“As we celebrate …our quality of life is being undermined and disturbed….anybody who attempts to destroy our heritage is our enemy…” this from Chief Secretary Orville London at Charlotteville Natural Treasures Day.
Beautiful sunshine and a cool breeze characterized Charlotteville’s Natural Treasures Day, another major and significant event on the Tobago Heritage Festival Calender.
As is customary the day’s proceedings began at Fort Campbleton, overlooking one of the most scenic views to be found anywhere in the Caribbean , as sailboats bobbed in crystal clear waters, cradled by luscious green hills.
Chief Secretary Orville London was on hand to officially begin the day’s proceedings and accompanying him, was the Secretary of the Division of Community Development and Culture, Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, under whose purview the Tobago Heritage Festival 2014 falls.
Secretary Tsoiafatt-Angus urged the gathering to reflect on the struggles of the ancestors, struggles which brought the people to where they are today, even as they enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
“As we celebrate throughout the day, the cultural experiences, reliving the way we worked and the way we played, it is important to keep in mind what they would have gone through, to have us here today,” as she wished everyone an enjoyable experience.
Not his usual affable self this year, as is customary, it was a somber Chief Secretary Orville London, who thanked and congratulated the Charlotteville Heritage Committee for organizing the event, as he shared his feelings of inspiration at the sheer beauty of his surroundings..the history and traditions.
Charlotteville, he declared, “is a natural treasure, a part of the Tobago we love, the Tobago we want to preserve, the Tobago that represents our heritage.”
Mr London noted, that as far as he is concerned, “this is one activity which reflects what this Heritage Festival is all about…its about education, its about entertainment… its also about reliving the past, so that we can be inspired.” He advised that he stood there with mixed feelings, as he declared that “this is the Tobago we are attempting to protect and preserve, while others are attempting to destroy it.”
Stressing that quite apart from natural attributes, its about our quality of life, which the Chief Secretary observed “is being undermined and disturbed, as we speak.”
He continued, “I want us all to understand…, the preservation of our heritage and our way of life is not only about how we deal with the physical environment, but how we deal with the social environment and how we deal with the elements that are attempting to disrupt that social environment.”
As we celebrate….I want us all to understand that after the celebration is over, we still have a challenge and a responsibility to protect and preserve what is ours…. , anybody who attempts to destroy that, is our enemy….whether that person is born in Tobago or not, this person is an enemy of our culture, our heritage and our way of life.”
The Chief Secretary urged those gathered to” let us band together and protect ourselves and our environment against the enemy,” as he excused himself from joining the trek down to the Village, due to pressing matters to attend, on issues of Tobago’s autonomy.
After homage was paid to the Ancestors, the conch shell blown and prayers said, the trek down the hill began…with hundreds joining in, to the chants of songs of yesteryear and the rich vibrant sounds of the drums.
Several tourists and other visitors could be seen mixing with the crowds, as more and more joined in along the way.
Second stop…….now a tradition, was for sweetbread, pone and other delicacies, before joining the Village women for a re-enactment of ‘Washing of the Dead Bed’ clothes at the river, to keep spirits away.
Back on the streets, more revelry, as the trek continued to the Cocoa House and the nostalgic atmosphere of roasting Breadfruit, Chocolate Tea and the ‘Dancing of the Cocoa,’ in which Secretary Tsoiafatt-Angus and others had the pleasure to participate.
Next stop, the famous Dirt Oven and delicious tasting ‘Dirt Oven Bread,’ a treasured Tobago delicacy.
Finally, arriving in the Village, the procession joined the thousands, enjoying what can only be described as a street party, filled with music, dance, food and revelry and where the last re-enactment entitled the Batty Mill Demonstration…..that of the manual squeezing of the Sugar Cane and the use of an old- fashioned Saw traditionally used to cut wood to build houses, took place.
Many thousands enjoyed the festive atmosphere, until the evening’s Stage Production entitled ‘Africa Revealed,’ unfolded.