THE Emancipation Support Committee of TT (ESCTT) will recognise the contribution of renowned drummer and panman, Everald “Redman” Watson, and the talented student, Safiya Paul, at this year’s Yoruba Village Drum Festival.
The festival, in its 11th annual cycle, is in tribute to the ancestors of the Yoruba Village and, for the first time, will be hosted as a virtual event Saturday.
Watson and Paul are from the Yoruba Village community, The Yoruba Village, which is synonymous with east Port of Spain, includes Belmont, Gonzales, Morvant, Beetham Estate, Sea Lots and Laventille.
Watson will receive the 2020 Keeper of the Tradition Award, which is given annually to someone from the Yoruba Village community, who has worked diligently to preserve and develop African cultural traditions in the community. Redman, the name by which he is popularly known, is an internationally-renowned drummer, percussionist and panman who was born and grew up in Belmont. His more than 40-year career began when he participated in community blockoramas and the Best Village competitions, said a media release. He has performed with all the major national dance companies, choirs, and theatre companies. He has also performed with top artistes including Ella Andall, 3canal, Andre Tanker, Machel Montano and David Rudder. Redman has travelled and performed in 32 countries including throughout the Caribbean, North and South America, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Lebanon, and Wales.
Within the Yoruba village community, he has been a member of BP Renegades steel orchestra for 36 years, during which time he also served as captain of the band. As a Keeper of the Tradition Redman’s work and contribution is significant in the communities as he can be seen on his drum on Emancipation Day, at African-naming days, weddings and Orisha feasts. His work with young people in communities and schools is testament of his concern for youth development and commitment to ensure that the traditions are passed on to the next generation, the release said.
Youth awardee Paul, who is a form four student at El Dorado East Secondary School, will receive the award in commemoration of the United Nations International Day of the African Child. The Beetham Gardens resident was selected based on her remarkable achievements in culture, sport, and academics, the release said. At school, Paul has received medals for her performance in drama, music, and history. She says history is her favourite subject as she is interested in knowing and understanding the origins of her culture. Paul is also a member of her school’s netball team.
She is very active on the cultural front and is a senior player with the Desperadoes Youth Steel Orchestra and is one of its youngest female pannists to play the double seconds pan on both the stage and road sides, the release said. Paul began dancing when she was three and has performed with Marcia Charles Dance Company, the Malick Folk Performers and now with the San Juan South Cultural Organisation. She has performed at Best Village competitions, the Yoruba Village Drum Festival and the Camboulay re-enactment.
The Yoruba Village was named after the Yoruba-speaking population who resided there from the 19th century, at which time the community was known as Yoruba Village and Yoruba Town. The Yoruba people, who were rescued from the ships of British, France and Spanish plunderers, following the abolition of the slave trade, were brought to that part of the city of Port of Spain where they resided as free men and women. They came originally, mainly from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin. Today, the only semblance of the town’s history and existence is the Yoruba Village Square.
The release said that “despite the persistent efforts to deculturalise the community many of the rich customs and tradition of the Yoruba remain in the Yoruba Village. Indeed, it is from within the bowels of this community of highly-spiritual and inventive Yoruba people that the steelband, calypso and many aspects of our Carnival traditions originated.”
In addition to drumming, the event will showcase tamboo bamboo, pan, dance, song and rapso. However, the format for this year’s celebration will be different as a result of the “new normal” in the fight against covid19. Since congregating in large numbers is still restricted, the festival will take the form of a virtual event, the release said. The ESCTT has collaborated with UWI Open Campus and UWI TV to ensure that people across TT, the Caribbean, Africa, and its diaspora can view and enjoy this special festival.
On Saturday, the event will premiere on the ESCTT Facebook platform at 5 pm. The hour-and-half-long event will also be available for viewing on all UWI TV Channels across the Caribbean and on the websites of ESCTT, UWI TV and UWI Open Campus.