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  • Performers participate in the re-enactment of the 1881 Canboulay Riots, an African resistance against the British colonial government, on the Piccadilly Greens located in the eastern part of Trinidad and Tobago

    Performers participate in the re-enactment of the 1881 Canboulay Riots, an African resistance against the British colonial government, on the Piccadilly Greens located in the eastern part of Trinidad and Tobago's capital city Port of Spain. | Photo: National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago- NCC

Published 9 February 2018

Some spectators showed up for the event depicting African resistance to British colonial rule as early as four in the morning.

The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago kicked off carnival celebrations in the twin-island republic on Friday with the re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots in Port of Spain, the country's capital city.

The re-enactment traditionally starts at around 4 a.m. on the Friday before Carnival Monday and Tuesday, celebrated this year on February 12th and 13th, with over 100 performers gathering on the Piccadilly Greens located in the eastern part of the city along with hundreds of onlookers.

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This year some spectators showed up for the event depicting African resistance to British colonial rule as early as 3 a.m. hoping to get a good view of the annual theater production. 

Children and adults crammed the venue to witness the re-enactment. Hundreds of performers recalled the time when enslaved Africans refused to adhere to the demands of British colonial planters to put out fires raging in the cane fields in order to save the harvest. 

The show also told the story of resistance to the colonial British government's attempt to ban Canboulay street festivities in 1881. It incorporated stick fighting, African drumming, flambeaux, a parade of traditional carnival characters and other cultural expressions of the time. 

Organized each year by the National Carnival Commission, NCC, the re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots. However, the event is a relatively recent construct, originating roughly a decade ago by a man named John Cupid. For decades, Mr. Cupid has been a significant player in helping shape carnival and this Caribbean island. 

Researchers and scholars also view such re-enactments as a beautiful way to retell history in a way that captivates the mind of the younger generation in a way that positively shapes a brighter cultural and political future.


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