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Sunday 25 August 2019
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Black Rock honours past, celebrates future

Dancers begin a folk performance at the Black Rock Sea Festival event at Courland Heritage Park.
Dancers begin a folk performance at the Black Rock Sea Festival event at Courland Heritage Park.

Honouring the past, celebrating our future.

This was the theme at the Black Rock Sea Festival, a production for the 2019 Tobago Heritage Festival last Thursday night.

The fishing village’s main activities, which got under way shortly after 7.30pm last Thursday, acknowledged not only the traditions of their forefathers but also the symbiotic relationship that exists between their ancestors and the ocean.

During their two-hour presentation at the Courland Heritage Park, they paid tribute to their ancestors through storytelling, drama, music, song and dance. The scene began with Isabel Paul in the role of a teacher.

Tobago Alpha Dance Academy dancers perform at the Wake Up Call to launch the Black Rock Sea Festival, along Shirvan Road, Black Rock, last Thursday. PHOTO BY JEFF K MAYERS

During her research, she noted the cultural roots of the steelpan can be traced back to the West African slaves who came to work on the plantations. African drumming and music provided a link to their homeland.

When the British took control of TT the colonial masters became afraid of secret messages being sent through drumming and a ban was placed on drumming, dancing, and the shaking of chac chac in 1868.

In 1951, the Black Rock fishermen as well as the youth from the village enjoyed themselves in a steelband jump-up on Carnival Tuesday and decided to have their own Black Rock steelband.

George Josie Richardson, of Plymouth Esso Wonder Harps, loaned them their first set of steelpans. Cassie, Jeremy and Logan collected the steelpans and on their way back to Black Rock, through Courland Bay, they were chased by the Plymouth fisherfolk, who thought that they had stolen the steelpans.

The steelband story comprised the African influence, the fisherfolk songs and dance, drama, performances from the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, calypsoes about historic steelband experiences and spiritual medley.

Beverley Ramsey-Moore, the first female president of Pan Trinbago, was also celebrated.

Speaking with Newsday following the show, Ramsey-Moore, acting as Lorna, described the Black Rock production as educative and informative.

“So those people who came for that aspect were very satisfied and encouraging us to work on it, bring it tighter and then we can make money off of it. For me, I think that this was really one of the best productions that I have ever worked in,” she said, adding that she too learnt a lot.

She said while Katzenjammers practices year-round, the production team had one week to put the piece together.

The presentation came on the heels of the wake-up call procession which began the village’s celebrations earlier in the day.

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