Research limited on Tobago’s culture


A man touches the “pregnant belly” of Tobago Performing Arts Company’s Kendra Murray as she claims the unborn child is his, during a Carnival function at the ANR Robinson International Airport on February 28. – FILE PHOTO/DAVID REID

AN ex-officio member of the newly-installed Tobago Carnival Committee believes research on the island and its culture is limited.

Cultural studies lecturer Dr Charleston Thomas made this observation on Friday during the committee’s first news conference at the THA Division of Finance, Trade and the Economy, Scarborough.

The 15-member committee, led by chairman Meisha Trim, is expected to officially begin its work on May 30.

Thomas, who has lectured at the tertiary level for more than 20 years, said, “One of the things as a Tobago lecturer in Trinidad and in a number of institutions throughout the country and the region, that is quite stark is that there is a continued lack of research on matters relating to Tobago, particularly on matters relating to culture.”

He said this has resulted in a lack of archiving and data collection relating to Tobago’s cultural tapestry.

“Therefore, one of the things that needs to actually be very crucial to any conceptualisation of Carnival has to be the way in which we come to understand the place we call Tobago.”

Thomas added, “Much of that has not quite been in our education system so one of the things that I am actually hoping to bring to the team is the ability to continue quality research on matters relevant to the development of the Tobago Carnival as well as to the broader business of Tobago’s cultural dynamics.”

This, he said, will entail facilities for archiving and documenting pieces of work, “including young people in the business of actually conducting fine research on the island, especially in relation to Carnival and the product that we want to bring out.”

Thomas said he looked forward to being a part of the committee.

Deputy chairman Kevon Mc Kenna, who was praised for giving the committee a head start in its work, said he was happy the Tobago Carnival will finally be a reality.

“It is about time. We have moved from reports in 2020 to consultancy in 2021 to finally a hybrid executing team in 2022,” he said.

Saying the team is “well endowed,” to bring the Carnival to fruition, Mc Kenna added, “The success of the Carnival is not only dependent on what the committee does from this point on but it also depends on what you, as a Tobagonian, a supporter, will choose to do.”

He urged Tobagonians to invite their friends and families living abroad to the island for the Carnival.

“You have to make sure that you immerse them in what you have to offer because we are more than sea and sand.”

Tobago’s Carnival takes place from October 29-30.

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