Last update: 12-Dec-2013 12:30 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Carifesta confusion over ‘country of Tobago’
The country of “Tobago” was represented at the recent 11th Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) in Suriname, leading to confusion among Carifesta officials and the official T&T contingent, the Sunday Guardian has found out. The Sunday Guardian was told the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) sent its own contingent to Carifesta, which was held between August 16 and 25, and an announcement was made onstage that the group was from “the country of Tobago.”
Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas, who was part of the official T&T contingent, confirmed reports. Saying it was a very “sad” thing, Douglas said, “A contingent did represent Tobago and it was not the first time something like that happened.” Douglas said it was a habit of the THA to send separate contingents to events. Saying the situation created some discrepancies, he said, “Both the Carifesta people and the official contingent were confused.”
He said his ministry frequently received complaints that Tobago was not well-represented in official T&T contingents to cultural events. However, he said, at this year’s Carifesta, Tobagonians made up an important part of the official T&T group. “We tried to include all at the forefront. There were cooks and performers from Tobago in the official T&T contingent.”
Douglas said he intended to speak to Chief Secretary Orville London and Secretary of Culture Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus about the issue. “It is unfortunate that those kinds of things happen, but we have to work through them,” he said.
Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, director of culture at the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, also attended this year’s festival. She said it was common for countries to be represented by an official contingent, as well as unofficial groups. Usually, unofficial groups participated in “fringe” festivals that were not part of the official programme, Ryan-Ruben said. She said, “Carifesta wants to deal with the official contingent.”
However, this year, because of a delay in finalising the programme for the fringe festivals, the official T&T contingent allowed unofficial groups, which included a contingent from the THA, to participate in the official programme. Ryan-Ruben said she was not present on the night when an announcement was allegedly made that a group was from the “country of Tobago.”
“At the end of the day, everybody was included. When we are abroad, everybody represents T&T and we don’t want it to seem as though we are divided.” Efforts to contact London and Tsoiafatt-Angus were unsuccessful.
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