The curtains came down on the 2019 Tobago Heritage Festival last Thursday evening at the Pigeon Point Heritage Park for the Emancipation Gala and Drum Explosion. The audience enjoyed an evening of African music and dance by Zante folk performers and Unity Drummers.
The celebrations started with a performance by Drummers of Tomorrow followed by a stage production from the Charlottesville Folk Performers and entertainment by Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra. Despite the bad weather, the show continued as planned and was enjoyed by all.
The festival ended in a street procession from Pigeon Point Heritage Park to the Store Bay beach facility.
In his address, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles described this year’s heritage festival as truly an authentic educational experience. He said the closing of the festival on Emancipation Day signifies the celebration of the African influence on TT’s culture and traditions.
“This rich culture still managed to survive as Afro-Trinbagonian. We should never forget, whenever we feel discouraged, that we house this same warrior spirit within. It has the power to overcome any darkness and the will to be greater than any obstacle – to defeat challenges. This is the attitude and strength we must rely on as we attempt to charter a brighter future together.”
Charles reminded Tobagonians their struggle towards building and strengthening the island has proved Tobago is equipped with all the necessary tools needed to survive.
“Now is the time for us all to do the necessary work to thrive. This year, Emancipation encourages us to use our freedom to end all prejudice...The journey to slavery to Emancipation is not an easy one; ergo prejudice still confront us from time to time. We must not do any ill-wills to each other. History, as painful and emotional as it may be, is there to provide us with the awareness to our past failures and to cautions us from making similar mistakes.”
Secretary for Tourism and Culture Nadine Stewart-Phillips declared the 2019 heritage festival a success.
“This year’s Tobago heritage festival did much more than entertain; there was certainly an increase in knowledge and generational awakening,” she said.
“We, as Tobagonians, have managed to collectively accomplish another great successful Tobago Heritage Festival. Over the last two weeks the island became a main stage as we showcased our heritage. As we acknowledge the influences of our colonisers, we embrace the national colours of red, white and black in a people that continues to become more beautiful.”
She urged Tobagonians to extract the treasures over the tragedy within the island’s history. She further called on all to be mindful of the sacrifices and take advantage of the opportunities available to develop Tobago.
“We must respect our freedom as we celebrate our emancipation. It is quite fitting that today’s closing ceremony ends with a flambeau-lit procession, which is symbolic to event.”