The event was billed, “The Grand Opening of the Lidj Omowale Emancipation Village — Celebrating our African heritage”.
Kambon recalled a song by calypsonian, Brother Superior, lamenting the then lack of a public holiday to celebrate Africans, in contrast to days commemorating other races.
Kambon quoted Superior, “I was shocked to learn that even ‘Black Friday’ isn’t our own”. While TT now has a time to mark Emancipation, he said there was no dedicated place to do so. Kambon noted that the ESC had almost not been able to access the Grandstand for the event. “We want one place where we can celebrate, and we want that place before it is too late,” he urged.
“We have been like nomads. We need a place to celebrate and call our own for Emancipation, and other things for people of African descent.”
Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston “Gypsy” Peters, in his address, vowed, “You have my unwavering support in finding a home for the Emancipation Support Committee. You would have to take the first initiative to get this off the ground, then I will become your ‘support committee.’”
The ESC’s Pearl Eintou Springer urged Peters to get more involved in celebrations to mark the Year of People of African Descent, as designated by the United Nations. She said there is little in the school curriculum to make children proud to be African. Springer lamented that after the Haitian earthquake children in TT’s schools were told the devastation was due to Haitians supposedly being “devil worshippers”.
She said such remarks showed little understanding of African spirituality. Springer urged that places in TT be named after eminent nationals (involved in pan-African consciousness) such as George Padmore and CLR James. “So our children when they pick up a textbook, will feel proud.
After 400 years of enslavement, pride won’t drop from the sky.”
After the speeches, MC’s Dara Healey and Stirling Kent introduced cultural acts.
Listeners were taken to the plains of Africa by the sounds of wildlife created amazingly by the Dayo Bejide Trio (led by Modupe Onilu).
Len Boogsie Sharp mesmerised all by his deftness on the steel-pan. The Junior Bisnath Moko Jumbies pranced to a recording of Ella Andell’s hit, “Bring down the power”.
“Something Positive”, a Caribbean troupe based in New York City, gave a song, dance and drum performance, as a show within a show, based on the work of their founder, the late Cheryl Byron, a friend of jazz legend, the late Nina Simone.
The young women of Bishop Anstey High School Senior Choir gave a folk-styled performance of the songs of David Rudder (“Calypso Music”), Winston “Shadow” Bailey (“Dingolay”) and Destra Garcia (“Sweet Surrender”).
Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste, backed by the Kelly Green Band, sang his vintage favourites, including “Caribbean Man”.
The show went past its due end time of 10 pm, up until 12.30 am.