Learning the art of drumming, Capoeira (African martial arts) stilt walking, calypso and so much more, youngsters from all over Trinidad and Tobago came out in their numbers on Monday for the annual Youth Day at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village, at Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain.
Upon entering the Village, the bright green, red, yellow and black created a colourful backdrop that was easily distinguishable from the roadside, while the rhythmic sounds of drumming and pan beckoned you to come inside. Once inside, hundreds of booths showcasing, African wear, artifacts, jewelry, food and other knick-knacks littered the area from one side of the village to the next.
Following the squeals of delight coming from children at various booths in the village, the Express got the chance to speak with Anna Maria Mora, one of the teachers at the stilt-walk booth.
She said, "What I teach the kids is the importance of balance in your life. Finding ways to balance your school work and playtime, chores and everything else; through the stilt-walking exercise they understand the importance of practice and not to give up on something that they may not be good at initially."
Mora has been coming to the Emancipation Village for several years and says she really enjoys working with the children and helping them bring balance in their lives.
Jody Murray and her brother Joshua tried their hand at walking on stilts that were approximately two or three feet off the ground. After several attempts of trying to maintain their balance and walk a few steps, the pair was successful.
By midday the sun's intense rays blazed down on the village. Many patrons took the opportunity to visit some of the food and beverage booths around. One such booth that drew a crowd was Omeg Delight named after the owner Omega Noel. Selling anything from sugar cake, nutcake, mango, guava, cheese, kurma and a variety of preservatives, there was just about everything to satisfy a sweet tooth.
By 1 p.m., the weather changed and the much needed rain instantly cooled the heated atmosphere. The Capoeira booth seemed to be a favourite as several children got the opportunity to learn this form of African martial arts. Brandon Balfour, 3, giggled as the Capoeira teacher, Sekhet "Azulao Manganga" Neb Amunwah helped him do a somersault.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary, the Emancipation Support Committee this year embraced the theme — "Forever Forward, Reflection, Resistance and Renewal".
Executive director of the Emancipation Support Committee, Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada said, "What the village allows us to do is to showcase a number of activities that cannot all fit in one day.
"We see Emancipation as not just a celebration but an opportunity to assist in the development of people and an opportunity for them to showcase their talents and skills," she added.
According to Uzoma-Wadda
this year's theme she felt was very appropriate and coincided well with the 20th anniversary of the Emancipation Support Committee and the country's 50th anniversary of Independence, which we will celebrate in a few weeks' time.
She said, "As a nation we want to keep moving forward; to reflect so we can learn from the mistakes we have made; we have to be resistant — that means we have to continue to be resourceful and determined and committed to all the qualities that will keep us pressing forward; and finally we should renew ourselves. It is good for both the organisation and the country."
Today, Emancipation Day, activities begin with a Drum Call at 4.30 a.m. prayers and libation to the ancestors at the Piccadilly Greens, the site of the ancient Yoruba Village and the All Stars Pan Yard, Duke Street, Port of Spain
This will be followed at 8.30 a.m. with the annual Kamboule or street procession from the Treasury Building, Brian Lara Promenade to the Lidj Yasu Omowale Village, Queen's Park Savannah. There will be cultural performances all day at the Village and admission is free. The day will end with a flambeau procession to the All Stars Pan Yard, Duke Street, Port of Spain from 7.30 p.m.