Notting Hill carnival: fraught with risk, but the show goes on

Simone Ramdeen, 20, tries on a headpiece for the Notting Hill carnival at Mahogony in Harlesden, north-west London. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian

Behind the nondescript shutters of a shop unit in Harlesden, north-west London, a small army of creators from the Mahogany mas camp – one of the Notting Hill carnival‘s most flamboyant groups – are busy at work.

Giant scarlet dragons jostle for space with azure lions, while workers mould shapes from piles of lightweight foam, apply sequins to headdresses and hand-paint strips of material. In the back room, sparks fly from a noisy blow torch.

In little more than a week, this mas – or masquerade – camp will dress more than 200 people for the Notting Hill carnival, which participants insist must go on despite the civil unrest that sparked widespread riots and looting in London two weeks ago.

“Carnival absolutely needs to happen this year,” said Clary Salandy, a designer and director at Mahogany mas camp who has been creating costumes since the 1980s. “The Caribbean community needs to rekindle its identity. Carnival is an opportunity to demonstrate that we have a creative culture that England can benefit from.”

Doubts about whether the carnival – a celebration of African-Caribbean culture that brings an estimated one million people on to the streets of west London over the bank holiday weekend – will be held have been raised since riots broke out first in Tottenham on 6 August before spreading across the capital and to other major UK cities.

The event will go ahead, Met police chiefs said this week, but it will close early at 7pm on both evenings. Extra officers, at the carnival and around London, will be on duty.

“We totally encourage the earlier start and finish times of the event this year, given what has recently happened in London,” said the Met in a statement. “The Notting Hill carnival is an important event in the capital’s calendar, and we support it going ahead this year. Troublemakers are not welcome.”

  Carnival this year is an opportunity fraught with risk. If it passes without incident, the police have a chance to reassert their authority, and show that normality has returned to London’s streets. But in the past the event has been seen as a thorn in the authorities’ side and, if there is trouble, some fear it could be the kiss of death.

There is little chance of that, insisted co-director Ancil Barclay who said hundreds of extra volunteers had come forward this year in the wake of the riots. “We have got so much support from people saying we have to keep the spirit of carnival alive – lots of people who have been against carnival in the past are now in favour,” he said.

Taking a brief break in a local west London restaurant, after a meeting that had lasted all day and before another likely to last all night, fellow co-director Chris Boothman agreed. “Londoners are back in control of London,” he said. “If you wanted to cause trouble, this is really not the year – Notting Hill is going to be one of the safest places to be in the city.”

Not holding the event would have a dire impact on London’s image, added Barclay. “This is such an important year, it is a trial for the Olympics in 2012 and a chance to show the world that London is open and ready for business. Can you image the image it gives to potential visitors if it didn’t go ahead?”

Carnival brings in an estimated £97m to London every year and acts as an “escape valve” for the city to let off steam, said Boothman, who, like Barclay, has a full-time job and works unpaid to make carnival happen. This year’s event was a chance for carnival to rediscover the role it played in its early years, when the Caribbean community took to the streets in part as a reaction to race riots in Notting Hill.

“Protest is part of carnival – but it is creative rather than violent. It is a much better way for people to make themselves heard,” he said. “Lots of people see it as a street party, but it is a celebration of Caribbean cultural heritage and art that if we do not foster will die out.”

There have been grumbles from some that the early finish will cause problems – floats will have to start preparing at the crack of dawn, and the magic twilight hours, when costumes shimmer in the newly lit street lights, will be lost. But, for once, there are likely to be few complaints about a beefed-up police presence. “The police will be here to protect people,” said Barclay. “It is an opportunity to repair a relationship that has been damaged.”

This year’s event is also a chance to show the world what London does best, said Dexter Khan, band leader of the Cocoyea mas, who has been involved in the carnival for 44 years. “After what we have seen, this is vital for the community,” he said. “The riots have given a bad impression of London to the whole world, the carnival has to show that London thrives and that we can do these events on a big scale.”

Richard Gallimore, band leader of the Bachanal mas, a relative newcomer to the mas scene, said his camp was going “full-steam” ahead. “Shit happens but we are moving on,” he said. “We are not going to live in fear of these hooligans. Obviously you have to take precautions but we are determined to give a positive image.”

Back in the Mahogany workshop 20-year-old Koya Greenaway-Harvey, who first came here on work experience when she was 14, explains that this year’s carnival has the chance to turn “a negative into a positive”.

Cutting strips of foam, which over the next week with be transformed into a spectacular flight of fancy, she says: “The riots were scary; that’s not the London I know. But carnival is completely different – the music, the people. You just get possessed by the spirit of carnival. It shows that people coming together can be a wonderful thing.”

For the original article: Notting Hill carnival: fraught with risk, but the show goes on | Culture | The Guardian.


Ban on steelbands in Leeds West Indian Carnival parade Central Leeds

DOWN THE PAN: Members of the steelband that won’t be playing at the Leeds West Indian Carnival – from left, Ashley Hendricks, Victoria Jaquiss, Katie Smith and Varshika Patel.

Traditional Caribbean steelband music has been banned from the 44th Leeds West Indian Carnival parade.

The carnival committee of 13 members took the unanimous decision to have no live music in the parade itself at an emergency meeting this week.

Members said due to recent “unrest” in the Chapeltown area they felt they had no option but to make this year’s carnival “a bit calmer” with no steelbands playing on any of the floats.

Chairman Arthur France said: “We are not putting any steelbands on the road in the parade this year. It was a decision taken as we are being extra cautious following recent unrest. In light of violent events, and after careful consideration, we decide that we will not use any steelband on the road, which means no live music.

“We want to keep things a bit calmer. We fear it may cause trouble. It isn’t the noise, we just don’t want any interference on the road.

“We have been placed under a great deal of strain following the national youth uprising and other issues which have been local to our city.”

Music will be provided on a float by DJs and a sound system by Leeds Carnival Committee.

But Victoria Jaquiss, steelpan development officer for Leeds Music Services and band leader of the Foxwood Steel Bandits, The Leeds Silver Doves and Steel Rising, said: “Steelpan should be part of the carnival parade. It is the highlight of the musical year for some members, to play in front of their home crowd. I doubt very much that middle aged women and kids would attract any trouble.

“We performed at Otley Carnival in June and we were at Manchester Carnival last Saturday, following the riots there and it was brilliant atmosphere.”

She said they had been expecting to play at this year’s event and were bitterly disappointed after receiving a call and letter from the committee stating steelbands would not be invited.

Mr France who was founder of the first carnival in Leeds in 1967, one of the first in Europe, said: “At one point last week following an arson attack on carnival headquarters we were not sure whether the carnival would go ahead at all. This was a committee decision, not involving the police, but we have regular meetings with police to keep them updated.”

A steelband from Leeds, New World Steel Symphony Orchestra, will perform on stage in Potternewton Park after the carnival parade is over on Bank Holiday Monday.

Around 15 floats will travel the carnival route through Harehills and Chapeltown and feature people from the city dressed in colourful costumes as well as the carnival Queen, King and princesses.

For original article: Ban on steelbands in Leeds West Indian Carnival parade EXCLUSIVE – Central Leeds – Yorkshire Evening Post.

Dance Music

Clarence Curvan: Living the Love of Dance

Clarence Curvan on drums

His love for dance led Clarence Curvan from dancer to dance band leader. His entry into the world of music performance was unplanned, and may be described as accidental, but it opened the doors to an illustrious career. Following his passion for dancing, a teenage Curvan accompanied his mother and her friends to a party, which featured the Sonny Lewis Orchestra. Feeling out of place among the older crowd, he entertained himself by playing the cowbell along with the band. When he received the princely sum of $1 for his unsolicited night’s effort, he was encouraged to participate in subsequent engagements of the band on the invitation of Lewis, eventually becoming exceedingly proficient on the bongos.

His development as a bongo player sparked the interests of other bandleaders, and he was invited to join the Phil Britto Orchestra.  Part of this band engagement schedule included weekly radio appearances, and many of the arrangements highlighted the bongos. This further enhanced Curvan’s reputation as a player, and he subsequently received an invitation from famed Calypso bandleader, Cyril Diaz, to play on recordings of Slinger Francisco, the Mighty Sparrow. A tour to the French Caribbean Isles afforded him additional opportunity to showcase his skills in a production entitled “Les Bongo Nuits.”

Having acquired this respect and reputation as a percussionist in his teenage years, Curvan jumped at the chance to put together a group of young musicians to fill a performance slot on a local radio station. This led to  the formation of the Clarence Curvan Orchestra. He recalls the circumstances surrounding the band’s birth, and the musicians involved. Among them were Beverly Griffith, who played the piano and served as the band musical arranger, Stan Shaman on guitar, Kenrick George on bass, Philbert Cumminngs on percussion, and Curvan himself on drums. In early 1960, the group made its debut on the Teen Dance Party hosted in the studios of Radio Trinidad, and proved to be an instant hit, laying the foundation for the popularity and success of the band on the Trinidad dance music scene throughout the decade of the ’60s.

This engagement at Radio Trinidad was extended from a single session on Saturday morning with the addition of another in the early afternoon. A testimony to the great popularity of the radio broadcast and studio party, it also reflected the increasing admiration for the Clarence Clarence Orchestra, and fueled demand for the band at fairs and dances, almost immediately following its emergence in 1960. In the early months of the band’s entry into the musical life and psyche of the Trinidad’s dancing fraternity, Curvan solicited Emory Cook, then operating a recording studio in the Mt. Hope area of Trinidad, to record some of the band arrangements.  With the success of the the initial recording, an arrangement of Teensville that captured the imagination of the local youth, Cook recorded and released the band music regularly. Some of the tunes from these Cook sessions include:

610 Saga  (listen)Note: The title is taken from the track listing for the album, Belly to Belly: Dancing Calypso, on the Smithsonian Folkways website. However, this is erroneous. This correct title should be Royal Jail, which is given to another track on the Smithsonian’s list.

Rip Van Winkle (listen)

Portrait of My Love (listen)

Clair de Lune (listen)

In this early stage of the band’s existence, its composition included two saxes playing harmony, along with the piano, guitar, bass, drums, and percussion. Curvan notes that this sound was influenced, in part,  by the Sel Duncan band, which also incorporated two saxes and was exceedingly popular in dances at the time. The Curvan band played varied styles of music but emphasized calypsos, boleros, rhumba, and other Caribbean styles, along with the fox trot and waltz.  The different melodic instruments alternated in taking the lead, and while the saxes dominated in this regard, many of the arrangements featured the piano or guitar for extended solos.

Eventually, the band’s composition was changed to included the brass instruments. This saw the entry into the band of trumpeter, Ron Berridge, who would eventually become a respected and famed bandleader in his own right. The period of the sixties saw other young musicians, such as now-deceased Clive Bradley and Roy Cape, serve as members of the Clarence Curvan Orchestra. Saxophonist Cape eventually left to join Berridge’s band, and has led his own exceedingly successful aggregation, Roy Cape and the Calypso All Stars, for last three decades. Bradley became the pianist and arranger of the band after Griffith migrated. He too led his own unit, the Esquires, and became internationally renowned for his arrangements of steelband music.

The Clarence Curvan Orchestra has since survived some hiccups, but it still thrives in New York City and performs at balls and function across the United States.


Jamaica Ska Legend Eric “Monty” Morris

Jamaican ska music legend Eric “Monty” Morris will return to the Southland on August 27th for what will be his fifth ever show in the City of Angeles. Monty will be honored in a very special Tribute To A Living Legend showcase inside the popular new reggae night spot, The Joint.

Fresh from his debut European tour and in support of his first full-length album entitled The Living Legends Collection, Monty will be backed by an all-star cast of L.A. based musicians for this one night only. Also on the bill will be L.A.’s reggae rising stars Penny Reel (named after Monty’s hit song), popular San Diego ska outfit The Amalgamated, deejay Ras Sal and emcee Junor Francis (of KXLU radio). Monty’s fans can expect a high energy set that will include his hits “Humpty Dumpty,” “Strongman Sampson,” “Penny Reel” and “Oil In My Lamp.”

Eric “Monty” Morris

Monty Morris, who has outlived many of his contemporaries, is recognized and considered one of the founding fathers of ska music. As early as 1961, prior to Jamaica gaining its independence from Great Britain, he had several hit songs such as “I’ve Tried,” “Me & My Forty Five,” “Say That You Love Me,” “Search the World” and the chart topping, “Humpty Dumpty” for singer/producer Prince Buster. Also in 1961, he recorded “To Be or Not to Be” for producer Coxsone Dodd.

That same year Monty teamed up with Jamaican expatriate who now resides in Canada, Roy Panton. The duo released several unique and brilliant cuts “In & Out the Window,” Oh Little Honey” and Sweetie Pie,” all of which made cash registers ring for producer Duke Reid. Along with giants of the ska epoch, Alton Ellis, Stranger Cole and Ken Boothe, Morris grew up in the Trench Town area of Kingston, Jamaica. His big opportunity came when he competed in the ever so popular Vere Johns’ Opportunity Hour.

Monty Morris

From there Monty went on to make hit songs for every Kingston producer of the day. With his popularity at an all time high, having placed multiple tunes such as “Strongman Sampson,” “Humpty Dumpty,” “Drop Your Sword,” “Penny Reel” and “Oil in My Lamp,” on the top ten charts on both Jamaican radio stations, JBC and RJR, Monty could do no wrong. He was commissioned to perform in the United States at the highly prestigious 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The fabulous cast of Jamaican musicians that rocked the foundation of New York City included Millie Small, Jimmy Cliff, and Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. The Fair’s theme was “Peace through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.”

By 1966, Jamaica’s first indigenous music had evolved into the short lived but glorious rocksteady and Monty was back in the spotlight with his last major contribution to the Jamaican music charts “Say What You’re Saying” for producer/singer Clancy Eccles in 1968.

The following year, Monty migrated to the United States where he has been residing ever since. To date, his songs have been included in numerous ska, rocksteady and reggae compilations. Much to his delight, in the 2003 Jim Jarmusch directed film “Coffee and Cigarettes,” used his song “Enna Bella” as one of soundtrack numbers.

In March of 2011 Monty released his first full-length album “The Living Legends Collection – Eric Monty Morris (Buckley Records).” /

For original article:


African American Heritage Parade 2011

On Sunday May 29th 2011, the Annual African-American Heritage Statewide Parade, celebrating its 45th anniversary, was hosted in Newark, New Jersey. “The parade received its beginning in 1966, when heritage enthusiasts conceived the concept, and called it the Crispus Attucks Parade, but it was discontinued in 1976. It was revived in 1979 as the Black Heritage Day Parade, which continued until 1993. Today, Newark can boast of hosting the largest Black Cultural Celebration in New Jersey” (

The 2011 installment of the parade paid homage to the numerous men and women, who were at the forefront of many of the struggles and achievements of African Americans over the centuries of their presence in North America. Organizers and participants in the parade honored famed individuals, such as: Booker T. Washington, Fredrick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many others.

Among the participants in the parade were numerous high school marching bands, which came from many areas of New Jersey. The Medgar Evers College Preparatory Marching Band of Brooklyn New York came across the river and enthusiastically made their contribution to the events. Together with the East Orange Unified Marching Band and the Plainfield High School Marching Band, they engaged in an impromptu and competitive Battle of the Bands in Lincoln Park, the starting point of the parade (see and These ensembles then joined the other bands, like Central High School Marching Band, to provide creative and energetic musical and marching performances, that were warmly received by the hundreds of spectators along the Broad St. parade route.

Prominently featured in the parade were the banners and placards of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), which recalled and celebrated the civil rights and black power struggles of the 1960s. Large placards “shouted”: “Say Loud, I’m black and I’m Proud”, “Power to the People”, “Black is Beautiful”, and many others. With these slogans boldly displayed, the members and supporters of the POP undoubtedly triggered the memory of the those in the audience, old enough to remember that turbulent era of the black populace struggles for equal rights against the discrimination of the segregation laws. The banners also served to register those historical events into the consciousness of the young, and engender continued pride in the achievements of African Americans.


Lord Kitchener steps off the Empire Windrush

Lord Kitchener. Photograph: Popperfoto

When the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, a new Britain was born. On board was the first wave of West Indian guest workers, answering a British government advertisement for cheap transport to the mother country to fill the postwar labour shortage.

The seeds of multicultural Britain were duly sown. Further down the line lay the Notting Hill riots of 1958, Joe Harriott at Ronnie Scott’s, the Notting Hill street carnival, the Equals singing Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys, the Clash singing Police and Thieves, football fans throwing bananas at black players, black players becoming international captains, Lenny Henry offering to be repatriated to Dudley, Paul Gilroy’s There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack, the Brixton and Toxteth riots of 1981, Janet Kay trilling Silly Games on Top of the Pops, Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors, the London Community Gospel Choir, the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Zephaniah turning down an MBE, pirate radio, natty dread, funki dred, drum’n’bass, dubstep, grime, Dizzie Rascal. All this was to come.

First, though, first came Kitchener. The Windrush, a former German liner popular with the Nazi naval elite, included onboard Lord Kitchener and Lord Beginner, Trinidad’s top calypsonians. Remarkably, when Kitchener disembarked, Pathe News caught the “king of calypso” on camera. Pathe was documenting “The Great British Black Invasion”. Asked to sing, Kitchener didn’t miss a beat. “London is the place for me,” he crooned, “London, this lovely city …” He had yet to experience smog-bound austerity Brixton, whose labour exchange was first port of call for many of Kitchener’s 500 fellow travellers.

“Kitch” worked his own passage, in clubs and pubs. Soon he, Beginner and others were passing comment on national life on record; the 1950 England-West Indies test match was celebrated on Cricket, Lovely Cricket. The 1951 general election and the 1953 coronation followed while closer to home was My Landlady and her demands for rent. With its wit and side order of double entendre – “Oh mister, don’t touch me tomatoes” – calypso fitted easily into the national psyche.

The musical history of multi-racial Britain is usually elided to omit the 50s, jumping to the Jamaican insurgency of the 60s, but in London at least there was a vibrant scene, ranging from the big band swing of Jamaica’s Leslie “Jiver” Hutchinson to the steel band of Trinidadian Russ Henderson. It was a diverse, global mix drawn to the mother country from different parts of the Empire, with jazz providing the lingua franca.

Little documented, the scene was caught by Colin MacInnes in his 1957 novel City of Spades, whose hero is a West African hustler called Johnny Fortune. MacInnes gives us a glimpse of a secret London of nightclubs and shebeens, petty criminals, prostitutes, corrupt cops, outsiders by race, sexuality or choice. It’s a parallel world to the starchy conformism of drab, respectable Britain.

Black America, of course, played its part, but a new, cosmopolitan fusion that spoke specifically to black Britons was under way. More than bananas had come off the banana boats in London’s docks. It was The Banana Boat Song, a Jamaican work chant, that broke calypso to an international audience.

As the 50s teetered into the 60s, calypso was still popular. Like much else, it would be swept aside by pop, R&B, and folk. In particular, there was soul, whose confident, civil rights-tinged modernism offered a new model to black people across the globe. When Sam Cooke sang A Change is Gonna Come, the racial rulebook changed.

Jamaican music was quickest to pick up the new mood of black America, and add its own innovatory ideas to create reggae. When the Notting Hill carnival moved onto the streets in 1966, it was a Trinidadian, calypsonian celebration, though reggae and its sound systems would come to define the event in the 1970s, when the story of Reggae Britannica takes off. First, though, there was Kitch.

For original article:  Lord Kitchener steps off the Empire Windrush | Music | The Guardian.


Notting Hill Carnival could be axed

Notting Hill Carnival 2011 may yet be cancelled with directors are set to make a decision on whether the event will go ahead late next week following the riots that have swept the country this week, Event can reveal.

As Event reported yesterday, comments were rife on Twitter, suggesting the carnival could be called off if the violence persists.

There is concern the event, which attracts two million people over the August bank holiday weekend, could spark a repeat of the recent trouble.

A carnival insider confirmed to Event they are still working on the event as if it is going to happen.

“The directors are speaking with police and the council and assessing things on a day-to-day basis,” they told us. “They would like it to go ahead but understand the severity of the issue. It’s early days yet.”

A statement issued later read: “Given the huge number of people who take part in Carnival crime rates are low, and our policing style in recent years has ensured that less people become victims of crime. We know that everyone who loves Carnival wants that success to continue this year.”

For original article:


Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On: 40th Anniversary

The following is a review, published in Black Grooves, of the Universal Music Group 40th anniversary release of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album.

album cover:

Marvin Gaye wrote and produced the suite of songs that make up What’s Going On out of what he called a religious motivation to speak truth to troubled people in a troubled time.  That was back in 1971.  Men were coming home from an unpopular war, their bodies and souls in tatters, and they couldn’t find jobs. The natural environment was threatened.  Hopelessness, drug addiction and violence dominated life in the inner cities.  It’s a sad commentary on American society that so many of these beautiful and deeply disturbing songs still ring as true in 2011 as they did in 1971.

Despite that depressing perspective, this deluxe reissue (a gatefold LP with 2 CDs inserted in the back cover) is a joyous occasion for fans of great soul music. Universal Music Group has remastered the original album (CD 1), with resulting punchier sound.  Also included on the first CD are the original mono single versions of several songs plus some unreleased demos and mixes.

CD 2, called “The Detroit Instrumental Sessions and More” is, first of all, a sampler’s delight as well as college-level schooling on how great funk beats and hooks are laid into coherent grooves.  The tracks also provide a window into Gaye’s creative process right after What’s Going On exploded on the scene and raced up the charts, showing what sorts of musical ideas he contemplated exploring and exploiting.  Judging from many of the hard-funk grooves, he was headed where Jimi Hendrix had gone in the last year of his life, toward a meeting of rock and soul with a funk beat that included layers of rock-style distorted guitars and heavy electric bass.

The main feature of the set is an LP of the original “Detroit” mix from April 1971.  What was actually issued as Tamla TS 310 in May 1971 was a remix and revision done in Los Angeles, just weeks before the final release date (the new LP was not previewed for this review).

What’s Going On represented a new direction at Motown.  With this album, Marvin Gaye moved Motown into the ‘70s and moved his music into a new, serious and thoughtful, realm. But it was a struggle to get it released. According to the liner notes, Gaye put his career on the line with Motown founder Berry Gordy, who was also his brother-in-law.  After Gordy delayed putting out the single of “What’s Going On,” Gaye threatened to “never record for (Gordy) again.”  In a recent interview with Marc Myers, published in the Wall Street Journal and also on Myers’ Jazzwax blog, Gordy denied there was that much drama but admitted that he had strong reservations about an album he considered commercially questionable and potentially very controversial and divisive.  The album did succeed in the marketplace and its prominence grew with time, causing Gordy to later admit that “Marvin was right.”

According to Ben Edmonds’ liner notes, the album was produced and overseen by Gaye, but many others played key parts.  The title track was conceived by Obie Benson (of the Four Tops) and Al Cleveland, and then embraced, altered and re-worked by Gaye and the “Funk Brothers” (Motown’s studio musicians).  Gaye’s wife, Anna Gordy Gaye, helped with lyrics to “Flying High.”  Motown elevator operator James Nyx came up with the lyrics used in “What’s Happening Brother,” “God Is Love,” and “Inner City Blues.”  Gaye was solely responsible for “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Gaye also added outside musicians, including jazz drummer Chet Forest and saxman Wild Bill Moore, plus lush instrumentations by David Van DePitte (who was given a credit on the front cover of the LP).

Following is a clip from the DVD Marvin Gaye: Real Thing: In Performance 1964-1981:

What’s Going On was also the last major Motown album recorded and produced in Detroit; the company completed its move to Los Angeles while the album was still on the Billboard charts.  The new, complex and mature music style that Gaye pioneered was immediately embraced by Stevie Wonder and other Motown artists, and the days of “hit factory machine” pop ditties were over. In that same era, Motown had success with Rare Earth, an all-white rock band.

Marvin Gaye went on to other great successes, but What’s Going On will always stand as his deepest and broadest statement, a suite of music that was very bold and new in its time and still sounds fresh and relevant today.  The facts of Gaye’s later life and death, and the fact that his songs still ring true 40 years later, add a poignancy to this new reissue.  In the tradition of well-done deluxe reissues, this set augments the great album at its core with good liner notes and artwork, related musical perspective and something new and collectable with the alternate-mix LP.

Reviewed by Tom Fine


For the original review: Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On: 40th Anniversary |


…Drum Call a ‘tribute to the ancestors’

A HANDFUL of devoted Orisha members yesterday kickstarted the Emancipation Day celebrations at the All Stars panyard, in Port of Spain with the spirutal drum calling.

The drum calling, which was the official opening of the day’s celebration, started at 5 a.m., some 30 minutes later than scheduled, with close to 20 participants, beating drums and other instruments, singing, chanting and calling on their ancestors to not only bless the day, but all people of African origin in the country.

The procession began at the panyard on Duke Street, and then proceeded to Piccadilly Street and on to Independence Square where the participants ended at the Treasury Building where the Emancipation Declaration was signed 177 years ago and celebrated for the past 173 years yesterday.

Speaking with the Express yesterday during the procession, Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada, a member of the Orisha faith and participant in this year’s Drum Call, said the idea behind the exercise is in essence a message to the ancestors.

“We are using the time to give thanks and praises to our ancestors for all their blood, sweat and tears,” Uzoma-Wadada said, adding “it is a tribute to our ancestors because we are showing them that we can walk on this earth as we are, not as slaves but a beautiful, creative people”.

Uzoma-Wadada added that the loss of using the drum is symbolic of “losing part of ourselves”.

When asked what can be done to curb the number of African descendants involved in criminal activity, Uzoma-Wadada said the education system needs to be revamped and teach about the Africans prior to slavery to show the children where they came from.

“We have to educate ourselves about ourselves. African people are the only people on earth who do not educate themselves about themselves,” she added.

For original article: …Drum Call a ‘tribute to the ancestors’ | Trinidad Express Newspaper | News.

Emancipation Festivals

173rd anniversary of emancipation

173rd anniversary of emancipation | CNC3.