Emancipation 2006: Sheboka – The Gathering

Emancipation Celebrations

TriniView.com Staff Article

The opening night of the Lidj Yasu Omowale Village was held at the Jean Pierre Complex on Thursday, 24th July, 2006, and was spared the torrential showers experienced earlier that day. Although the turnout was affected by the rainy weather, many people still showed up to welcome in the auspicious occasion of Emancipation.

The celebrations began with a rendition of the National Anthem of Trinidad and Tobago played on the steelpan by the National Steel Orchestra. Following this was an invocation and the ritualistic practice of the pouring of libation by Brother Equino Moyo. He invited the gods and ancestors to be present during the night’s activities and to bless and assist in the task of uniting the Global African Community.

The welcoming address was given by the Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee, Khafra Kambon who greeted the dignitaries present including the Minister of Culture Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Senator the Honourable Joan Yuille-Williams, the High Commissioners present and Mr. Winston Dookeran, the leader of the Opposition party, the United National Congress.

On behalf of the African Union, Brother Jinmi Adisa bestowed greetings to members in the audience and the entire African Community of Trinidad and Tobago and expressed great joy to be in the country. He explained that the bond that connects the African continent to the rest of the African Diaspora was quite vivid and strong as is evidenced by the cultural retentions in existence.

The feature address was given by the Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Senator the Honourable Joan Yuille-Williams who spoke about the success of the Emancipation celebrations which continues to grow year after year.

She also spoke about the important role of Yasu Omowale who was the first to institute the annual Emancipation celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago and had personally been involved in the organization of these celebrations for a decade.

Again there was another performance by the National Steel Orchestra which demonstrated the success of African people in maintaining and reshaping musical sounds in order to retain their culture even after the British had banned drum beating in the 1880’s.

The Signal Hill Alumni Choir all dressed in blue, then provided their harmonious voices to the festivities singing a variety of African and African inspired songs to commemorate the occasion.

Subsequently was a surprise presentation by Tambori Primero, a Venezuelan band fusing elements of Spanish and African musical traditions. Such musical fusion emphasized that African culture is strong and firmly rooted in the Diaspora.

After the intermission, members of the audience were presently surprised with the arrival of the Garifuna International Band who had given the audience a taste of the music coming out of Honduras which the audience lapped up and begged for more. Evident in the Punta music from Honduras were traces of Salsa, Calypso, Soca, Zouk and other African Caribbean and Latin American sounds.

Following the exuberant sounds of the Garifuna Band, was the equally entertaining sounds of Trinidad and Tobago’s very own Hands of Rhythm, who showed those in attendance, particularly the foreign guests, the tremendous talent that Africans in this country have to offer.

Calypso music, which is a very important aspect of our local art form, and another of our various forms of African expression, was also part of the entertainment of the night. The first Calypsonian on board to present his Calypso was Bryan London. The chant, “We walking on freedom road”, was uttered by all in the audience who were touched by his inspiring lyrics.

The lyrical genius, Brother Valentino, came on stage next with songs including the ever-popular, “Stay Up Zimbabwe” and “Birds Fly High.”

The reigning Calypso Monarch, Luta, also graced the stage with songs, “African Drums” and “Kaiso Kaiso”, much to the pleasure of those in attendance.

The last in the line up was the well loved and highly regarded Calypsonian, the legend, Black Stalin. People arose from their seats and joined the Black Stalin in his performances of, “Bun dem” and “Black Feeling to Man Party.”

Despite the few hiccups, the event was successful and would surely be remembered.

Sheboka – The Gathering in pictures