Independence Day tabanca

MAIN PIC: Even as decorations line Frederick Street on Monday, the road and sidewalk, usually filled with people celebrating a national milestone, remain deserted on Independence Day as covid19 restrictions are enforced. - Vidya Thurab
MAIN PIC: Even as decorations line Frederick Street on Monday, the road and sidewalk, usually filled with people celebrating a national milestone, remain deserted on Independence Day as covid19 restrictions are enforced. - Vidya Thurab

It felt like one of those lazy Sunday afternoons when church services were finished and everyone retreated to their homes for that extra quiet time before heading back out to the busy, noisy world. But it was not just an ordinary day. It was TT’s birthday. It was this country’s 58th year of Independence.

Usually, this day would be celebrated with drums and speeches and pomp. People would have been dressed in varying forms of red, white and black.

Then, in true TT style, many would then visit the Avenue (Ariapita) for drink, pan and party.

However, covid19 has silenced TT’s Independence Day celebrations like many other things in the world.

There was Independence signage on buildings in Port of Spain but the bodies and people that would be in their glee celebrating yet another year of being that “proud, proud Trini” Rodney “Benjai” Le Blanc sang about in Trini, were nowhere to be seen. San Fernando looked very much the same.

W/Cpl Nicole Cummings, like many, had an Independence Day tabanca. She has been a police officer for 20 years and took part in the annual parade for 15 years as a part of the police’s drum core.

The Grand Stand at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, unusually deserted on Independence Day as it hosted no parade this year owing to restrictions put in place by government to slow the spread of covid19. - Vidya Thurab

It was always very exciting for her being a part of the parade.

She said to Newsday in a phone interview, “You would think that the walk is far but you reach really quick after the parade is dismissed at the Savannah...that was the best part of the parade seeing the people on the road enjoying the music. And then they hand you water…”

She said having fun and seeing people dancing always gave her a wonderful feeling.

“Imagine your music making people feel this way. You’re probably building dreams for children as they watch you, thinking one day I could do this,” she said.

While she missed the parade she equally missed the annual Pan on the Avenue. But Cummings said she understood that safety comes first and spent her Independence Day enjoying the company of four friends at home.

Gospel Singer and calypsonian Denyse Plummer whose 2001 Nah Leaving captures all that is beautiful about TT said she also spent the day with family and friends.

In a brief phone interview Plummer said she also looked back at other celebrations and reflected how blessed many in TT were to still be around.

“So many changes are taking place that we have no control over. But we still have control over ourselves and our families and our love for each other.”

She added everyone in TT just has to pray and leave things in God’s hands.

She said people had to get back to what was important in life which is family and love for each other.

Similarly, reigning calypso monarch Terri Lyons spent the day with her six-year-old son, Matthias. She also reflected on the past parades and Independence celebrations.

She said TT needed to understand that at these moments being “your brother’s keeper” was very important.

“There are a lot of things that we cannot survive without and we have been surviving without it in the past….we need to keep hold of our natural resources because in times like these it is important we have it to fall back on,” she said.

While many might have taken a reflective view on the muted Independence Day celebrations, some were happy that the day was quietly celebrated.

For Sharon Harding she was happy that there were no fireworks at the Queens Park Savannah this year.

“The poor animals we have locked up in the zoo would not have to go through the usual trauma,” she said.

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