Sunday, 31 July 2011

WORLD PREMIERE - songs and drumming from Belmont Rada Community

Here’s the WORLD PREMIERE of songs and drumming from our Belmont Rada Community. Released in honour of Trinidad’s Emancipation Day and Benin’s Independence Day on August 1. Uncle Sedley is leading the singing. Thanks to Tasha for forwarding this treasure to us and cousin Tony for recording it.

Happy Emancipation Day!

Happy Emancipation Day! Emancipation Day in Trinidad on August 1 will commence with a “Drum Call‟ at 4:30a.m - prayers and libations to the ancestors - at the Piccadilly Greens, the site of the ancient Yoruba village and the All Stars Pan Yard. And yes, the Yoruba Village is our village with the plaque named after our Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine. We would love to have photos from the Drum Call. Please let us know if you’re attending and can be our roving reporter and photographer.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Toronto Caribbean Carnival

This weekend is our Toronto Caribbean Carnival. The parade will be held on Saturday morning. Machel will be here and many on us will see him perform live on Saturday night. We hope to have photos of the masqueraders and others very soon. Enjoy Coming Again and jump with us.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

6 Month Anniversary

This reunion project was launched on January 29th and it was our attempt to connect online with old, new and long lost relatives before we actually have a reunion.  But more importantly, we want to share our history and learn more together.  So on Thursday we’ll take a moment to celebrate our 6 month anniversary!  

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Take Me To Benin

So Tribe's theme for Carnival 2012 is "Take Me To ..." If we had our own section called Take Me To Benin, this is likely to me our African Queen costume. Do you love it?

Monday, 25 July 2011

60th Anniversary of Dudley Smith in London

Tuesday is the 60th anniversary of our cousin, father and grandfather to the Hoytes, Dudley Smith’s debut in London. Dudley was a member of the Trinidad All Percussion Steel Orchestra (TAPSO). He was one of the 12 best selected to represent Trinidad. This was the first time the steelband was played in Britain. They played calypsoes, f...olk songs and classical music. Dudley is acknowledged as one of the men who contributed to the early development of the pan. He was the first man to add rubber to the sticks used to beat the pan. Five-time ping pong (tenor) champion, he eventually moved to the Bahamas and recorded at least 2 albums.

Friday, 22 July 2011

There's no Place like Home

Those of us in Toronto and other cities I north eastern United States continue to suffer under extreme heat so today I’m wishing I was on my island under a waterfall. There’s no place like home!

Angelique Kidjo - Naima

Here is our Rada 'sister' from Benin, Angelique Kidjo, singing a very popular West African lullaby. Try playing it before your babies nap time and let us know how well it worked.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Male Slaves Returning as Revenants/Kouvito?

These are 2 pictures of ‘revenants’ (one coming back) or ‘kouvito’ in Fon.  They are mediums for the spirits of the dead. It is believed that many of the men taken away to the New World as slaves returned to Africa after they passed away as revenants.  Did our male ancestors return to Benin as revenants?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Nelson Mandela Day

Monday is Nelson Mandela’s birthday also known as Nelson Mandela Day. The UN urges us to devoted 67 minutes to make the world a better place in honour of the 67 years that Mandela dedicated to the world. Since charity begins at home what will you do to make life better for those closest to you?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Toronto Kiddies Carnival Tomorrow

In about 12 hours we’ll get to see how much Antoine our 9 little ones have in them at Toronto’s Kiddies Carnival. Photos will be posted on Saturday night. But in the interim enjoy this pic of Jameal Antoine (Uncle Sedley’s great grandson) in one of his many Junior King costumes.

Question on Facebook

There is still time to answer our question on Facebook: How familiar with Trinidad are you? Your input will help us determine our reunion activities. Click here:


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

All Roads Lead to Antoine Lane

 Kendall Millington

Dan Antoine

Here are 2 young Antoines in front of our street. Picture yourself here. In about a year from now, all roads lead to Antoine Lane, Belmont!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Sankofa - Go Back and Fetch

Sankofa is a Ghanaian slang that means we must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today. Some also interpret it to mean, no matter how far away one travels you must always return home. Another association is with the proverb it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten. The symbol of Sankofa is that of a bird whose head is faced in the opposite direction of its body (as above) or of a stylized heart shape. However Sankofa is interpreted, we know that one's past is an important to one's future. So in order to make the best of our future, we must visit our past. Back to Belmont!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Rada or Ewe-Fon

If you have African friends, you may already have noticed that the term Rada is not used and is unfamiliar to modern Africans as well as history and geography texts.  We would be more correctly called Ewe-Fon. Conversely, in Trinidad, no one would use Ewe-Fon to describe us. But a rose by any other name is still is a rose. So call us Rada or Ewe-Fon, we’re here to stay!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Rada Song - Angelique Kidjo

We are told by our Rada scholar, Kwaku Senah, that this song, Fifa, is definitional of the Rada culture and has a good number of Rada religious symbolisms. Angelique Kidjo is a 'sister' from Benin who now lives in New York.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Pascal Roberts, R.I.P.

Sadly we have lost another family member. Pascal Roberts, 73 years old, died on June 20th and was buried on the 27th. Pascal was a well-known national cricketer in the 1970s who represented Trinidad and the West Indies. He was the son of Dennis Roberts and grandson of Gaetan Antoine aka Pappy (see June 21 post).

Thursday, 7 July 2011

This is one of our favourite African Proverbs

This is one of our favourite African proverbs:

If we stand tall it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us. (Yoruba)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Escape from Belmont Police Station

The Africans in Trinidad were continually persecuted when they attempted to practice any form of their traditional ceremonies. In the 1800s there was a law that banned the beating of drums, chacs- chacs, etc. from 10 pm to 6 am unless police permission is obtained. There was one time that our relatives continued to beat the drums after 10 pm. The Belmont police arrived; they were confronted by one of the dancers who was promptly arrested. She later returned and ordered that the drumming continue. The police returned and was once again confronted by the same dancer. As soon as they saw her, they ran. Why? Because to this day no one knew how she escaped police custody!

Monday, 4 July 2011

What does Abojevi Zahwenu name means?

What does Abojevi Zahwenu name means? According to Kwaku Senah, University of the West Indies (pictured below) his name is loaded with historical and cultural data. Abojevi means the offspring of a ram. The ram is an important animal and symbol in vodun. Also, Zahwenu identifies him from Whydah (now Ouidah, Benin) and someone who worships the python.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

We are Africans

‎"We are not Africans because we are born in Africa, we are Africans because Africa is born in us."

Chester Higgins Jr., American photographer and author.

Cancelled - August 4, 2011 Sacrifice

Unfortunately due to travel conflicts the August 4, 2011 sacrifice has been cancelled. Hopefully, we see you all at the next sacrifice which will be held in January 2012. More details will follow in December.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Happy Pride!

On Sunday those on us who live in Toronto will be enjoying the Gay Pride Parade. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss vodun and homosexuality. The short answer is it’s complicated.  It’s perfectly acceptable in Haiti and there are even spirits devoted to gay men and lesbians. In Benin, however, it’s not. But this may be because of the strong influence of Christianity. The Rada Community in Belmont?  We found no written record but we say Happy Pride!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Congrats to the Class of 2011

Congratulations to the Class of 2011! All of the best as you embark on this new chapter in your life!

Zack (grandson of Empress Millington)

Janae (granddaughter of Empress Millington)

Tyra (great granddaughter of Sedley Antoine)

Savannah (great granddaughter of Sedley Antoine)
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