrongs of history and correct it.”

Backed by three skilled drummers, the audience was invited to join in on the performance by not only clapping, but singing as well.

When the group finished their set, they received a standing ovation.

Rapso group 3Canal and drum ensemble Hands of Rhythm also performed.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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