bmobile backs Black Rock Sea Festival
Black Rock is a small fishing village on Tobago’s southwest coast, bordered on one side by the sparkling Caribbean Sea. The community’s Heritage Festival activities serve as an acknowledgement, not only of the traditions of their forefathers, but also of the symbiotic relationship that they have with the ocean that is a part of their everyday lives.
The day starts with the pre-dawn echoing sounds of a blown conch shell, signalling the start of the community’s Tobago Heritage Festival production of the Black Rock Sea Festival.
Villagers, well-wishers and culture-seekers flocked to the streets of Black Rock as the traditional “Wakeup Call” procession got started. This is the first ritual in a series of activities in the pivotal annual cultural event that is also about celebrating, preserving, and passing down community traditions.
“Being able to re-enact and share these experiences of sacrifice and solidarity, with visitors and a younger generation, creates the kind of unity that continues to fuel the energy people see in Tobago’s culture, communities and commerce. These are inseparable and when taken together with all of the other traditions in the Heritage Festival, people can appreciate the elaborate story of Tobago that is being told. For bmobile, being part of that community is to be a part of the movement to support Tobago sustaining its strong voice and character” said Onica Blackman Enterprise Marketing and Communications Manager, TSTT, Tobago Operations.
After the Wake Up call procession, the festivities moved to the seaside at Courland Heritage Park where a short religious ceremony was performed to bless a fishing boat, and then members of the public joined the village’s fishermen in the pulling of seine. In a symbol of strength in unity, community members and visitors from every walk of life worked in unison to pull the seine- a vast fishing net- back to shore. Curious children peered into the net from the side-lines as it lay on the sand, examining the catch of the day before excitedly joining in the Sea Sports that continued after.
“The sea festival is a community activity where the whole village is involved. Children, elders, the whole community,” stated chief coordinator of the Black Rock Sea Festival, Leary Paul.
“We have sports going on with the children, the elders were there early this morning for the Wakeup Call, and all of them will be involved in the show tonight. We have from 5 years old onward. Every strata of the community is involved. This is a fantastic event that crosses generations and keeps our history alive.”
The village’s celebrations ended with a stage production later in the evening that paid tribute to the pre-colonial ancestors of not only Black Rock, but of the rest of Tobago, and sought to remember those who lost their lives at Courland Bay, during war between the Europeans and the Amerindians.
But even in their celebrations of the rituals and ancestors past, the proud village still infuses the successes of their current community into their Heritage celebrations. The village is home to the current Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, The Honourable Kelvin Charles, who went back to his roots to partake in the Sea Festival.
The Wakeup Call procession was also joined by the village’s pride and joy, the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra: 1st place winners in THA Pan Champs and 2nd place winners in the Panorama medium bands category for Carnival 2018. The steel band played alongside traditional drummers, tamboo bamboo dancers and traditionally outfitted fisherwomen in a celebratory merging of modern and traditional performances.