Thousands breakaway in Tobago J'Ouvert

Masqueraders spray each other with powder at the Pan and Powder parade through the streets of Scarborough on Friday night. - David Reid
Masqueraders spray each other with powder at the Pan and Powder parade through the streets of Scarborough on Friday night. - David Reid

AFTER two years of lockdown, owing to the covid19 pandemic, thousands of revellers on Saturday made up for lost time during J’Ouvert morning celebrations in Tobago.

J’ouvert, and in particular, its mud festival, was touted as one of the signature events of the island’s inaugural October carnival, which began on Friday and ends today.

Spectators chip along with Katzenjammers at Pan and Powder along Old Milford Road to Gardenside car park, Scarborough on Friday night. - Photo by David Reid

The main parade route from Viewport Supermarket, along Milford Road, Canaan, to Crown Point, was cut off to vehicular traffic and transformed into a sea of colour as revellers wined, jumped and danced as though there was no tomorrow.

They were accompanied by more than a dozen music trucks, which played a mixture of contemporary and old school soca along the route.

At one point, deejays also struck a soothing note among the crowd, playing several of Burna Boy’s (Damani Ebunoluwa Ogulu’s) selections.

Thousands crowd the streets from Bon Accord to Crown Point for J'Ouvert in Tobago on Saturday. - Photo by David Reid

The Nigerian-born, Grammy-winning artiste was the headliner at the Tobago Music and Cultural Festival’s concert at the Plymouth Recreation Ground on Thursday night.

Organisers said Burna Boy delivered and exhilarating performance even though thundershowers had caused many patrons to stay away.

Although there was also a heavy police and army presence during J’Ouvert, it was reported that a woman suffered a head injury during a bottle-throwing incident and was taken for medical attention at hospital.

The event, which was due to start at 4 am, began more than an hour late with popular band Fog Angels, led by businessman Tele Cruz. It featured several sections in a range of eye-catching colours.

Traditional carnival characters such as moko jumbies, gorillas, blue devils and fire breathers could also be seen among the revellers.

J’Ouvert attracted several well-known entertainment and sporting personalities, including Shal Marshall, Trinidad Killa, Turner and national senior football team goalkeeper Kimika Forbes.

Although Fog Angels had tight security, many people still penetrated the band for a dance with their family and friends.

“I come out here to have a time,” one female Fog Angels reveller said. “You know how long I was preparing for this – since they announced that Tobago would have its own carnival in October.”

The woman then laughed and took a selfie with two of her friends.

Masqueraders have a ball at J'Ouvert in Tobago on Saturday. - David Reid

Other bands included Bago Limers’ Colour Me Mud; Sin City’s Break Free; Swanky Productions Mas-Up; Utopia’s J’ouvert and Paint; Dirty Medics; Monkey Buzness, among others.

At 9.30 am, police stopped the music, much to the disapproval of revellers, some of whom openly condemned the action.

“We eh even get into the thing good yet and the music stop already. They cudda give we at least up to 12 o’clock,” one man said.

Once it became clear that the police was not budging, revellers sat on pavements in belief while some used the opportunity to get drinks and food. Others simply walked to their cars.

Exiting Crown Point, though, proved to be a nightmare for east-bound drivers, who remained stuck in gridlock traffic for several hours after the music was shut off.

The police held a news conference on Friday at the Shirvan Police Station outlining its traffic arrangements for street events during carnival among other policing matters for the period but many felt the plan had collapsed.

The revellery picked up again at the Mud is Life festival at Crusoe Drive, Storebay Local Road. The event was supposed to start at 10 am but activities only got going almost two hours later. Again, traffic congestion to get to the venue caused scores of people to turn away.

However, the show got off to a smooth start with performances by soca artistes Ding Dong and Young Bredda.

Mud and water sprayed from every side covering revellers as they enjoyed the mixed lineup of performers. However, the crowd grew smaller after the second hour of the event.

One woman leaving the event said she was not impressed by the performances and was tired from the J'Ouvert celebrations.

Another person complained about the length of the performances in the first part of the show.

The energy from soca star Swappi's performance got the crowd moving but the artistes after him struggled to keep the audience entertained.

Many of the people at the event were still in their J'Ouvert wear.

Excitement peaked, just after noon, when Iwer George was called on stage. His hyped performance was pumped up further by Trinidad Killa's performance of Gun Man in She Hole hit.

Revellers breakaway during the J'Ouvert celebrations in Tobago on Saturday. - David Reid

Grenadian soca star Mr Killa closed the festival as the surprise guest artiste.

Spectators became uncontrollable as he crowd-surfed in a tarpaulin carried by unrestrained revellers through mud and water.

The event was a celebration of the island's connection and contribution to mud J'Ouvert in TT's Carnival. It was hosted by Mudern Mud in collaboration with the Tobago House of Assembly.

On Friday night, Pan Trinbago hosted a Pan and Powder parade with bands such as Tobago's Katzenjammers and guest bands from Trinidad, among them Massy All Stars and bpTT Renegades.

Today, the carnival climaxes with the parade of the bands through the streets of Scarborough, beginning from 10 am.
– with reporting by Elizabeth Gonzales


"Thousands breakaway in Tobago J’Ouvert"

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