THE re-enactment of the 1881 Canboulay riots on Piccadilly Greens, Port of Spain, is a large part of the Carnival experience for many people. This year, Kambule the film, a new docudrama about the riots, will be aired on TTT, on what would have been J’Ouvert morning, February 15, at 5 am.
The retelling of the classic story is directed by award-winning filmmaker Maya Cozier. The film will premiere as part of a morning of activities dedicated to keeping the spirit of Carnival alive. In a release, Kambule playwright Eintou Springer said, “It’s been an exciting and challenging process taking this play in such a different direction. It has been a joy to work so closely with Maya to realise her vision of how to translate the play to the screen.”
Founder of Idakeda, which traditionally produces the play, and movement and dance choreographer for the film Dara Healy said, “the story documents the fact that stickfighters and jamettes in Port of Spain and San Fernando and other parts of the country resisted the attempts by the colonial administration to oppress our culture.
"It is unfortunate that TT has not claimed the story of 1881. Even though we boast of TT Carnival inspiring 100-plus Carnivals all over the world, this is not a story we have claimed and boasted about.
“In this period where culture, the arts, the economy, the country, are under pressure, we need to go back to aspects of our community that identify who we are. Canboulay celebrates not just (the) actions of the stickfighters in 1881, it’s a wider, bigger experience that takes in all aspects of TT.
“When you look at the aspects of Black Indian masquerade, which has contributions from Warao and Kalinago and African components, we have Hindu portrayals, you have Chinese dragons – Carnival is about all of us, so I think it was unfortunate that we were told it’s not on. We need to claim not just the fancy aspects of the Carnival but we need to claim this as well, because Canboulay, as we did it on the streets, is one of the few traditional aspects of Carnival remaining.”
The release said scenes from the play were shot in iconic locations across East Port of Spain, as well as at the recently-restored Mille Fleurs.
The story is woven together by interviews with Springer, Rawle Gibbons and Rondel Benjamin of Bois Academy.
Healy, who is also a Newsday columnist, said the company was financially affected by the official decision not to host Carnival-related events, like other elements of Carnival.
“However, it gave us an opportunity to rethink our product. We are able to mark this watershed moment in the history of the people’s struggle for Carnival thanks to the kind support of both private and public-sector entities.”
With the cancellation of Carnival, Idakeda is seeking support from the community and corporate TT to bring Kambule online in 2021. She said putting the film online is about claiming the space for TT in the international sphere.
To contribute, go to: https://fundmetnt.com/campaign/kambule-the-spirit-of-resistance-and-creativity-in-the-trinidad-carnival