Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Transportation Nadine has praised the pioneers of the Tobago Heritage Festival.
Last Tuesday, 70 cultural forerunners – living and dead –who contributed to the island’s cultural landscape were honoured for their contributions to the development of the indigenous festival, which started in 1987.
Forty-four living recipients were given commemorative plaques at the event, held at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort, Lowlands, and 26 awards were given posthumously. The names of all awardees will be put on the Heritage Scroll of Honour and displayed at the Icons of Tobago Museum.
In her address, Stewart-Phillips said their invaluable contributions to the island’s heritage and culture ensured Tobago has maintained its cultural identity.
“You are the forerunners who have actively contributed to the development of the island’s heritage product," she said.
She urged those present to “continue to encourage and support our rich heritage, even as we endeavour to expand and develop the product. This ensures the sustainability of the festival, which can also result in both tangible and intangible benefits for the people of Tobago.”
Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Kelvin Charles, in his feature address, said the awards are timely, given the passing of several cultural figures over the past year.
“I believe that what we are doing here this evening is an incredibly important action that ought to be taken more seriously by us as a people.
“A quick reflection of the past year in TT would substantiate this... In the last quarter alone, we mourned the passing of many of our cultural icons. We grappled with the untimely demise of Ken "Professor" Philmore, the death of Dr Winston Bailey, the death of Winston Scarborough,” he said.
Charles reaffirmed the commitment by the current assembly to extol the service and dedication of contributors in specific spheres.
Posthumous recipients included Tobago Heritage Festival initiator Dr Jacob D Elder; Congo Bele inventor Henry James; and designer of the Heritage Festival logo Dr Edward Christopher Hernandez.
The living award recipients included former chairman of the Tobago Heritage Committee Annette Alfred; educator, actress and producer Dr Eastlyn McKenzie; and the "groom" at the first re-enactment of the Tobago Ole Time Wedding in 1987, Samuel Patterson.