Emancipation Village reopens after two years

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Trinidad’s Lisa Mc Clashie dances with Ghana’s Sankofa drummers at last year’s opening of the Lidj Yasu Omawale Emancipation Village at the Queen’s Park Savannah. Photo by Sureash Cholai

The Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village made a triumphant return to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Friday.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell, along with executive chair of the Emancipation Support Committee of TT (ESCTT) Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada and the committee’s director of regional and Pan African affairs Khafra Kambon, toured the village on its openng day.

Uzoma-Wadada, said, “Everybody was so excited to come back out again. The space with the tables is a new feature we have introduced for those entrepreneurs who can’t afford a whole bit and we see they are very well represented.”

Those gathered were also entertained by artistes such as National Poetry Slam champ and spoken-word performer Derron Sandy. The Belmont Freetown Folk Performing Arts Company also entertained with drumming and dance.

There were over 100 entrepreneurs at this year’s village. People visiting this year’s village can find African-themed clothing, hair and body oils, food, art and plants.Some of the village’s entrepreneurs said they were happy to be at the village.

Queena Edwards, representing Fresh Styles, a company offering various African-themed clothing, said, “It’s nice to finally be back in the village, to be interacting with people, seeing familiar faces, as well as just celebrating Emancipation.”

She added that this year’s Emancipation Day is extra special, in light of the covid19 pandemic.

“We got through the pandemic and that is something to celebrate. It’s been two years and to finally be back out celebrating, it’s a really great feeling.”

Other entrepreneurs such as Christopher Julian of Bezaleel Designs, see it as a fantastic opportunity for business growth.

He said, “This is the first time my company is launching so big. Normally we just do online sales on a small scale. I see this as an opportunity to come to the forefront.”

He expressed his desire to make a positive difference in the community, as he believes he offers a unique product. Bezaleel Designs offers printed clothing and teacups with customised designs.

“Apart from the African wear that you would see rampant, what I do is African print as well as customised print, in terms of glow-in-the-dark fluorescent prints.”