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Sunday 19 January 2020
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Nine vie for Ms Tobago Heritage crown

Miss Tobago Heritage 2018 Oshun Trum, centre, with the participants for the 2019 edition which gets under way on Friday. There were originally ten contestants but one dropped out.
Miss Tobago Heritage 2018 Oshun Trum, centre, with the participants for the 2019 edition which gets under way on Friday. There were originally ten contestants but one dropped out.

Nine contestants will be competing on Friday at the Miss Heritage Personality show at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex.

This event is another highlight and one of the most anticipated on the Tobago Heritage Festival calendar.

The show features representatives from various villages and youth groups throughout Tobago.

This year, the queens promise a show full of entertainment and all of Tobago’s rich heritage for an evening providing an authentic educational experience.

Among the contestants are Isis Pierre, 24, of Scarborough who admitted that even though she is anxious and overwhelmed from the responsibilities and expectations, she is confident she will be crowned Miss Heritage.

She said, “It is my first time, so that contributes to my overall feeling. The experience has been very informative and very interactive. I've learnt that every village has its distinct uniqueness. especially Scarborough; to me it stands out because the idea of 'jumbies' and folk-tales aren't necessarily attached to the town. However, it still holds the heritage of old-time characters, foods, buildings, locations and the list goes on. It was very nice to learn of these things." Pierre said she understands the importance of the festival to the island, which is why the competition is more than just a queen show.

“To me, the Tobago Heritage Festival means history of both facts and myths that somehow brings a village/town together, even if it’s for just the heritage festival's period of time.”

For 19-year-old Lauralee Greene, it is a pleasure to represent her home village Parlatuvier.

The first-time contender said she once contested the Windward Afro Queen show and although she failed to walk away with the crown, she acquired a wealth of knowledge.

“So far the experience in the Miss Tobago Heritage Personality show is quite intriguing and educational. What I have learnt about Tobago heritage is that the island has its own unique custom, from Charlotteville to Crown Point.” If she wins the crown she promises to advocate for the community to continue cherish its rich culture.

Les Coteaux's representative Shawnique Gardiner said she was confident but a bit anxious so far.

The 18-year-old told Newsday she has been made aware of the treasures of Charlotteville and the pride the villages display to show their lifestyle, food, dialect and unique practices. She said she was fascinated to hear about the washing of the bed sheet of someone who died. This Charlotteville practice was done by the village elder at the river long ago.

Moriah's Moesha Bruce, 22, said the competition has pushed her to break barriers and allowed her to grow personally, culturally and socially.

Similar to Gardiner, Bruce said she admires Charloteville’s heritage, which has caused her to see the link between the festival and Tobago’s identity. She further spoke of plans to create a history book of Tobago’s legacy to assist the island in keeping its tradition alive at homes, in schools, government institutions and throughout the world.

Her presentation on Friday night will focus on the Moriah Ole Time Wedding.

Representing Goodwood police youth club, Shanice John, 20, described the competition as educational and interactive. She said Tobago heritage is a key to a time portal that links past knowledge to present experiences. She hinted about plans to encourage more young women to take interest in Tobago’s history and how it has shaped the island into one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean.

Nikella Eastma, 20, representing the village of Charlotteville said although she too feels nervous, the experience thus far has been thrilling.

She said she was happy to learn about Dr JD Elder who was responsible for bringing the Tobago heritage from a dream to a reality.

“For me, the Tobago Heritage Festival means appreciating and sharing our culture as people of Tobago. Whether crowned queen or not, I do plan to participate in my community’s heritage production in the upcoming year. The audience should expect a great show as I am coming to show what Charlotteville has to offer.”

Maresha Bernard, 19, of Mason Hall village council Folk Performances said she is ready to compete and not intimidated as the festival brings pride to her.

“This festival is very influential on the younger generations, and also the language isn't just made-up words, they have real meanings. I do plan to contribute and participate in future endeavours by continuing to be socially active in The folk performers and possibly train or just give tips to a future delegate.”

Kyrion Ramsden, 19, of Hope village said she was hesitant when she was asked to represent her village.

Now, she has her eyes set on the crown and like the others is confident her presentation will be enough to wow the judges.

“Being a Tobagonian is something I, and most of us, hold dearly. I learnt how difficult life was back then and how despite the many seemingly struggles our predecessors had, they survived well and handed down traditions we now as a millennia generation should still hold on to.”

Nalia Taitt of Buccoo Academy of Performing Arts described the opportunity to represent her institution as a humble privilege.

“I have learnt the significance of inviting my ancestors to various ceremonies. Additionally, I’ve learnt a lot about folktales and superstition. Lastly, learning how to dance the cocoa.”

Angel Melville, 19, of Roxborough police youth club said the event has given her inspiration, encouragement and exposure to learn more about her culture and traditions.

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