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Monday, 18 February 2013

Oya:rise of the Orisha. Press release

Oya: Rise of the Orishas is an exciting action packed film, written and directed by Nosa Igbinedion.


Oya: Rise of the Orishas is an exciting action packed film, written and directed by Nosa Igbinedion. The film resurrects mythical deities from African folklore, known as Orishas, into modern-day superheroes in Britain. The film will be presented In a visually unique style drawing inspiration from related genres, including sci-fi, action and martial arts and presenting a truly phenomenal spectacle in the art of film.

According to the Yoruba religion of Nigeria [West Africa] Orishas are a collective of charismatic deities with specialised supernatural gifts, powers and responsibilities.  Tradition has it that these supernatural beings once walked the earth with humanity.

We will tell a story that has not been heard before and discover worlds that have not yet been explored in Black British Cinema. These rich worlds and stories have been carried 
in peoples minds for millennia and told mostly orally. Amazingly, this culture has not been visualised on the British silver screen, until now. 

If you want to see an epic movie on a topic that has never been explored before in the history of western Cinema, GET INVOLVED.
We will be running a crowd funding campaign to fund the initial short taster and to prove that there is a market for this type of film. For each contribution our supporters make, there are some great rewards, from being an extra in the film to getting a special mention in the credits.
The crowd-funding campaign will go live from Thursday 28th February 2013 at 12pm GMT.

For more information contact:
Or visit the website

Director: Nosa Igbinedion
Producer: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor
Associate Producer: Sheila Nortley

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Saturday, 16 February 2013


In Trinidad and Tobago Carnival there is a traditional  mas character called 'baby doll'. Born of of the carnivals of the 1930's the baby doll masquerader will walk around with a doll, that represented an illegitimate child and accuse men on the street of being the babies father and demand money.

I just came across an article on a character in the united States that pre dates Trinidad's character of the 1930's also called 'Baby Doll' very interesting indeed.
check it out.

The New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies march in the Zulu parade during Mardi Gras 2012

A modern celebration of African-American history

CNN) -- The week before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Millisia White came back to her native city on a trip for work. She stayed behind to help her family recover and has been home ever since.
There was something she felt she had to do. "When something you are so familiar with is threatened to be lost forever, you cling to what's familiar," said White, who moved back from Atlanta.
For White and her brother, that meant bringing back a century-old New Orleans practice of masking, or masquerading, which was nearly vanishing.
That year, she founded the New Orleans Society of Dance and incorporated into the dance company a cultural legacy series of dance performance that would revive tradition of the Baby Dolls -- with a modern twist.
"We wanted to do something representing this tradition and what it meant and symbolize it in some form."

In a photo from the State Library of Louisiana, women wear Baby Doll-style costumes in a 1930s street parade.
The Baby Doll practice started about 1912, when groups of women in New Orleans' red light district poked fun at society's stereotypes of women by marching in street parades dressed as dolls. It grew into a tradition centered on dance and paired with jazz bands of the popular music of the era.
Groups of women embraced the attitude of freedom and the pageantry of the Baby Doll street parades, but their focus grew over the decades. They organized and began serving their community through groups called "social aid and pleasure clubs."
"These were just people who were very much of their community," said Karen Leathem, a historian with the Louisiana State Museum. "They tried to help their neighbors during an era of segregation and limited opportunity for all people of color."
However, by the 1980s and 1990s, only a handful of groups were masking as Baby Dolls.
Several neighborhood groups like the Million Dollar Baby Dolls and the Ernie K-Doe Baby Dolls were active in the new millennium. But by 2005, the Baby Doll practice seemed as if it was about to be forgotten in Katrina's wake.
The Baby Doll Ladies with DJ Hektik dance with students at the McDonogh 42 Charter School in
 spring 2011.
"My brother and I decided, we needed a sort of campaign," White remembered. "It all started so we could give something back in our own backyard."
She had heard about the Baby Doll tradition as a child and felt that it was a medium close to her heart. "It's synonymous with dance and with women," she said.
White's revival produced the Baby Doll Ladies, with costumes, face paint, music and dances that are modern takes on the Baby Dolls of the past. Rather than using a live band, her brother DJ Hektik plays mixes of hip-hop and jazz for their choreographed performances.
But White also wanted to bring back the community focus central to the Baby Doll tradition.

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Friday, 8 February 2013

Calypso and the return of SuperBlue

The story of Carnival 2013 must be the return of SuperBlue, bouncing, of good voice and spirit and demonstrating the power to overcome adversity. Isn’t it wonderful that we can all once again be thrilled by the talents of this man? 

Thirty-three years ago, Austin Lyons came to town from Point Fortin with a chant of the Spiritual Baptist (Soca Baptist) and reminded all of the links among aspects of the cultural heritage. Thereafter, he created music for us to dance and sing into the 1990s before a tripping-out that reduced his humanity over the last ten-plus years.

Super could not have been more enthusiastically welcomed back by those who know from firsthand experience, his embodiment of the rhythm, lyrics and musicality of modern soca. Even among those who know the man only from reputation and the faded video of a dozen and more years ago, I have heard their delight to hear and see the soca superstar of a decade and a half ago.

Blue Boy was the bridge between the original soca of Shorty and the new generation of wavers, inclusive of Iwer, Machel, Bunji, Kees and all the others—many of them irritatingly tuneless and lyrically illiterate. 

Blue inherited the legacy of Kitchener; he understood what it took to create melodies and loose the spirit of De Carnival on de road. With Soca Baptist, Rebecca, Ethel and others he maintained the tradition of the leggo. And when we aspired to qualifying for the 1990 World Cup, Super was in front waving the flag On de Road to Italy for Gally and the boys. He signalled assuredly when another hero, Brian Lara, overtook the 36-year-old batting record of Sir Garry. 

With No Curfew, Super created the release-song for a nation traumatised by July 1990. It was the first and, by a long distance, the most melodious and meaningful of the wave songs of the era. It captured the spirit of the people and gave the country a new purpose to move forward. Blue Boy/SuperBlue has meant something to this country beyond Carnival and soca. The anecdotes abound of Blue’s descent into hell; now he is back.

Fantastic Friday is not only about nostalgia and love for a fallen/rising hero; it has everything: a strong storyline with good quality lyrics; an infectious and genuine melody; and the explosion of a hook line and chorus to meet today’s need for energy. But far more important than any title and purse he may win this year, it is just great to have this troubadour back among us.

However, I am afraid for him because win or lose, Austin Lyons, the man, will have to deal with the challenges that will come with either of those two imposters—victory or defeat.  Returning once again to superstar status and all that goes with it—or failing to do so —has the seeds of deep challenges.

Instinctively, Super has sensibly been avoiding the temptation to trumpet his return and what may be a desire to brag about teaching the young generation of one-liners a thing or two about melodic soca composition and performance. Success will bring hangers-on, those looking for a free ride. Not becoming the Road March King or the Soca Monarch could be a serious let-down for Lyons.

Family and those genuinely close to Super, Tuco and the Ministry of Multiculturalism should already have begun to provide protection and professional care for SuperBlue. In reality, he is facing the same challenges that Blue Boy faced when he came to town in 1980. It is a worldwide phenomenon of artistes and sports personalities who find themselves incapable of coping with the stress and trauma of fame and money.

On the calypso season 2013, there were a few calypsoes in the monarch semi-final which demonstrated what Albert Gomes had said of calypso: It tells us how we have “lived and sinned.” A few retained the rapier touch of the calypso swordsman/woman, raising a voice and inflicting painful wounds.

There were many calypsonians who qualified under the Five Rules of Calypso—by Fearless—topic, lyrics, rendition, orchestration and stage presentation. However, only a few have graduated in the art of double entendre, humour, guile and sweet melody. Neither did we hear the raw calypso of a Commander, an Unknown or a Zandolee. I was tickled pink by Panther’s use of language and the fun he had with leaders. Chalkie was bold and clever and Karene sought nicely to turn the ship into another port.

However, what was obvious were the messages sent to the Government and to all the parties and politicians in the political culture: the Prime Minister, her Attorney General, Jack Warner and company have not fooled too many, and Reshmi, Section 34 and the many other issues await credible explanations. But beyond the PP, the calypsonians were savagely blunt about the gap which exists between parties, politicians and an increasingly conscious mass.

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Seamstress keeps Carnival costume-making alive!

From the day two dancing puppets named Tan Tan and Saga Boy made their debut on the Savannah stage in Port-of-Spain, not a Carnival has passed without a band that had skirts, pants, frills or capes constructed by Lachmin Rampersad. 

She is the go-to-seamstress from Annandale, Demerara-Mahaica, Guyana, who saves the day for mas bands offering masqueraders more than a slice of lycra as a costume. 

And she’s often at the ready and to the rescue for last-minute stitching tasks and adjustments as she offers bandleaders an efficient production factory that upholds fairly high standards in quality control. But she is not the cheap labour that is in abundance in China. 

Nike, Apple Computer and former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have each recently waged battle against allegations of connections with sweatshop labour in China. Contemporary fashion retailers Sean P Diddy Combs and Tommy Hilfiger recently endured damaging headlines around their labels allegedly employing unsafe factories in Honduras and Bangladesh, respectively. 

According to a March 2012 ABC News report, 29 workers were killed in a hazardous factory that produced clothing for Gap and Tommy Hilfiger’s brand. 

Lachmin Rampersad with her employees
 in her sewing factory
 in central Trinidad. photo : SEAN DRAKES
Trinidad’s mas bands, and its leading fashion retailers, who support factories in China with handsome garment construction orders, have avoided such unfavourable affiliation.

According to Rampersad, there isn’t an association for garment construction factories in Trinidad, nor is there a checks and balance system for the remaining factories like hers. But she’s adamant about making suitable provisions, since she was once a stitcher who worked eight-hour shifts. 
No sweat house

“My place is air conditioned,” says Rampersad, “I feel if somebody is not comfortable, they cannot work. If there is not proper ventilation, you will start to get tired. It’s a poor way of having people to work.” 

Her nondescript factory site has sat along a busy road in central Trinidad for the last 22 years. Her low-key persona by no means suggests she’s underprepared for hazards. “I’ve never had to deal with those things. I have tanks should water go. If current goes, everybody goes out in the cool until it returns. If current not coming back on, we tell them to go home, unless we have something to stitch by hand.” 

And should there be an emergency, there are four unobstructed exits for her staff of 35 to exit the 40-foot by 60-foot building.

The conveniences offered in most modern offices are staples in her factory. Employees have use of a cooler, microwave and fridge. But the most adored provision is the compassion Rampersad, 59, showers on her staff. 

“I tell the workers if you feel hungry, take a five minutes, go eat, because if you get sick, it’s worse. Sometimes you don’t know if someone didn’t eat at home.”

“Our people are paid properly. After 4 pm, they get time-and-a-half and they get a meal.” 
Continued on Page 5
From Page 4
The transparency around working conditions that Rampersad affords her customers has not exactly deterred clients from taking their business to China. Nonetheless, she is committed to nurturing her community in times when there are fewer and fewer options for young people. 

“Everybody in my factory is over 18. You don’t get young people to come in to work even as apprentices, because of CEPEP and On-the-Job Training (OJT). Nobody wants to learn the garment industry,” laments Rampersad.

“There’s no provision for that. It have (sic) Servol, but they have to pay to go there. People in the poorer bracket, they can’t afford that. You have people who have the passion for it, most of them if they have the passion for it, then I train them. As long as they are willing to do it, we will get there. 

“I have never had to fire nobody. If somebody come into the work and I know they are stressing me out, I say, Lord, you work it out. To fire somebody…I can’t do that.” Her daughter Stacy injects, “They leave at their own will.” 

“And when they gone, (sic),” adds Rampersad, “I say, Lord, thank you for helping with that one.”
Fortified by faith

Rampersad is a traditionalist who takes accountability seriously; she’s also a woman of strong faith. The fourth of five sisters and two brothers, she migrated to Trinidad in 1978 at the age of 25, after just two visits. An introduction that turned romantic inspired her sudden relocation. She was part of a church group. 

“We came across, stayed for two weeks; his father was in the Trinidad group.”

She is referring to Chankalal Rampersad, the dashing truck driver she met on that trip and stayed in contact with via handwritten letters.

In Guyana, she worked as a stitcher. Soon she was designing trousers, shirts and uniforms. Her daily stitching quota was 100 pieces. 

“We did it in parts, somebody would do the pocket, somebody would sew up the sides. We used to work for $25 a day.” 

That rate was bumped to $30 after one year of service. Rampersad credits her versatility and for quickly landing a position with Spartan industries in Trinidad.

“After I had my first child, I decide to stay home,” she explains.

Her husband “wasn’t getting enough work,” so she bought a sewing machine, and an entrepreneur was born. She went door to door seeking newborns to clothe with baby vests (kazacks) made of jersey. “One neighbour would order a dozen. Money was small then, I put a small markup. Sometimes I could sew 100 in eight hours,” recalls Rampersad. 

While other women collected handbags and shoes, she fancied sewing machines, and acquired six in five years.

She hired and trained her first employee six months into her new home-business; just stitching baby vests. 

“When she go home (sic), I used the machine in the evening.” 

The drawing room was at capacity with ten machines by the time they broke ground on a neighbouring lot. Banks wouldn’t give her a loan back then, so she used savings of just under $20,000 to build a simple 20-foot x 40-foot concrete brick production space. Word-of-mouth served to build the Rampersad’s small business, and continues to be the only form of advertising their business relies on.
Crowning glory

Her biggest honour was constructing the spirals and musical notes for costumes by Peter Minshall that appeared in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games. Soon, her clients included Legends, Brian MacFarlane, Alyson Brown. And she’s done “some work for Peter Elias.” 

“I work for Rosalind Gabriel two years now, I do little stuff for Tribe,” adds Rampersad. 

“I work last year for K2K, (on about 50 per cent of the band), but this year they went China.” 

(For accuracy, she did work on a few elements of K2K’s 2013 presentation. By press time, bandleaders did not respond to our request for comment on aspects of manufacturing.)

“If everything goes to China, ten years from now, what will happen to T&T? It’s revenue going out, nothing coming in.” 

Government minimum wage is $12.50 an hour. 

“My staff don’t work for $12.50 an hour, they work for much more than that,” stated Rampersad. “I know quite a few huge factories that went out of business, they had more than 100 employees. Everybody bringing in 40-foot trailer from China.” 

School uniforms are the bread and butter for the remaining garment construction factories, but that work is also going to China.

“After school uniforms, what next?” she wonders. 

Rampersad’s stellar reputation provides steady business for uniform and mas construction, and she isn’t bothered by requests to adjust costumes made in China. She continues to produce baby vests, which retail for $7 each. “Right now I export these to Barbados, Grenada, Guyana and Tobago,” she explained. “My label goes on it. Most of them is (sic) wholesale.” 

While she strives to do her part to create jobs, she prays for government intervention in the form of incentives for mas bands to manufacture more mas locally. The local workforce, she says, “is losing out to the culture. The only thing driving them (mas bands) to China is the cost.” 

SOURCE:Sean Drakes

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Canboulay—reminiscences of an ancient ritual

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With help from Minshall, ‘Big Mike’ SuperBlue goes after Machel’s Power crown

Veteran soca artiste SuperBlue has confirmed that legendary masman Peter Minshall as well as Mike “Big Mike” Antoine will assist in his presentation at the Play Whe Power Soca Monarch competition on Friday. The T&T Guardian was informed last week that the mas legend would assist Lyons with his presentation. 

SuperBlue, whose real name is Austin Lyons, confirmed this in a brief interview after yesterday’s draw for positions for both the Play Whe International Power Soca Monarch and Digicel Groovy Soca Monarch, held at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. He is among 11 competitors vying to take the Power Soca Monarch title from Machel Montano

SuperBlue, whose real name is Austin Lyons, confirmed this in a brief interview after yesterday’s draw for positions for both the Play Whe International Power Soca Monarch and Digicel Groovy Soca Monarch, held at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. He is among 11 competitors vying to take the Power Soca Monarch title from Machel Montano. 

Nine-time Soca Monarch Austin Lyons (SuperBlue) hugs Elizabeth Montano,
 mother of defending champion Machel Montano,
 after the draw for the Play Whe International Power Soca Monarch
and Digicel Groovy Soca Monarch competitions at the
Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, yesterday. Photos: Kearra Gopee
The competitions will take place on Friday (Fantastic Friday) at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain. Lyons is expected to perform in position 11. Defending champion Montano is performing in position nine in both Power Soca and Groovy Monarch. Destra Garcia will perform in position seven in both categories. Many artistes present for yesterday’s drawing said they were prepared for not only the show but also for the eventual outcome. 

Darryl “Farmer Nappy” Henry who will perform in the sixth position in the groovy category with his popular hit Stranger said: “I am honestly ready for it because for the past seven years my music has been drawing mature people. “The Carnival is groovy heavy and I believe I have a very good chance of winning it,” he said.

“The more you put out, the better your chances of winning. Someone might take $5,000 and get some props and whatever. I looking to spend $50,000.” Patrice Roberts, performing in the eighth position, said she was ready to perform in the groovy competition. Veteran chutney soca singer Drupatee Ramgoonai, who is performing in first position in the groovy category, said she is ready to take first.

“I am loving everything and lapping up everything,” she said, when asked how she felt to be back in competition after all these years. Montano’s manager James Walton said the soca star, who has been in the news recently after his suspension as an endorsee for the bmobile brand, is prepared for both the Groovy and Power Soca Monarch competitions.

How they will perform
1. Drupatee Ramgoonai
2. Nadia Batson
3. Saucy Wow (Denise Belfon)
4. Ravi B (Ravi Bissambhar)
5. Benjai (Rodney Le Blanc)
6. Farmer Nappy (Darryl Henry)
7. Destra (Destra Garcia)
8. Patrice Roberts
9. Machel Montano
10. Iwer (Neil George)
11. Blaxx (Dexter Stewart)

1. Lil Bits (Shivonne Churche)
2. Fya Empress (Lornette Reid)
3. Tallpree (Wilt Cambridge)
4. Devon Matthews
5. Shurwayne Winchester
6. Benjai (Rodney Le Blanc)
7. Destra Garcia
8. Jason Williams and Ancil “Blaze” Isaac
9. Machel Montano
10. Swappi (Marvin Davis)
11. SuperBlue (Austin Lyons)

SOURCE: Melissa Doughty

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