As Emancipation Day celebrations climaxed on Wednesday, the Lidj Yasu Omowale Village, at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, overflowed with talent and culture. Earlier, throngs of celebrants participating in the Kambule procession left the Treasury Building on the Brian Lara Promenade bound for the Village dressed in African wear complete with turbans, headties and flowers. Drummers accompanied the procession. The rains came down at around 10 am but did not deter most from continuing along the route. Taking part were Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Nigerian President Dr Goodluck Jonathan and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. Sporting blue African garb, Asha Kambon, wife of Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee Khafra Kambon (ESC), chaired the proceedings and welcomed the celebrants. At the Savannah, spectators awaiting the arrival of the procession were treated to a Capoeira Senzala demonstration by Leon Carmichael and his troupe. They were followed by traditional mas characters, then bois men from the Stickfighting Academy of T&T displayed their fighting prowess.
Also providing entertainment were drummers from the St James Cultural Performers and young dancers from the coastal village of Salybia executed their moves to the delight of the crowd. Offstage, Cultural ambassador extraordinaire Norvan Fullerton and ace Earl Brooks savoured the cultural programme. Sharing his sentiments on Kambule, Fullerton, artistic director of the Malick Folk Performers, said: “It could have been a bit better organised. They took a long time to get to the Village.” Vendor Toola Jacob echoed Fullerton’s sentiments. He had laid out his calabash gourds and drums carved from the Brazilian nut tree under the gigantic cannon ball tree. Jacob said: “I find more could have been done. It could have been better organised. Everywhere should be buzzing with drumology. There should be some good drumology while we are waiting for the procession.”
Edible delights at the village
Apart from a revue, celebrants were treated to a smorgasbord ranging from ground provisions, beef pepperpot, stewed chicken, callaloo, chicken foot souse and bake-and-shark. Dessert consisted of local confectionery like tambran balls and preservatives like red mango. Mango chow vendors enjoyed brisk sales at $6 per bag. Snow cone and cotton candy vendors also did a thriving trade. Admitting he was getting a lot of picong, vendor Stephen Williams said: “I don’t even know Stephen Williams (Acting Police Commissioner) but I don’t mind the salutes I get when I introduce myself.”
Khafra Kambon comments:
Surveying the Village, Kambon felt there was “a good start this morning.” He thanked Persad-Bissessar and her Cabinet ministers for joining in the annual event. Zeroing on the issue of funding for the celebrations, he said: “The question of funding for next year must be settled this year. A lot of things have kept changing. The Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism (Lincoln Douglas) and the PM agreed we should meet after Carnival and resolve the problem. We are not going to wait until the eve of Emancipation. “This is not acceptable for something as important as an Emancipation festival. It takes a tremendous amount of planning and a lot of money to execute this. We can’t do everything when we get the money at the last minute.” For 2012, government contributed $4 million to Emancipation celebrations.