THE COLOL'.R OF CRJRIIV,.L ,T C.\RIFEUTi
Guyanats nearest Caribbean neighbour Trinidad and Tobago,
out of which has emerged the limbo, calypso and steelband, will be
presenting on the CAFIFE5TA stage a colourful heritage that began
many forgotten moons ago with the Caribs, Arawaks and Chayman Indians.
The spectacle of the Carnival bacchanal cannot be transported
from Trinidad and Tobago to the C''PIFESTA arena, but the spirit of
that frenzied cultural extravaganza which started in Spanish times and
absorbs the rhythms and movements of the African, Indian, Portuguese,
Chinese, Syrian and the English, will be brought by its peoples.
The Trinidad cultural scene is uniquely Caribbean in that the
sunny spirit of the people spill over into everything, even their re-
ligion and festivals.
The Trinidad cultural scene erupts in late summer during the
Hosein Festival-a religious festival in honour of two Moslem brothers
killed in a holy war.
Moslems of the Shiah sect keep this occasion with drum beating,
chanting and ceremonial pomp in Port-of-Spain.
But the Highlight of the Trinidad and Tobago cultural life is
the yearly Carnival in Port-of-Spain.
This gay "ffair tends to-send everyone "mad" as they laugh,
sing and dance with Lv ryone else, Carnival is celebrated on the Monday
and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, that is, except this year, and dates
back to the Spanish occupation of the Island.
The celebration starts with Ju-Vay (Jour Overt) when at 5.00
o'clock in the morning the dance h-lls pour their occupants into the
streets to be joined by thousands of other citizens jumping up and
These are dressed in raggy clothes and old costumes, depect-
in many themes.
/The centre of the celebrations tnkes place at the Independence
Square stand where a "King of the Ju-VIy" is crowned and prizes given
for the costumes.
Later in the day a real Carnival display and competition of
the bonds, cclyps'nimns and individuals including the crownin,- of
various Kings and Queens of the Carnival are done at the Queens Park
Savannah. The fete continues through the night.
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On walking through the streets of PDrt-of-Spin or Scar-
borough one can breathe the richness of the peoples culture. It
erupts in the night clubs, on the beaches, in backyards, in the pan
yards, in the Shango ritualistic gatherings and spirit houses. It
The particular genius of these people has found its expres-
sion in the calypso and steelband music. No one seems to be quite
sure as to the origin of the calypso although there is n consensus
of opinion that it is a blending of the African chantlike rhythms
and that of the French and Spanish peoples.
The rhythm is strongly African, the melodies, owe something
to Spain, while the lyrics, whitty, satiric-l, scandalous, show broad
African humour c-.rpened and polished by the French influence.
Calypso is not just for Carnival, it is a political and social
weapon of great importance in Trinidad.
This invention af the Trinidadin people is now sung all over
the world, but the highspot for calypso is at C-rnival time when the
Calypso singers complete against their fellows in the tents.
Every singer hopes th-t his composition will win him the
The stoolband is Trinidadian. Out of empty oil drums these
people have evolved a music that has gone all over the world carrying
with it the spirit of a cra-tive Caribbean people.
The Trinidadian speaking his Spanish Patois and his colourful
English comes sometimes as a man following Christianity, shango and
one of the many spirit churches.
He sometimes comes as a man of East Indian origin from the
southern foothills where he grows his vegetables and fruits, grazes his
heavy water 'uff:loes and spends many days in his flooded paddy fields.
The Trinidadian is also a man following the teachings of the
Bh-g-vct Ghita :nd Romayana 7nd he is involved in c mixture of religion
Fecsts of Ramadan, Eid, Tadjahs, Diwoli go side by side with
Christmas and Corpus Christi and All Saints. Images of the Old
World Africa and Asia and Europe are still strong in Trinidad.
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In India on the sacred night of the full moon of October,
Kartik-Nathan pil .rims travel to thu great sacred rivers of Ganges,
Jamuna and Trivena to bathe in the waters and cla-nso their souls for
In Trinidad the Hindu pilgrim travels to Manzanilla and the
Coroni River to 7crform this rite th-t his forefathers have practised
for thousands of years.
Shango in Trinidad on the other hand calls ancestral spirits
Images of Europe come out in their architectural designs.
The architecture of the houses bordering the Queen's Park Savannah
show a bit of the glory that was Trinidad's colonial past.
There one sees the fabled Gingerbread tonsions of the French
Second Empire and imposing structures ran,-ing in style from Victor-
ian to Romanesque Italian Renaissance, Moorish and Nouveau German.
Old Fort George on Port-of-Spain's Western periphery with
its Signal House, designed by Kofi Nti, an Ashonti prince who come
to Trinidad as a ward of tho British Government, also tolls of this
past and its architecture.
Trinidad named by the. original Arcwaks "Lere" The Land
of the Humming Bird along with Tobago brings to CARIFESTA the
essence of their kaleidoscopic ethnic population....Their participa-
tion brings the rhythms of its people expressing themselves in tclocric
and amusing ways from Hindu festival to sophisticated fine arts, from
the tantalising sounds of steelband to Shongo and c:lypso.
It carves out a bit of the awe of the Feast of St. Rose of
Lima when the descendants of the original Amerindians come from all
over the Island to walk in solemn procession on August 29 round the
parish church in Arimo which is dedicated to her.
It will capture the beauty and sadness of the Trinidad folk
legend which tells of a whole tribe of Chayma Indians. These indigen-
ous peoples,who believed that man was created from the Silk Cotton
trees said to have been swallowed up by the Pitch Lake at La Brea
as a punishment by the gods for having eaten humming birds contain-
ing the souls of their ancestors.
Trinidad at CARIFESTA can only be exciting, interesting and
educational or it would not be Trinidad.