Thursday, 30 June 2011

Belmont - David Rudder

This is a more positive view of Belmont by our local boy David Rudder. Refer to the May 22 post to learn about our connection to Rudder. Enjoy!

Invitation - August 2011 Sacrifice

Please join us on Thursday, August 4, 2011. The day starts at 6:00 am with the animal sacrifice and of course stay for lunch. The day culminates with drumming and dancing from 7 - 10 pm.. Hope to see you there.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Cemetery Good Enough for a Pauper

The cemetery wasn’t appropriate at one time, but it was good enough when the government needed a burial place for a pauper.

As you can also see from this document, Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine owed taxes on 5 properties which were forfeited to the crown after his death. His wife sold a piece of her own property to pay the back taxes. Thanks to her selfless act most of that property is still in the family’s hands today.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Attempt to Close Family Cemetery

You may remember that we have a private family cemetery. This newspaper article shows the city’s eventually unsuccessful attempt to close the cemetery. The writer made it sound like we are burying relatives in our backyard rather than the final resting place for our relatives. Can’t keep the Antoines down!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Executive Producer-Henry Antoine, The Best of Gemini Brass

Listen to this sample of a 2 volume CD produced by Henry Antoine – The Best of Gemini  Brass.

Here's the review from the Trinidad Guardian:

Wild nostalgic ride from Gemini Brass
Say “Gemin Brass,” and one time you mind flashes back to that glorious period of the late sixties/early seventies when brass bands ruled the roost. Today brass bands are scarce like low food prices. However, there’s something to cheer about, the Best of Gemini Brass, a CD that’s worth waiting for. And mind you a double CD to boot. Any disc jockey worth his salt, whether retro or contemporary, should have this 16-track CD. Oh my gosh, it sweeter than a pig tail oil down, as Danny Ming (leader, guitarist and songwriter) and the boys take you on a wild, nostalgic ride. Executive producer Henry Antione deserves some kudos for pulling from the archives this stunning pelau of music. Back in the day bands were afraid of Gemini Brass when they clashed, either in fetes or Brassorama. Musicians used to be shaking in the shoes. Gemini Brass toured the Caribbean and North America extensively. The band was formed in Belmont in 1965.

The selection of vocalist Eddie Charles of Traffik fame is excellent and blends well with the music. All the oldies are there, Lady love, I Believe In you, I Just want to love you, Higher and Higher, Get up on Something, Woman Woman (Cro Cro), Her Majesty (Calypso Rose) and others. Eddie does a magnificent job on two Shadow (Winston Bailey) oldies, Carnival Scenery and Without Love. Look man, buy this CD recorded at Sound Canada, Don Mills, Ontario and Studio Six, Montreal, Quebec.
As usual, this double CD get full marks for presentation.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Young Antoines at Toronto's Kiddies Carnival

You may recall that this family has a strong background in Carnival. We start young and many of our little ones have won titles. Here’s little Sedley Antoine (II) in 2 costumes when he captured Junior King titles. The tradition continues - in 3 weeks 9 little Antoines and 6 friends will be participating in Toronto’s Kiddies Carnival with Saldenah’s band. One 17 month old has been practising wotless moves for several weeks.  But will she perform when it counts?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Why and How Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine left Dahomey (Benin)?

Most researchers report that Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine left Dahomey (Benin) involuntarily as a result of a failed military operation. The following is part of an article written by Gerard A. Besson describing why and how Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine left Dahomey (Benin).  We know he loves women, is there a woman involved? Read on …

The movement of the ship was more than he could stand. It overwhelmed the fear, the disorientation and the certainty that his life was now forever altered.
The movement of the ship dominated his thinking. It affected him with the terrorising sensation of perpetually dying. The motion of the ship formed the central aspect of an association of ideas that remained with him all his life, whenever he smelled vomit, unwashed bodies, and odours emitted by humans when they are convinced of their own imminent death.
The permanent alteration of his life has occurred without warning. This itself was highly unusual, inasmuch as he was albeit his young age a highly respected member of diviners.
The circumstances leading to his capture by the merchant Ahmed Abdou had arranged themselves as the result of his preoccupation with clandestine encounters with the merchant’s niece, which had turned into an obsession. The indignity of his capture and subsequent sale to the Portuguese slaver had now placed him in this perilous box, the ship, upon this vast and mindless ocean on a journey of no return.  In the midst of never-ending motion, explosions not dissimilar to thunder cracked the sky.  The slaver was being attacked by a British Man-o-War! The shackled slaves were marched up onto the heaving deck and with kicks and curses loaded into long boats that were bobbing and spinning upon this ever shifting body of water to be taken to another, even more enormous ship.
Already, the Portuguese slaver was dropping to the stern of the British Man-o-War, seeming smaller by the second on the vast bosom of wetness. The British ship now set its sails for Trinidad.
Several hundred Africans were thus liberated on the high sea by Great Britain during the 1850s, when that country ran a blockade against the Portuguese slave traders. The slave trade had been abolished by the English in 1807, and the slaves had become fully set free in 1838. Now, it became an economic necessity for the British to force other nations to do away with slavery as well, since sugar and other imports from slave territories like Brazil were flooding the market at much cheaper prices than from the British colonies.
Among the hapless Africans, one stood out and proceeded to make his mark on the lives of many in Trinidad. He took the name of Robert, or Jean Antoine. He was, however, known as Papa Nannee or Mah Nannee.  A significant leader, he created a new home for his tribe, the Rada people, who had found their way to this island.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Two More Outside Children

It certainly seems like Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine took care of his ‘outside’ children.  This document shows that he left a parcel of land in Laventille for 2 of them, James and Phillip Antoine.  The document also shows that Robert’s wife did give the land to James and Phillip. Unfortunately, the kids couldn’t pay the taxes and eventually sold the land for less than what it was worth.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Pappy - One of the Other Children of Robert Antoine

This is the birth certificate of one of Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine’s ‘other’ children, Gaetan Antoine.  

Gaetan was more popularly known as Pappy. Note that Robert would have been 84 years old when Pappy was born in 1884! Pappy’s mother was Bella and described as African on the birth certificate. He was the father of Ernest, Matthew, Boysie, Nathaniel and Dennis Roberts, as well as Francilla, Gabriel, Evelyn and Simion Antoine. There was a further 1 or 2, including one born blind, who died as children. Pappy was also a hubono (high priest).

Monday, 20 June 2011

Vodun Art Exhibit in France

Take a sneak peek of vodun art at the Cartier Foundation in France. The art is from the private collection of Jacques Kerchache, known as the 'Indiana Jones' of the art world.  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Henry Antoine's Family Photo Album

If Henry Antoine had a family photo album it would look something like this.
Click here


Today is also Juneteenth or African American Emancipation Day which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Slaves were officially emancipated on January 1, 1863 but it took 2.5 years  (June 19, 1865) for the Union soldiers to get to Galveston, Texas to announce that the war had ended and the slaves were free. Today there are many celebrations all over the US marking the end of slavery.  Trinidad’s Emancipation Day is August 1st. More on that will come in August

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day to the new dads, the veteran dads and all the loving men in our children’s lives. Hope you are surrounded by love, laughter and happiness.  Let’s also have a moment of silence to those dads who are no longer with us.

Two New Babies

‎6th generation Antoines.



Friday, 17 June 2011

Vodun and the Catholic Church

Vodun has strong roots in Catholic faith. Similarities include belief in a single God, observance of holidays celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, existence of good and evil spirits, existence of saints, ritual sacrifice, symbolic consumption of flesh and blood, and belief in an afterlife. Furthermore, in 1860 the church officially recognized and accepted the practice of vodun in a treaty called the Concordat of 1860.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

New Photo of Henry and Camilla Antoine

New photo of Papa (Henry Antoine) and Mamie (Camilla Antoine). Mamie's dress was made by her daughter Empress.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Antoine Trustee Fund

Here are 2 documents we found to support the fact that there was a Rada bank or fund that continued until the late 1940s. The first document shows the members of what was called the ‘Antoine Trustee Fund’.  Recognize any names?  

The second was titled the Forewords, thanking God for the gift that was “sincerely delivered to Amorra Antoine.”

Monday, 13 June 2011

New Relative - Hou Quervee aka John Cooper

As reported in the above book:
Abojevi Zahwenu /Robert Antoine had a brother named Hou Quervee who came to Trinidad in 1860. His English name was John Cooper.  Hou was descrined as a high priest of the community. In 1871 Hou, like his brother 3 years earlier, was convicted of obeah.  Remember that obeah was defined as “the assumption of supernatural powers for the purpose of making money”.  He was sentenced to 20 lashed. Hou appealed successfully and was awarded $10 per lash.  In 1872 he petitioned for a larger compensation.  Hou’s legal fees were reported to be quite expensive, but was covered by the Rada bank (refer to May 15th post). He did not receive any further compensation. But $200 in 1871 would have been a substantial sum of money, for example, in 1868 Abojevi paid $135 the compound that is large enough for 9 or 10 houses.  Hou died in 1877.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Antoine Vaccine Update

Here’s proof that the grandchildren of Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine were vaccinated.  

Modern medicine is good for somethings!

Voodoo and Vaccines in Benin

Vaccines continue to be an issue in modern day Benin. Take the time to watch the video and support the cause. 

You may remember that our Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine was a traditional healer. Would he be supportive of children getting vaccinated?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Rada Smallpox Prevention?

More research, more library visits reveal the following:

There was a smallpox epidemic in the 19th century and millions of people around the world died. The disease reached Trinidad in 1871-72 and the Belmont Rada community performed a ceremony to prevent the disease according to the Chronicle newspaper.  The newspaper editor T.W. Carr (any relation to Andrew Carr, author of A Rada Community in Trinidad?) described a sacrifice of fowls and goats in the morning with a feast about midday or afternoon, followed by singing and dancing into the night.
According to the article, during the feast, we sat in a circle around a big bowl containing the blood from the animals sacrificed. The bowl was covered with a white cloth. Around the bowl were large dishes with the meat from the animals as well as dishes with vegetables. Each person took a small amount of food and said some words in “Rada”. This was supposed to be a “peace offering to Mumbo Jumbo, or whatever the name of their particular jumby or deity.”
One must read this with a healthy dose of scepticism especially after the Chronicle editor mentioned the deity Mumbo Jumbo.  Nonetheless, we are not sure if the community was successfully protected against smallpox. But we are grateful that small has been eradiate from the world and we longer have to make a peace offering to Mumbo Jumbo J.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

4 am in Belmont

What do you think of this poem, especially those of you who live in Belmont?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Benin's Sacred Forest

Here’s a video of Benin’s Sacred Forest in Ouidah (where Abojevi was born).  The forest has a number of statutes of vodun spirits and practitioners.  Legend has it that centuries ago King Kpasse fled his enemies by escaping into the forest and turned himself into a tree called the Iroko tree. You’ll see Legba, with his large erection, Abojevi’s favourite god.  Abojevi also was a fan of the serpent god and would love the python temple. Remember our community was also called Dangbe comme (serpent community). You’ll also see Shango, god of thunder with the horns and red arrow in his mouth. Hopefully we’ll get to see the sacred forest ourselves one day.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Yoruba, Rada and Orisha

                                                                Yoruba People
Many of us are confused with the terms Yoruba, Rada and Orisha. So we’ll attempt to explain it. Yoruba refers to a number of semi-independent people loosely linked by geography, language, history and religion mainly found in southwest Nigeria and Benin. Traditional Yoruba city-states were sub-divided into over 25 complex, centralized kingdoms. Each city-state has its own interpretation of history and religious traditions.
Rada is part of Vodun. The name is derived from the god Vodun of the West African Yoruba people who lived in Benin (formely) Dahomey. Vodun, like Christianity, is a religion of many traditions. Each group follows a different spiritual path and worships a slightly different pantheon of spirits, called Loa. The word means "mystery" in the Yoruba language. There are hundreds of minor spirits. The minor spirits which originated from Dahomey are called Rada.
An Orisha is a spirit which reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Yoruba Village Documentary

Yoruba Village documentary started filming in Port-of-Spain on May 12th. Read the story published in the Guardian on June 1. Click here.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Portrait of Trinidad

What came before Benjai’s ‘Trini’ and David Rudder’s ‘Trini 2 de bone’?  ‘Portrait of Trinidad’ by Mighty Sniper. Do you like?

Daaga Part 2

Daaga’s war chant was: Dangkarree au fey (Come to plunder, come to slay). While the crowd responded: Oluu werrei au lay (We are ready to obey). Daaga was charged and sentenced to death on August 14th. He was excuted on August 16, 1837. It's reported that Daaga was a slave dealer. After he sold a group of Yoruba captives to the Portuguese, the ship’s crew lured him aboard under the pretence of paying him but placed him in irons instead. The ship was liberated by the British Navy and brought to Trinidad. He later enlisted in the British West Indian Regiment. Photo of regiment.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Daaga/Donald Stewart

Trinidad Rada is the subject of a Ph.D. thesis nearing completion by Emmanuel Kwaku Senah, a GhanaĆ­an student at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. Kwaku is tracing its roots back to the ‘homeland’ and its transfer to and adjustment in Trinidad. According to Kwaku, several groups of EweFoh entered Trinidad just before and after Emancipation in 1838. They either introduced Rada or strengthened of it in Trinidad. One EweFoh individual was Daaga or Donald Stewart, his British name. He was a soldier in a Black Regiment, the First West Indian Regiment. Daaga led a Mutiny against the British Colonial State on the night of 17 June, 1837 at a station in St. Joseph, the capital of Spanish Trinidad. According to Edward Joseph’s contemporary History of Trinidad (London, 1838), Daaga led his fellow mutineers, drawn apparently from groups other than EweFoh, to the chant of a “a war song”.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

La Rue Rada & Antoine #2

So by now you all know that the street that borders the compound is called Antoine Lane, also the street next to it is called Antoine #2 in tribute to the family. Our research also discovered that in 1841 when Belmont was called Freetown in reference to the free slaves who settled in the area, there was a street called La Rue Rada. Since we were the only Rada community we’re fairly certain that La Rue Rada was also named after us.
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