The Trinidad and Tobago Consulate in New York was transformed into a virtual palais as members of the Orisa and Shouter faith, backed by drummers, ignited the packed audience. The occasion was Black History Month celebration, the first of its kind at the downtown Manhattan consular offices. In her opening remarks, consul General Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam stressed the importance of culture in the lives of people the world over. She lamented the cultural disconnect by many of the nation's youths, and beckoned them to re-examine their rich cultural heritage and the people who have excelled in every field despite struggles and obstacles. "Too many of our youths are without positive mentors and even heroes and we feel that celebrating the great persons in our past and present will offer a point of reference," she noted. She identified the unparalleled contribution of Dr Eric Williams, ANR Robinson, CLR James, Rudolph Charles, Boscoe Holder, Len Boogsie Sharpe, Giselle La Ronde, Janelle Commissiong, Hasley Crawford and a host of others prominent Afro-Trinidadians. She also made mention of the distinctly Afro-centric faiths that make up the twin island's religious mosaic, and the contribution of the community to the unique island cuisine.
Her address was followed by a historical presentation by Mobutu Sekou, and a performance by Ifa priest, Mahaba Olufemi, whose rivetting poetry reading, against the backdrop of light drumming, set the tone for an explosive cultural fanfare. The event also featured dancer Lichelle Joseph, and a compelling drumming exhibition by Earl Noel and friends. The evening event was well attended and attracted leaders of the Indo-Trinidadian community, including Imam Ahmed Ali, Gopaul Lall of the East Indian Musical Academy, and Deepak Raman of the Arya Spiritual Centre. Black History Month which began in 1976, celebrates the accomplishments of the African Diaspora and is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Consul General Nan Rudrawatee pledged its yearly observance at the Consulate. "We only tested the waters," she said, referring to the inaugural event, "but by the look of things, we may have to get a bigger venue next year."
Dr Glenville Ashby
New York correspondent