BEYOND the flashy revelry and the endless feteing of Carnival, there’s the cultural nugget that’s Canboulay.
This year’s re-enactment of the 1881 riot that decided the future of mas will begin at 5 a.m. on Picadilly Greens today.
Directed by Pearl Eintou Springer and titled “Kambule: The Street Pageant”, it promises to bring once again all the “bois, bottles and stones” that expressed the passion of those enslaved, who fought to hold on to their culture.
The change in the spelling of the name, which is commonly seen as “canboulay”, is as a result of documentation by Professor Maureen Warner-Lewis in 1991.
According to information provided by the Idakeda Group, which is hosting the play, Warner-Lewis has documented the Kikongo word “kambule” as referring to a “procession”.
“We have consequently removed the word from its French association, i.e., ‘Cannes Brulees’, normally rendered ‘Canboulay’,” an information sleeve on the play indicated.
The first play in 2000, was based on no less than an eyewitness account of the actual event by Frances Edwards, who related what she saw to Lennox Pierre and JD Elder, in 1954.
Since then, subsequent re-enactments have focused on various aspects of the event, including the strategy of the stickmen in 2002, which showed that they then had a clear battle plan for the defeat of their colonial nemesis, Captain Baker.
Baker had become a terror and chief among those looking to snatch away the slaves’ ancestral practices through terrorisation, beatings and arrests.
In 2005 to 2007, the Canboulay demonstrations had grown to attract up to two thousand spectators.
In 2009, the riot was re-enacted in San Fernando, using for the first time the Kikongo name, as decided by Springer.
By 2013, it was estimated that the play had attracted between three and four thousand spectators.
All are welcome to today’s newest installment of what is, without question, a piece of local history that will never be forgotten.