THE drums of the Yoruba Village Drum Festival could be heard throughout the east Port of Spain and environs as people gathered at the village square to commemorate 181 years of Emancipation. Held on June 15, the day before Father’s day, the festival is a tribute to the fathers of the community as well as a recognition of our Yoruba ancestry.
Khafra Kambon, chairman of the Emancipation Support committee (ESCTT), recognised Yoruba culture as the strongest element of African culture, brought to the Caribbean during the colonial era. The Yoruba people came originally from the nations of Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo and settled in the East Port of Spain district made up of Belmont, Gonzales, Morvant and Laventille.
In a speech to festival-goers, Dr Deborah Thomas-Austin managing director of East Port of Spain Development Company Ltd, declared East Port of Spain as the “cultural capital” as various youth groups from all over the country gathered to perform at the festival out of love for their culture.
“We acknowledge that the problems are many and varied but they’re not insurmountable … we can solve them together. We need to put our heads together to find a solution and we need to work with the powers that be to ensure that these solutions are implemented,” said Thomas-Austin. She expressed her belief that music, specifically drumming, has the power to bring the community together, and encourages youth to “continue to use these instruments for the healing of our communities and our souls.”
Likewise, South African High Commissioner Xoliswa Nomatamasanqa Ngwevela, called on the youths present at the event, to educate themselves not only in the academia, but in various skills. “Don’t look to other countries to solve your problems, look from within and try to build our countries,” Ngwevela said as she expressed her belief that we must own our destiny to move the country forward.
After attending the festival for several years, Thomas-Austin expressed her aim of working with the ESCTT to place a permanent representation of the Yoruba Village Drum Festival and the significance of the Yoruba Village square to the community of Port of Spain.
Some of the groups present were the Frontline Drummers, Claxton bay Tamboo Bamboo Band, Chaguanas Women Youth group and the Sankofa Cultural Organisation.