Hey Toronto area Antoines here’s your chance to see the North American premiere of Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle on September 7 (Studio Theatre, York Quay Centre, 235 Queens Quay West). At 6 pm there will be a free opening fete and awards ceremony. The screening will begin at 8 pm and followed by a Q&A with Rose live and in person. The film was set in Trinidad and Tobago, New York, Paris and Benin. It was also showed at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19th. Tickets are $25.
A people's art is the genesis of their freedom – slogan of Notting Hill's indoor carnival from 1959.
The carnival was started by a fellow Trinidadian named Claudia Jones (nee Cumberbatch). Claudia was born in Belmont in 1915, immigrated to the US in 1924. She joined the Communist Party in 1936 (illegal at that time), the FBI started a file on her in 1942 and she was eventually convicted and deported to the UK (much to Trinidad’s relief).
She continued her activism in the UK. In 1959 she organized the 1st of 6 indoor carnivals (with the above slogan) as a direct result of the Notting Hill riots. She did not live to see the evolution of the indoor carnivals into the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival. She died in 1964 at 49 and today a plaque honours her contribution to Notting Hill Carnival. Notting Hill Carnival held today and tomorrow (under more security than the recent Royal wedding). And tomorrow our beautiful and qualified June Robinson will be representing the Antoines at the Leeds parade!
Dedicated to the 28 Antoines who are on lockdown due to the State of Emergency and the 11 in the US who are also on lockdown due to Hurricane Irene. Please be safe and follow all official instructions. Remember we already predicted curfew babies and now we’ll add Hurricane Irene babies. Enjoy Barry White!
Given the current state of affairs in our beloved Trinidad and Tobago, it’s a perfect time to note our 6 degrees of separation with national security. It’s complicated but former Minister of National Security Martin R. Joseph’s mother had 3 children with our Uncle Kellman. So I guess we can call him a step-cousin
This is not Adam and Eve or the Big Bang theory. It's the Vodun creation story*.
MAWU-LISA, the Great Creator, is a being with two faces. The first is MAWU, a Goddess, whose eyes are the moon. The other is LISA, a God, whose eyes are the sun. MAWU is calm and cool like the moon, and LISA, is hot and ruthless like the sun.
Since MAWU-LISA is both God and Goddess, MAWU became pregnant and had a total of 9 children; including 2 pairs of twins (Dahomey/Benin has the highest percentage of twins in the world). The first to be born were twins, a God named DA ZODJI, and a Goddess called NYOHWE ANANU. The second birth was SOGBO, who like his parent was God and Goddess in one. The third birth was also twins, a God, AGBE, and a Goddess, NAETE. The fourth to be born was AGE, a God. The fifth GU, also a God: GU is all body. He has no head, instead of a head, a great sword is coming out of His neck. His trunk is of stone. The sixth birth was not a spiritual being, but DJO, air, and is needed to create the breath of life. The seventh to be born was LEGBA; MAWU said LEGBA (this was our ancestor’s favourite) was to be her spoiled child God, because he was the youngest.
One day the Goddess face of MAWU-LISA assembled all the children in order to divide the kingdom of the Universe. To the first twins, DA ZODJI and NYOHWE ANANU, She gave all the riches and told them to go and inhabit the earth. She said the earth was for them. MAWU said to SOGBO, that he was to remain in Heaven, because he was both God and Goddess. She told AGBE and NAETE to go and inhabit the sea and command the waters. To AGE, she gave command of the animals and birds and told him to live in the bush (forest) as a hunter. To GU, MAWU said he was her strength, and that was why he was not given a head like the others. GU is a blacksmith God who makes weapons for war and tools to build. Thanks to him, the earth would not always remain wild bush. GU taught men about warfare and how to build houses and farms. MAWU told DJO to live in space between the earth and sky. He was assigned the life-span of man. Thanks to him also, his brothers and sisters would be invisible. This is why another name for Vodun (Gods and Goddesses) is DJO the Invisible Ones.
AGBE & NAETE
When MAWU said this to the children, she gave the DA ZODJI and NYOHWE ANANU the language which was to be used on earth, and took away their memory of the language of Heaven. She gave SOGBO the language he would speak, and remove the memory of the parent language. The same was done for AGBE and NAETE, AGE, and GU. But DJO was given the language of men.
Next she said to LEGBA, "You are my youngest child, and as you are spoiled, and have never known punishment, I cannot turn you over to your brothers. I will keep you with me always. Your work will be to visit all the Kingdoms, and to give me an account of what happens." So LEGBA knows all the languages known to his brothers and sisters. He also knows the language MAWU speaks and LEGBA is MAWU's spokesman. If one of the siblings wishes to speak, he/she must give the message to LEGBA, for they no longer know how to address MAWU-LISA. That is why LEGBA is everywhere and probably who our Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine favours this diety.
We, like you, are worried about the ‘declaration of the limited state of emergency’ in Trinidad and how that will affect our family union next August. At this time it’s too early to tell, but we’ll be paying very close attention to the situation. None of us want to be in an unsafe environment, but remember this is for 15 days, but will be reviewed daily. Fingers crossed …
A number of you have asked when the reunion will be held? Remember to save the week of July 30, 2012 for the family. We posted a tentative schedule on August 2. Here's the update - the week will culminate with a well-deserved retreat to Pigeon Point, Tobago for those we want more of the Antoine love.
Soca Warriors take on India's Blue Tigers in a friendly match on Sunday as they prepare for the World Cup. We don't have any relatives on the team, but we do have some talent in the family. I won't mention any names because I will forget someone, but you know who you are!
The current UK riots reminded me of the Benin expedition of 1897 by the UK. The British troops captured, looted and burned Benin City, bringing an end to the kingdom. Palaces of chiefs were looted and destroyed, and finally on the third day the king’s palace was deliberately set ablaze Most of the booty was retained by the expedition but about 2500 religious artifacts and artworks were sent to England. The art was later auctioned in Paris to raise funds to pay for the expedition. Most of the Benin bronzes went to purchasers in Germany, but a large portion is in London at the British Museum. And no, the British government will not return the art because as Cameron said “it would set a dangerous precedent for other priceless cultural items in the British Museum.” Remember some believe our Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine was a prince and therefore his family may have lost art as well.
A couple of weeks ago 1 relative suggested that we sell CDs of our Belmont Rada music as a fundraiser for the family reunion. However, only 3 people indicated an interest. But before we ditch this fundraising idea let us know if you’re interested in purchasing approximately 40 minutes of great drumming. Click for a sample
We don’t have a nickname for her because she defies words. She dances through life and her house is cramped with love. She always has time for joy, yet is a champion of the underdog and troubled. She always has money for fun. Cool mom of 3 and even cooler grandmother of 2. She is a connector and that’s why 90% of you are on the reunion page. She is celebrating a birthday on Wednesday. Recognize this face?
The Wongs have their own cocktail, but we’ll do one better. The next 4 family members who like the page will be our guest for cocktails at Prime Restaurant in Port-of-Spain. This is also a formal invitation for the 2 new members for cocktails, Cordell Birdman Warren and Kevon Terry Hoyte.
I admit that envy is not a good trait but I’m jealous of the Canadian Wongs. They meet every 3 years and rotate cities. They gathered in Toronto this weekend for a family reunion and 1100 of them attended! Giving them the honour of having the largest such event in history. They drank their own cocktail (contest was held) and was even given their own coat of arms. And we can’t even get 100 Antoines online! If you are still browsing on the page, but haven’t liked it, please do so today. If you already like us, ask your other relatives to also like us. Let’s try to get at least 100 Antoines by the end of this week!
One translation of the word Vodun is “rest to draw the water,” from the Fon verb vo “to rest” and dun “to draw water.” Therefore remain calm when facing difficulties in one’s path. In Vodun we are encouraged to take time for reflection. For example, local women sit quietly by the side of the spring or river before collecting the daily water. Take the time this weekend to rest and reflect.
Marcus Garvey who is viewed as a prophet of Jah, was a keen proponent of the back to Africa movement urging us to return to our ancestral homeland of Africa. However, Haile Selassie said that "we must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community."
Kenny (Empress’ grandson) hugging Portia (Miss Sybil’s last child).
This is not our 'tribe' but here's how one tribe in Benin, the Bessoribe, distinguish themselves through scarification. Let's not judge. Keep an open mind and think of why tribal scarification was and is important to those who practice it. Be forwarned, it's bloody.
Today we’ll continue with Tasha’s research. If we are descendants of the Pedah or Wxedah group, you should note that this tribe has distinguished tribal scars: 10 scars - 2 on each cheek, 2 on the forehead and 2 on each temple. We found no mention of Abojevi having any tribal scars. But found one record of his wife, Dovi, which stated that “her face was marked in the genuine African way.” Anyone willing to get their tribal scars?
Thanks to Tasha’s research, here’s another interpretation of Abojevi Zahwenu’s name. It should be AGBODJEVI ZANWXENOU and is a greeting typical of an ethnic group called Pedah or Wxédah. The whole praise is "Dèdon Agbodjèvi Zanwxènou" and it was an expression of respect and honour. DEDON AGBODJEVI means the one who has the power of saying prayers (in other words priest or priestess) to the deity Agbo.ZANXWENOU means a person from Zanwhe, a small village in Ouidah. We can translate the phrase as “the priest of the deity AGBO from Zanwhe” adding support to the theory that our ancestor was from the ‘priestly’ class.
Looking at the Emancipation photos, it’s obvious that participants wear African outfits. We are able to trace our roots back to Dahomey (now Benin). Dahomeans were once described as “all lean and lank, and all supremely hideous. They wear nose and ear rings of metal and as little clothing as decency permits.” Next year Emancipation Day will be right in the middle of our family reunion and we should attend the procession wearing as little as possible. Who’s with us?
Amazon Warriors (see April 8th post). Photo taken before 1900.
Happy birthday Uncle Clifford aka Cocky! Wishing you all the very best on your 93rd birthday on Saturday. Uncle Clifford currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife Evelyn. Here’s this branch of the family tree: Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine → Louisa Antoine→ Anthony Baptiste (photo posted on March 18)→ Clifford Baptiste
Our ceremonies are usually 2 days long, starting on Thursday, a sacred day for us, and continuing on Friday. Yesterday we focussed on the food at the August ceremony. Today, we’ll briefly discuss the drumming. The drums in the morning begin around 6 and finish at 8 am. The evening drums typically start at 7 and end at 10 pm. But let the drums speak for themselves.
In the good old days we would be celebrating the August ceremony on the first Thursday of August – and this year that is August 4th. No one remembers the African name for this ceremony but it used to be quite grand and was an anniversary for all the vodunsis/dancers. As expected the vodunsis had a prominent role. In the morning they were dressed in white while the animals were sacrificed. The animals sacrificed would include a calf, goats. mocoys (land turtles) and fowls (chickens). The Rada never scarified nor ate sheep and pigs. Refer to the April 26 ad 27 post for more information on the drumming, dancing and singing which usually stops around 9 am. Today we’ll focus on the food.
The breakfast is called abobow and includes accra (ground black eyes peas, balled and deep fried), stewed black eye peas, rice and bread, all drizzled with olive oil. The midday meal is called amewa and we enjoy a dish called herre (cock and hen boiled separately, broth used to make cookoo, flatten cookoo on plate with chicken on top), regular cookoo and the meat from the sacrificed animals.Dinner is callaloo, meat and rice. Yum, yum!
Here it is family – our tentative agenda for our reunion next year! Please hold the week of July 30th for the family. We’ll fill in the details as we get closer. However, our biggest planning issue right now is how many people will attend? Please, please help us better estimate the numbers and RSVP on our Facebook page event tab.