Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ten Months to Go!

Ten months to our great family reunion! Please let any Antoines you know about the reunion and ask them to like the page. Also, according to Facebook we have about 30 active users who still haven't liked the page. You know who you are ... please like us today.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

This is your history!

This is your history!

Shot in Ghana, Barbados and London this film illustrates the ‘Trading Triangle’. It uses epic cinematography and visual play to make the experience of slavery relevant to a new generation. The film is part of the permanent London Sugar and Slavery gallery at the Museum of London in Docklands.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Return to Benin!

If you're interested, you can return to Benin where the King will offer you citizenship and land!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Photo from Sedley Antoine's Funeral in the Trinidad Guardian

Photo from Uncle Sedley's funeral which appeared in the Trinidad Guardian on April 25, 2001. Thanks to Patsy Avis for sharing this with us.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Orisha Suite

The Orisha Suite celebrates the rituals of enslaved Africans, who, after being stolen from their homeland and forced into slavery by colonial masters, were able to preserve their heritage and identity through song and dance ceremonies. The story is narrated by a little boy who observes members of his slave community, one late night, in Sunday worship by the ocean shore.

Full story here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Last Train to San Fernando

In 1876 the Trinidad Chronicle quoted “Guinea-women of Belmont” who were “Radas – from near Dahomey” describing the newly introduced railway locomotive as “a thing of fear and mystery,” and called it the “Beke Debble-horse.”  The Beke Debble-horses were eventually phased out in 1965.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Traditional African Healing

Today as I think of my sister convalescing, I wondered how our Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine may have helped her. He was a diviner or traditional healer and assisted many in the community. He was even prosecuted for it (see May 13th post).  I learned from Francis Morean that there was an ordinance as early as 1832 to prevent the use of herbal medicines. On the other hand, doctors were legally permitted to receive payment from plantation owners to torture enslaved Africans!

Patsy Avis

Pretty in plaid, Patsy Avis (4th generation) in September 1972. Unfortunately, she is recovering from surgery so send her your prayers.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Millingtons

The Millingtons - Empress (3rd generation and now 87 years old) and husband Elwin who passed away 8 years ago

1872 Trinidad Chronicle Article

As reported by the Trinidad Chronicle in 1872 describing Rada worship, “within half a mile of town, usually on the Laventille hills and on some occasions they are joined by a few baptised men, calling themselves Christians. It is said that these people-to all appearances a quiet, simple, harmless lot-maintain a sort of chief priest or bishop on the hill, in idleness, who dresses decently, in cloth clothes, and comfortable house, well stocked with good furniture.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

A Son Thanks to Naete

In spite of having a reputed 18 children, our Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine prayed to the diety, Naeta, for a son. It’s reported that his wife became pregnant and gave birth to a son they called Henry. His African name was Dewendo and he was born in 1878. We do have to thank Naeta for Henry because he was the family member who provided researchers and scholars with the vast majority of information we are finally discovering today.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Strange but true!

Sometime in 1900 there was a severe drought and a sacrifice was held on Belle Eau Road. There was a drummer named Smart and during the sacrifice he prayed and sang a special song which called for rain. Smart gazed at the sky, then there was blood from his eyes. Soon it became hazy, there was thunder and before long there was a heavy downpour of rain!  There is narrow lane called Smart Place at the corner of Erthig and Belmont Circular Roads which was named in honour of this Rada.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Antoine Family Remembers 9/11

Let’s take a moment to remember the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and all victims of 9/11.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More Rada Music

Thanks to the persecution of African traditions in Trinidad, we had to adapt our music to avoid being targeted. The 1888 law against drumming caused our ancestors to lessen the sound of the large drum (tambour) and emphasize the smaller drums and iron according to Rada researcher Kwaku Senah. He concludes that “the advantages of the drum as a means of broadcasting and identifying a Rada centre of hospitality and group solidarity was lost.” Listen to our new offering of Rada singing and drumming.
Rada Music

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Uncle Sedley and Elwin

Uncle Sedley and brother-in-law, Elwin, looking dapper in 1984 at Deborah’s (Elwin’s daughter) wedding.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Breast Ironing

Yes, you read it correctly. Breast ironing is mainly practiced in Cameroon, but it is also used by mothers in Benin to prevent teen pregnancy.  It’s hard not to judge, but let’s try to view this video knowing that these mothers have limited options.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Sweetest Chenette

Chenette for sale! We had the sweetest chenette and I’m sure it was because the latrine (outhouse) sat right under the tree providing fresh, continuing supply of manure!  Abojevi Zahwenu/Robert Antoine’s son, Henry, and daughter-in-law, Camilla, documented their sale of the fruit. 

The first entry on this page was from late August to early September 1940 and the last in 1953. Sadly, the tree is no longer in the yard so next year we’ll have to get our chenette from the market.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Extented State of Emergency in T&T

The bad news - The State of Emergency in Trinidad & Tobago was extended to 3 months. The good news - The curfew hours were reduced to 11 pm to 4 am. The long term view: Not good according to this criminologist.

Click here for full story.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Back to School!

“Knowledge is power.  Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” - Kofi Annan (Ghanaian diplomat, 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize

Good luck to all of you starting or returning to school this week!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Antoines at 2006 World Cup Game

With today’s 1-0 win over Bermuda, looks like these soca warriors supporters better dust their fan gear off and get ready for Brazil. In the middle is Henry Antoine with sons Andy (on left) and Sedley (on right) at one of the Soca Warriors game in Germany at the 2006 World Cup. Andy was a professional Canadian football player with the Montreal Allouettes. Henry is Uncle Sedley’s son

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September Ceremony, Part II

The children of the family and the surrounding area looked forward to the September ceremony mainly because of the treats. This was a ceremony held for the children and it’s only fitting that the way to a kid’s heart is through sweets. You may also recall that our African traditions are intertwined with our Roman Catholic faith so a few days before the family had a special mass at the church.

St. Francis Church

The African name for the September vodunu is E’minona. But I must say that I really don’t remember this or any other African names for the 5 sacrifices per year in the heyday.
We wore white on Thursday and blue on Friday. Likewise, the baskets with the treats were blue and white. Why? Well these are the colours of the Christian saint St. Ann. The vodun equivalent for St. Ann is AGBE. Remember from the Vodun creation story that was posted on August 23, AGBE is one of a pair of twins who inhabits the sea and is responsible for the water.


Like in the other ceremonies, a cow, goats and chickens are sacrificed. In September, pigeons and guinea fowls are added to the menu. I’m sure I ate both as a child, but have no memory of what these birds taste like. But since AGBE is the goddess of the sea and water, why didn’t we have fish?
Guinea Fowl

However, the highlight of the evening is when one or two of the vodunsis (dancers) dances with a pair of baskets. This is the sign that your basket of treats is just a few minutes away. The kids lined up outside the vodunkwe (a small room a stone’s throw away from the tent where the drumming, singing and dancing is going on). I don’t know what happened after I received my basket because I was too busy enjoying all the homemade sweets!
Sugar Cake

September Ceremony - Part I

It’s the first Thursday of September and in the good old days we would be soon taking part in the September vodonu. The various Tantys, Mamas and cousins in the days leading up to the September ceremony would have busy.  Some will be making sugar cane (my personal favourite), paw paw balls, tollom and other sweets. Others would have braided palm-like leaves to decorate the tent (called azan). I have memories of making baskets from bristol board and I just finished making these not so great examples for your viewing pleasure. Tomorrow we’ll have more details. Do you have any memories of the September ceremony?

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