Honouring the ancestors
Among African drummers, the names of the Biddeau brothers, Andrew and Jeffrey, stand tall.
To honour their contribution and to keep their legacy alive, three agencies are collaborating to present the second Biddeau Drum Festival: the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) of UWI, St Augustine, the Eastern Emancipation Committee and the Afro-Caribbean Drummers Association. The Biddeau Drum Symposium will comprise the final event of the Drum Festival with the theme: 'Honouring our Ancestors'.
Reminiscing on the lives of his uncles, Andrew and Jeffrey, nephew Henry Alexander spoke recently of the family's culture:
"They were brought up in a family of drummers and dancers; it is a culture that they were born into and this is something that will be carried on in the family."
He lamented the absence of documentation about the contributions and history of the Biddeaus who are recognised as national cultural icons: "Andrew was a drummer extraordinaire from the age of 14 and performed with many famous cultural artistes. If you try to research the history of Andrew and Jeffrey there is limited information that can be accessed."
Scheduled within the period of Emancipation celebrations, the Biddeau Drum Festival is designed to highlight and help preserve African drum traditions in Trinidad and Tobago and educate the public about the significance of these traditions worldwide.
The Drum Symposium, the festival's finale event, includes a panel presentation about the instrument and its significance in Africa and the African Diaspora.
Wendell Berkeley will focus on nation drumming.
The central theme of the symposium will underscore Kemi Somorin's presentation, with a focus on the significance of the drum to African (Yoruba) people, and the role of the drum in their spiritual and social life. Cristo Adonis' presentation will highlight the types of drums used by the indigenous people with an emphasis on the spiritual context.
This Symposium will be hosted by DCFA, UWI on August 4 at 9.30 a.m. at The Open Campus Auditorium, Gordon Street, St Augustine, with feature speaker Fidelia Graand-Galon, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Republic of Suriname to Trinidad and Tobago.
For details on the symposium contact DCFA at 663-2141/645-1955 or email Marissa.Brooks@sta.uwi.edu.