The Government is committed to finding a permanent home for the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC), Multiculturalism Minister, Winston "Gypsy" Peters has said.
Peters was speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village at the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Thursday night.
Peters assured the ESC that the People's Partnership Government through his Ministry will ensure a suitable space for the ESC for the celebration of Emancipation in due course. He, however, urged the ESC that it must make the first step towards this and then the Government will step in and lend support.
Peters also said he remains committed to the support of not only the celebration of Emancipation, but of all that is special to the different peoples of Trinidad and Tobago. He said that as Minister responsible for culture, he remains committed and focused on the mandate of promoting equity of the nation's cultural diversity.
"The Emancipation Support Committee is encouraged to continue its pioneering work of educating the nation on African culture in the context of Emancipation Day. The Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism pledges its continued support for future initiatives of the Emancipation Support Committee and it is hoped that the 2011 Emancipation Day activities (will) be bigger and better than ever," Peters said.
Chairman of the ESC Khafra Kambon said he was especially overjoyed to be standing in the Grand Stand for the opening of the Village, which he said came too close to not being there. He said he was thankful that the situation was resolved in time for the venue to be made ready for the opening and is hopeful the ESC would never again be in such a quandary.
Kambon thanked Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Peters, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and everyone else who rallied to ensure the Emancipation Village remained at the Grand Stand. Kambon invited the nation at large to visit the Village over the weekend into Emancipation Day on Monday to learn more about the history of Trinidad and Tobago from the African perspective as well as to see what the Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians have achieved since Emancipation.
The ESC had been granted use of the Grand Stand for the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village but was informed by the NCC just days before the opening that the Grand Stand was no longer available due to safety concerns over flooding and the resultant electrical problems that placed people at risk.
After some wrangling between the ESC and NCC and a walk-through of the facility by engineers from the ESC, NCC, Fire Service and safety wardens, a decision was taken to immediately repair the venue to make it safe for use by the ESC.
A cultural presentation followed the official opening ceremony, which comprised prayers and libations by elders of the Afro-Trinbago community. There was a special performance by the Something Positive Performance Company from Brooklyn, which was founded by Trinidadian rapso artiste/poet/dancer Cheryl Byron, who passed away several years ago. Also performing were Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, Bishop Anstey Choir, Dayo Bejide Trio and Black Stalin.