Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WE COVER - January 2008

WE COVER STORY: Mac Farlane’s Carnival 2008 - Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope

By Marie Fleming

Brian Mac Farlane (photo by Mariamma Kambon)

My recent interview with mas maker Brian Mac Farlane, left me with great respect and interest in what he does. Starting off doing voluntary work with big-mas man Raoul Garib from 15 years old, Brian managed to perfect his talents by working with a handful of different mas makers, learning all he could before heading out on his own. It was the year 2004, when one of his role models (Peter Minshall) decided not to stage a presentation; this was the turning point for Brian. As he sat at home watching the parade on TV, he could not help but notice how much Trinidad Carnival was losing grasp of its true meaning. His passion started to boil inside him and in February 2005, MacFarlane Carnival was born and hit the streets for the first time. Brian had his heart set on making a difference and doing something that would open people’s eyes to where we as Trinidadians have come from, and where we are going. In his inaugural year no one was surprised that he won and each year he continues to achieve a handful of accolades.

Mac Farlane Carnival 2008 will bring to the stage Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope and without a doubt this will be sure to touch the hearts of each and every onlooker. This portrayal depicts destruction in the world today, which we human beings are responsible for. “It displays the reaction to the actions that has been done globally,” said Brian. With sections such as Fires of Rage, Radiation, Famine, Ultra Violet Rays, Demise of the Oceans, and Oil Spill, they all make up chapters in the story of the social and economic crisis that is taking place all over the world. With this year’s theme, Brian wants to send a message to everyone; he wants people to know that we have to stop and look at what we’re doing to this world that we live in. “We must realise that there is hope and making a difference will be possible with the youth of today,” said Brian. The story of Earth is concluded by joining with 5 sections of #1 Kiddies band, Rosalind Gabriel and it is here that we will see the ‘Wings of Hope’. It will be a sense of paradise being reborn as our innocent children will parade through the streets full of colour and life representing the deterioration Earth being saved from destruction.

The choreography of the presentation has always been and will be remarkable in 2008. Rehearsals begin this month as they hire dance groups and individual performers to set the streets on fire. While masqueraders are not restricted in any way to follow routine, it touches Brian’s heart to see them get deeply involved in what they as a band represent so much that they themselves start practicing their own little routines in preparation for the judges. In keeping up with the significance of Earth, Brian’s mas is being built using as many natural materials as possible. The intricate detail seen on every costume is all hand crafted and much creativity is shown by recycling materials such as coins and corks which are being crushed and used as various decorative pieces. They achieve much of their colour by grinding sand and soil, representative of the core story being told. Some of Brian’s much loved sections are Oil Spill (this is derived from the traditional Oil Devils, yet done in a modern contemporary style) and Beings of Trepidation (meaning ‘fear’, instead of masqueraders carrying forks, we will see them carrying the modern day machine guns as we humans have been reduced to killing each other, creating war).

Brian Mac Farlane intends to do whatever he can to preserve the culture of mas as with each winning year he brings a statement to the stage. It is our culture that we need to hold on to as it makes us who we are. This year’s presentation will continue to bring to the street the sense of theatre with elaborate representations as he has for the past three years. With role models such as Wayne Berkeley and Peter Minshall, one can only imagine the ingenuity and creativity being set forth by Brian.

Mac Farlane is a band you will not want to miss for Carnival. The band offers a semi-inclusive bar which will provide the basic alcoholic beverages such as rum, beer etc. and an additional $500 will give you access to premium drinks on both days. Even though some of the sections are sold out, there are still quite a few sections with availability. Because of the nature of the band, Brian says they normally don’t sell out until the week before carnival. And while Brian still looks for another band to give him a run for his money he does hope that others recognise the value he brings to the streets each and every year. Costumes prices range from $3000-$3800 TTD and for those who find this a bit pricey, have the option to be part of this captivating portrayal by opting to play traditional Mud mas with them on Monday only for $600TTD. Being part of such a fascinating presentation makes all the difference. His band continues to grow in numbers and in popularity among the young and old, male and female. They now sit at roughly 1500 masqueraders (who Brian refers to as his ‘family’), all passionate about showing the rest of the country who they are and the difference we as a people can make in our country.

2008 Mas Section (photo by Mariamma Kambon)

Mac Farlane Carnival’s Accomplishments:

2007 – 'India - The Story of Boyie'
*George Bailey Award (Large Band of the Year) - 1st place
*Lil Hart Award (Large Band of the Year) - 1st place
*Downtown Large Band of the Year - 1st place

2006 – 'Threads of Joy'
*George Bailey Large Band of the Year - 2nd place
*Harold Saldenah Large Band of the Year - 2nd place
*Lil Harts Large Band of the Year - 2nd place
*Downtown Large Band of The Year - 1st place

2005 – ‘D' Washing by Fire by Water’
*George Bailey Award - Medium Band of The Year - 1st place
*Harold Saldenah Award - Medium Band of The Year - 1st place
*Lil Hart Award - Medium Band of The Year - 1st place
*Downtown Band of the Year - 2nd place
*King of the Band: “Prince of Deliverance”, portrayed by Fareid Carvalho - 3rd place

Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope Sections:
1. Party of Hypocrisy
2. Winds of Horror
3. Floods of Terror
4. Fires of Rage
5. Army of Fear and Destruction
6. Pestilence
7. Radiation
8. Invading Sands
9. Famine
10. Ultra Violet Rays
11. Demise of the Oceans
12. Oil Spill
13. Beings of Trepidation
14. New Dawn (Kiddies)
15. Passion of Humanity (Kiddies)
16. Oceans of Rejuvenation (Kiddies)
17. Abundant Grace (Kiddies)
18. Paradise Reborn (Kiddies)

WE GIRL – Maria Vaz

An accidental model, natural, exotic beauty Maria Vaz sort of fell into that line of work after working as a make-up artist for a modeling agency only to be asked to sign on with them as a model. This Jamaican beauty whose features will have anyone wondering what her ethnicity is credits not only her looks but her character for her success in the modeling business. She says she's very down to earth and knows exactly when to turn on her magnetic personality to land her the job.

A little over a year ago, Morena Entertainment's CEO, Yami Johnson told Maria that she was too beautiful to be a makeup artist and not be noticed behind the scenes so she offered her a modeling contract with her company. Maria was interested and excited to know that her dream of working in the entertainment business was about to become a reality but in a different way. Since her first modeling job in Latin group AVENTURA's music video, Maria has been busy doing videos for artists such as Canadian rapper Belly, Nas, Bone Thugz, Gym Class Heroes, Keysha Cole and Nelly. She showed off her catwalk as a model on BET's Rip The Runway, she featured in Fabolous’ album insert and also in fashion spreads and editorials for various urban and fashion magazines. She recently shot her very first commercial for Escada perfume and received a special request from AVENTURA to perform on stage with them at their sold out concert in Madison Square Garden. "I was surprised when my management called me about this request and also to know that they were paying me to do it when it was such a privilege," says Maria. "I can't believe I can actually say that I performed in Madison Square Garden, it can be very intimidating and exciting because not too many models can say that they experienced being on stage at the Garden and having all eyes on them."

Maria feels blessed for everything she has accomplished thus far. She closes 2007 with a cover in I.B. CONCEPT magazine, articles in new issues of The Source and KING magazines and recently shot a commercial for Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. She is also the sexy nurse on the cover of Ghostface Killa's newly released album as well as the lead girl in the music video for his first single. "I have a lot to be thankful for and I know that what I've accomplished so far is a good start to my modeling and acting career," says Maria. We know there is much more to see of Maria because 2007 was just the beginning of her successful career.

Photographer: MIKE JONES
Wardrobe Stylist: Albee Johnson
Management: Morena Entertainment, LLC

WE WATCH – What’s new in DVD’s, MUSIC, GAMES & BOOKS


Artiste: Pressure
Album: Love And Affection
Label: Don Corleon Records

B.V.I. native, Pressure has already sold thousand of copies within the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. The album, titled after its smash hit ‘Love And Affection’ (which has topped reggae charts all over the Caribbean, Europe and North America) was officially launched in North America in December. Other hot tracks on the album include ‘Ghetto Life’ and ‘Touch The Sky’. Available at http://www.greensleeves.net/.


Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) along with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) sail into uncharted waters and meet a new rival, Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), on the high seas. Available at http://www.bestbuy.ca/.


PlayStation Portable (PSP®)
Slimmer, smaller, lighter! The latest PSP® handheld system is 19% thinner and 33% lighter than the previous model, with twice the memory (64MB) for lightning-fast game play and awesome graphics. The new unit also features an AC power cord, AC adapter and a smaller, more efficient battery pack that lasts up to six hours. The 4.3" LCD screen sports a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, 480 x 272 pixel resolution, and 16.7 million colors for graphics that come alive on the screen. PSP® is available at http://www.thesource.ca/.


The Guyanese Wanderer – By Jan R. Carew
Born and educated in Guyana, the US based author, Jan Carew, delights readers with 10 stories of Caribbean folklore written in a Caribbean dialect.
Available at http://www.chapters.ca/.

WE MUSIC: Nadia Batson – 100% Caribbean Girl

By Karen L. Richardson

It’s finally here. Nadia Batson’s debut album hit the streets on December 17th - not a moment too soon. Her career began 15 years ago, singing background vocals for everyone in the business. At just 31 years of age, Batson is already a veritable veteran in Trinidad’s music circles.

The 13-track album is called “Caribbean Girl.” It’s named for the release that earned her an impressive third place finish in Trinidad’s 2007 Groovy Soca Monarch competition. “I figured that it's time that I compile all of my songs...can't keep releasing singles. Plus I felt like it would also be an exhibition of my growth,” said Batson.

The title is a natural fit for the quintessential Caribbean girl. Nadia is a proud West Indian. When you hear her pristine voice hammer out My Land or One Island, it only takes a moment to understand what she’s about.

“I represent where I'm from 100%. I think that we as Caribbean people are not fully aware of our richness, our beauty and our potential, the way we talk, our warmth, our food. We are so beautiful,” said Batson “and so I have no problem being the Caribbean Girl, ‘cause I'm extremely proud of that.”

But there’s so much more to Miss Batson. She’s a lover of music, and she strives to create the best, both for herself and for other artists in the business. “Good music to me would be that song that can evoke a certain feeling out of me, whether it be happiness, sadness, anger, anticipation, whatever,” Batson shared. “So any song that can be my mouth piece, I like.”

The accomplished singer-songwriter has indeed come a long way. “I just used to write poems and sappy teenage love songs. It wasn’t anything that I had really planned on making a career,” said Batson. Writing, however, eventually became her calling card. Having written high energy soca hits like Flames and Expose, Nadia’s songs have catapulted Antigua’s Tizzy and Barbados’ Barry Chandler into the international spotlight. Batson’s work was aptly recognized when she walked away as 2006 songwriter of the year at the annual COTT Music Awards.

With the release of her very own album, the focus shifts to Nadia the vocalist. “I would have to say that the most important lesson learned was that I always need to believe in myself, cause I am a talented person who deprived myself of true happiness and success for too long. I need to always remember who I am,” said Nadia.

The collection is a mix of previously released singles and newer tracks that display a depth many do not expect from the soca genre. Listeners will see Batson from a more intimate vantage point on As My Pen Drops and Ready For My Loving.

For 2008, she is singing her way through a hectic carnival season with Kes the Band. Versatility oozes from her microphone as she croons in a groovy soca-chutney style Meri Zindagi. On My Posse, the word-of-the-day is pace. In contrast, the ongoing theme for her career is stamina. And with each new milestone, there is no doubt Nadia Batson has what it takes.

For more on Nadia Batson check out www.myspace.com/nadiabatson

WE DESTINATION: Tobago – The Ultimate Carnival Cool-Down

Flights, hotels and car rentals are booked months in advance by the multitude of Carnival revellers seeking an escape after Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The white sands, shallow bays and beautiful clear waters along the shores of Tobago are just what you need to rejuvenate the body and soul after a hectic Carnival schedule.

Most visitors tend to stay in Crown Point (close to the airport), along Store Bay and Pigeon Point which hosts most of the major resorts, hotels and villas and is where much of the after-Carnival activities take place. For diving and snorkelling, enthusiasts head up to the North East coast at Charlotteville which boasts some of the world’s best diving and water sports.

Aside from being famous for its secluded beaches and spectacular coral reefs, Tobago also offers some of the best bird watching and is home to the the oldest protected forest in the Western world, The Tobago Forest Reserve. For avid golfers, Tobago offers two championship golf courses, The Mount Irvine Golf Course and the Tobago Plantation.

You can experience fine dining at places like CafĂ© Iguana at Crown Point, Coral Reef Restaurant inside the new Hilton Hotel or at the classy Coco Reef Resort overlooking Store Bay. For a more relaxed casual meal, you must visit the food kiosks at Store Bay and try the world famous ‘Miss Jean’s Crab and Dumplings’.

Tobago Happenings:
Carnival Las Lap - February
Celebrity Golf Tournament - February
Plymouth Jazz Festival - April
Tobago Heritage Festival - July
Food Festival – October

For more information on accommodations, dining, eco tourism, activities, road maps, etc visit http://www.visitstcroix.com/, http://www.tobagotoday.com/, http://www.mytobago.info/, http://www.simplytobago.com/.

WE MUSIC – Dr Jay asks the question…

This month, we turn to a question for which everyone has his or her own answer. With the Trinidad Carnival season rolling up right around the corner, most conversations with our fellow Soca-lovers revolves around the plans and prep to ensure that "we ready fuh mas again". So what is your survival guide for the greatest show on earth, Trinidad Carnival?
There's a plethora of travel tips and online blogs dishing out advice for first time mas players, so I'm going to tell you what they won't. These are my tips for Trinidad Carnival in no particular order because they are all important and should be heeded equally:

- If you THINK you can lime with the big boys and feel the need to SAY that you can lime with the big boys - you probably CAN'T lime with the big boys. Keep in mind that when all your friends have also been liming with Johnnie, they can't lift a big man off the ground. They can't and they wont.

- If you hear that KFC is better than Royal Castle, please don't believe them. I don't care HOW much heck I catch for this one; I love a Royal Castle. Don't get me wrong, Trinidad KFC still beats Canadian KFC with a cricket bat but it still can't test Royal Castle Chicken & Chips.

- If someone tells you that the best way to experience J'ouvert is to walk around town trying to bounce up the various bands, don't listen to them. Be smart and play it safe. This is not the movie 300 and you are not the King Of Sparta. Pay your money to play your dutty mas with a J'ouvert band with security.

- Don't be the one. You know who I'm talking about, ent? Don't be the one in the crew who drinks the most, but when it's your turn to buy a rounds, yuh vanish like yuh name is Criss Angel.

- Ladies? I'm talking to you. I know that most women choose to wear tights on de road for mas which is great but what is not so great is when I can see the panty part all out in the road. What's that all about? How come some ladies wear tights where I can see all kinds of seams and lines all around the backside? I have never complained about seeing bamsee before, but ladies, please don't do that to us men.

- Now this advice is for the guys. One thing that everyone should experience is a Trinidad All-Inclusive fete. It is all you can eat and all you can drink but not like in Toronto where they give you one shrivel up cocktail weenie and call that George. A Trinidad All-Inclusive features food stations as far as the eye can see, so don't let me see man standing up nibbling on a small plate of cantaloupe. Unless a sexy lady is feeding you fruit, eating produce at an all-inclusive is unacceptable. And another thing! It is all you can drink, not all you can waste. Waste not; want not. Especially when it comes to a drink. Have some blasted respect.

- We have all heard of 'vex money'. It is sage advice from your mom. Always walk with your vex money because you just never know what the night has in store and you may need to be prepared to find your own way home. So put that money in your sock and remember: it can't help you get home if you just spent it on a round of scotch and coconut water.

- And lastly, don't eat a roti on the pavement in St. James even if your friend or family, who lives in Trini, says it safe. Our Canadian belly is not acclimatized like a Trini Belly and unless you want to lose a day's vacation while your belly is running like Ato Bolden, leave Aunty Indira and she roti right there.

So what de Doctor wants to know is: what's YOUR prescription for Carnival survival?
…. and THAT is the question.

Dr Jay de Soca Prince welcomes your feedback on this topic at drjay@wemagonline.com

WE ENTERTAINMENT – Aroni Awards Inspiring Youth

By Carol A. Allen

The Manifesto Organization received the Culture Award present by Divine Brown, Starting from Scratch and Tricky Moreira

An evening of inspiration filled Ontario Place's Atlantis Pavilion on Sunday, December 9th, as a diverse group of young people were recognized at the 2nd Annual Aroni Awards Gala.
The gala is named after the late Aron Y. Haile, a jazz-loving free-spirited Software Developer. He died tragically in a bus crash on December, 2003 while on vacation in his hometown Eritrea, East Africa, just days short of his 30th birthday.

Last year, Haile’s dream of having an awards ceremony inspiring Black youth to strive to achieve their goals, became reality. Brother Mesfun and sisters Helen and Lia, along with Harmony Movement, volunteers and sponsors, created a very successful inaugural awards ceremony.

Returning Host and Canadian Idol judge, Farley Flex, co-hosted with actress Elle Downs
A silent auction preceded the show which opened with a dynamic drum and dance performance by Ngoma. Vocalist Andrea Henry, Poet Boonaa Mohammed, Pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo, Comedian, Jay Martin and Canadian Idol finalist Matt Rapley also entertained the audience.
Spoken Word Artist, Dwayne Morgan, performed a piece dedicated to Keegan Allen, who was senselessly shot in the head at a dance competition on Thanksgiving Day. He died one day later in hospital from his injuries.

Allen, an outgoing 18-year old, who loved to dance, was posthumously recognized with an “Inspire" Award for his eight-year involvement as a youth volunteer with Tropicana Community Services.

Zaqiya Tafari accepted an Aroni Image Award for Entrepreneurship. The 25-year old graphic designer, started his own company despite being a former gang member and high-school dropout. He turned his life around by volunteering with various organizations.
On receiving his award, Tafari stated, "It's a wonderful achievement because young people don't always get recognized. A lot of them are misguided, don't have role models and easily get involved in the wrong activities. I was one of them, but when I got into trouble and realized the impact it had on my family, I decided that I had to make some changes in my life."
He added, "we are more than just athletes and entertainment--we need to see more people in health and sciences. We have the power to empower ourselves."

Danavan Samuels, a Youth Advocate for more than 20 years, organizes the Toronto Urban Music Festival and the Irie Music Festival, which he co-founded. His award for ‘Community’ was presented by Cabinet Minister of Health Promotions, the Hon. Margarett R. Best.
The Manifesto Organization was awarded for promoting culture through their newly-launched four-day Urban Music and Arts Festival held in Toronto this past September.
Luwam Thomas, a bandleader, dancer and keyboard player received the Arts award and an award for ‘Sports’ was presented to Danny Fee, a member of several community sports initiatives.

Three $1500 Education Bursaries were given to Agapi Gessesse, Babakayode Fatoba and Fanieal Abraha pursuing studies in law, medicine and social work respectivelyConcerned that this event would be a "one hit wonder," Mesfun Haile was pleased with the turnout and anticipates that this will encourage people to continue to provide opportunities to acknowledge the youth.


Frances-Anne Solomon brings the real Toronto to the silver screen in February ‘08
By Stacey Marie Robinson

Frances Anne Solomon’s feature film, A Winter Tale, is destined to touch the spirits of Torontonians with its theatrical release in February 2008. The movie tells a truly Canadian story, with universal messages and international appeal. After a young boy is the victim of a misdirected bullet, his death inspires a healing process in the Parkdale community when neighbourhood men form a support group.

A Winter Tale has already sparked conversation and an optimistic buzz. In 2007, it won the Outstanding Canadian Feature award at the ReelWorld Film Festival in Toronto, it opened the African Diaspora Film Festival in Manhattan, and it has had festival screenings in Trinidad, Halifax, and the U.K.

“I didn’t want to do a hip-hop movie and feed into those stereotypes; I really wanted to pull away from that and go for the human element,” said Solomon. “Second generation immigrant kids born and raised in Toronto – from the projects or not – they don’t see themselves on screen, the breadth and truth of their experience. My intention was to reflect that truth and reality.”

Gemini-nominated Solomon has written for the BBC in London and has an extensive background in film, radio and television production. She was the creative force behind the Canadian sitcom Lord Have Mercy; the current Caribbean-Canadian musician profile series Heart Beat (Tuesdays at 7:00pm on Bravo!); and the Caribbean-Canadian resource LiteratureAliveOnline.ca. All works were produced through Solomon’s sister companies Leda Serene Films and Caribbean Tales.

Much like her other acclaimed projects, A Winter Tale features a cast hailing from a variety of backgrounds and performing experiences. The stars include Genie-nominated Peter Williams (as Gene); African-Canadian actor Michael Miller (as DX), Jamaica’s first lady of theatre Leonie Forbes (as Miss G); and Trinidadian comedian/actor Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall (as Professa). Due to their outstanding roles in the film, Forbes and Williams were recently honoured by the Jamaican consulate, and Hall by the Trinidadian consulate in New York.

“I consider it to be a very ‘Toronto’ movie, and very much about what it’s like to be an immigrant in this city,” said England-born Solomon, who was raised in Trinidad and studied Theatre Arts at the University of Toronto before returning to the U.K. where she worked and resided for many years. Living in Toronto once again, Solomon called an open audition and met with one hundred individuals from across the GTA. She was inspired by their tales, and derived her plot directly from the experiences of her cast members and residents of the Parkdale community.

“I want A Winter Tale to be a slice of life…we have struggled a lot,” said Solomon, recognizing that there is healing in the honest emotional expression of a painful story. Along with the commercial screenings taking place next month, she will be hosting a project called Talk it Out where students and viewers across the country will be able to discuss the film in-theatre. “Young people are not fooled by happy endings. They don’t want to be fed more lies, which is why they have liked the film so much. They recognize it, and answers are provided through its truthful presentation.”

For more information about A Winter Tale and related events in February, please visit www.awintertale.ca.

WE COMMUNITY - Camp Jumoke: Everyone Loves the Child

By Krysta L. Celestine

Approximately 10,000 children in Canada have sickle cell anaemia. Another 45,000 could carry the trait. The disease, which is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells, is not limited to, but is most common in people of African descent. In fact, one out of every ten people of African descent carries the gene. The symptoms, which include fatigue, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, are excruciating, (in severe cases--deadly) and can make leading a normal life very difficult.

Camp Jumoke (the word “Jumoke” from the Yoruba language of Nigeria translates to “Everyone Loves the Child”) allows children with the disease to be children. Each year, the not-for-profit organization raises funds to send kids with sickle cell anaemia to summer camp, at no cost to their parents.

The organization was founded in 1994 by a group of doctors with the intent of “allowing kids to have a space to go and to be themselves and not worry about being sick or restricted”, says Donna Sobers, Communications Director at Camp Jumoke. “(Jumoke) allows kids to challenge themselves, enrich their lives, and (basically) give them a chance to do things that they wouldn’t normally do”.

Supervised by a team of volunteer medical staff, kids at the camp are in good hands. “Parents feel safe. If it’s too cold for the kids to swim, they won’t go”, says Sobers.

Each year, Camp Jumoke hosts two fundraisers: a bowl-a-thon, which is taking place on January 19th at Play Time Bowl, and a walk-a-thon. The annual walkathon which has attracted people of all ages from the GTA, surrounding areas and Ottawa, has been a resounding success since its inception in 1994. This spring, the walkathon takes place at Nathan Phillips Square, and promises to be as successful as previous years.

“We’re proud and passionate”, says Sobers, who boasts that the organization receives no outside assistance from the government. “The money comes from the supporters”. Currently, the organization is able to send 40 kids to camp every year, and Sobers hopes that membership will increase, but this can only be done with an increase in public support. The organization is always in need of volunteers and sponsors, and for as little as $17.50, you can change the life of one special child.

To find out how you can change the lives of children affected by this disease, contact Camp Jumoke at 416-410-2995. More information is available at http://www.jumoke.org/.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

WE CULTURE - The History of Trinidad Carnival

By Antoinette Ifill

Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival is unique amongst its Caribbean neighbours for the one fact that it is not staged as a tourist attraction but has deeply rooted foundations in the history of the twin island republic.

At the end of the 18th Century, the French were invited by Spain to colonize the island of Trinidad and brought with them the tradition of ‘Carnevale’, a period of merriment before the somber reflection of the Lenten season. These celebrations began in December and ended on Ash Wednesday, during which the white elite portrayed the lower classes and slaves in costume. It was common for the upper and middle class to dress as field slaves called “negre jardin”, while the Africans were forbidden by law to partake in the festivities.

The abolition of slavery in 1834 gave freedom to the former slaves to in turn mock their slave masters in costume and the Carnival celebrations were eventually taken over by Africans and “coloured” persons of mixed descent. With this shift in the dynamic of the revelry, the whites withdrew from the festival hoping that it would loose it’s popularity by decrying the Carnival as a “Jamette Carnival” of which only the lowest class would participate in such an immoral and obscene activity. It was due to this disapproval of Carnival celebrations practiced by the Africans that the festival was reduced to only two days.

Unperturbed by the concern of the whites, Africans continued making Carnival into an observance of their own by introducing musical instruments such as African skin drums, masks and dances reminiscent of their native rituals. One of the most important activities of the Africans during the days of Carnival was the Cannes Brulees (French for Burning Cane), a festivity of song, dance and stick fighting. The Cannes Brulees was birthed during slavery; when fires erupted in the cane fields the slaves were rounded up to harvest the cane. This event became known as Canne Brulees, which was later changed to Canboluay, commemorated on Carnival Sunday.

As pressure was placed on the Africans to give up their Carnival festival, hostility brewed between the black underclass and white upper class culminating in the Canboulay Riots of 1881, a two day rampage by the retaliating lower class that resulted in deaths and mass destruction of property. Subsequently, the Canboulay Festival was abolished in 1884, replaced by a more restricted festival which began at dawn on Carnival Monday. Today this celebration is known as J’ouvert.

Africans used costume to highlight their plights as well as mock the aristocracy in masquerade developing unique Carnival Characters such as the Negre Jardin, European Clowns, Jamettes, Dame Lorraine and Sailor Mas. For most of the latter half of the 19th century, the white elite removed themselves from Carnival celebrations until the festival was rid of its unrefined elements. Upon their return it was from a position of observation in their vehicles, and it would be another forty years before the upper class rejoined the street celebrations. Today Trinidad Carnival, a celebration once so divisive, can be seen as the one event that unites all classes, creed and races, if only for a few days, of complete harmony and celebration.

WE Carnival - Trinidad Carnival Fetes & All-Inclusives 2008

Saturday January 5th, 2008
* QRC Outta de Blue VII All-Inclusive - QRC Grounds (St. Clair) - 4pm
* Chutney Soca Monarch Semi-Finals
* Temperature - Mobs II, Chaguaramas

Sunday January 6th, 2008
* Friends Forever (formerly Friends of BPTT) All-Inclusive - 2pm
* Beach Camp Club Annual Carnival Party -Beach Camp Club, Palo Seco
* Kabuki Sweet Soca Stew ‘08 Premium Affair - 4pm

Saturday January 12th, 2008
* Wicked in White
* Pearl Glow All-Inclusive -Pearl Gardens, Petit Valley- 9pm
* St Mary's All-Inclusive - St. Mary's College (Pembroke St, POS)
* Hilarians’ All-Inclusive - Hasely Crawford Stadium, Wrightson Rd, POS - 4pm
* Bishop Anstey All-Inclusive - Bishop Anstey Grounds, POS - 4pm
* Courts Staff Talent Show - Centre of Excellence, Macoya 5pm
* Chutney Glow 2008 - 8pm

Sunday January 13th, 2008
* US Embassy All-Inclusive - Haseley Crawford Stadium - 2pm
* Yorke Inc Annual Carnival All-Inclusive - Windsor Road, Valsayn - 2pm
* TTARP Annual Carnival Show & Dance - The Mas Camp (French St, Woodbrook) - 2pm
* South Central Boyz All-Inclusive
* WITCO One Fete - Queens Park Oval

Wednesday January 16th, 2008
* Carnival Under The Trees (Kick-Off) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm

Friday January 18th, 2008
* TCL All-Inclusive - TCL Poolside - 7pm
* Central Bank All Inclusive (Secret Garden) - Eric Williams Plaza, POS - 9pm
* Ladies Night Out 5 - Jean Pierre Complex, POS - 8pm
* Bazodee Friday - Pier 1, Chaguaramas - 9pm

Saturday January 19th, 2008
* Belex All-Inclusive 3 - Lion's Cultural Centre - 6:30pm
* Chutney Soca Monach Finals - Skinner Park - 8pm
* NGC Sports Club All-Inclusive - Country Club - 8pm
* O' Farrell's All-Inclusive - Mobs 2, Chaguaramas - 8pm
* Republic Bank Fete - Pier 1, Chaguaramas
* Blue Range All Inclusive

Sunday January 20th, 2008
* Pan Trinbago Panorama Semi-Finals - 11am
* Kiddies Carnival, St Anthony’s College - Westmoorings - 1pm
* UWI 17th Annual All-Inclusive Carnival Fete - UWI Grounds (St Augustine) - 2pm
* Friends of Blood Bank Fete All-Inclusive - 2pm
* Mc Leod Annual All-Inclusive - 2pm
* Karambouly Kreations All-Inclusive - Twin Walls, La Romain - 2pm

Wednesday January 23rd, 2008
* Carnival Under The Trees (Pan Gone Mad 3) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm

Friday January 25th, 2008
* International Soca Monarch Semi-Finals
* Carnival Under The Trees (Jumbie Bead) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm
* Army Fete
* Misty Ridge

Saturday January 26th, 2008
* Red Cross Kiddies Carnival, Jean Pierre Complex, POS - 1pm
* Fatima College All-Inclusive - Fatima Grounds, Mucurapo Rd - 7pm
* Carnival Under The Trees (Kitchener Forever) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm * White Oak Chutney Brass 7 - Guaracara Park (Point-A-Pierre) - 9pm
* Machel's Alternative Concept 6 - Haseley Crawford Stadium, Wrightson Rd, POS - 10pm
* Kama Sutra VII - Country Club, Maraval - 10pm* AS Brydens 9th Annual All Inclusive
* Victoria Gardens All Inclusive

Sunday January 27th, 2008
* Jamboree Sunday - Jamboree Park, Valsayn - 2pm
* CAREC All-Inclusive - Federation Park (St. Clair) - 2pm
* Nestle Annual All-Inclusive - Churchill Roosevelt Hwy, Valsayn - 2pm
* Hearts on Fire All-Inclusive - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 5pm
* T&Tec Soca Shoka VIII - St John's Complex
* Georgian Jubilation VI All-Inclusive - St George's College's (Barataria)

Monday January 28th, 2008
* Link Up Cruise V - Chaguaramas
* PNM Fete - Balisier House, Victoria Ave. POS - 9pm
* Mardi Gras 2K8 - 10pm
* Smile All-Inclusive

Tuesday January 29th, 2008
* A.W.O.L. - Macqueripe Rd, Chaguaramas - 4pm
* Tranquillity 2K8 Boat Cruise - Treasure Queen (Pier 2, Chaguaramas) - 7pm
* Carnival Under The Trees (Baron & Friends) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm
* Eyes Wide Shut CARNIVALE - Queens Park Oval - 9pm
* Island Style Glow '08 - 10pm

Wednesday January 30th, 2008
* S.O.S. - Maracas - 12pm
* The Ranch - Cunupia
* Carnival Under The Trees (Bring Dat Back) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm
* Custom Boys Pan-o-Brass Fete - Hasely Crawford Stadium, POS - 9pm
* Fete`n with the Stars - The Harvard Club (St. James) - 9pm
* Bacchanal Wednesday - Chaguaramas - 10pm

Thursday January 31st, 2008
* Headley All Inclusive Fete - Salybia - 11am
* Beach House Carnival - Ortinola Estate (Maracas) - 11am
* Alternative Thursdays, Down the Islands - 11am
* Blanchisseuse All-Inclusive - 11am
* La Flor’s 'Melange' Carnival Cruise - Pier 1 Marines, Chaguaramas - 12pm
* SS Wassy Big Boatride - Treasure Queen - Pier 2, Chagaramas - 7pm
* Machel In Concert - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 9pm
* TRIBE Carnival Thursday - Queen's Park Oval - 9pm
* UWI Splash - Chaguaramas - 9pm

Friday February 1st, 2008
* Blue Range Cooler Fete - Diego Martin
* Break Biche Premium All-Inclusive - 12pm
* Taste of Carnival All-Inclusive - TTHTI Compound, Airways Rd, Chaguaramas - 12pm
* Fantastic Friday (Soca Monarch Finals) - 7pm
* Under The Trees (Kitchener Come Back) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm
* IslandPeople Girl Power - 9pm
* Rise All-Inclusive - Moka, Maraval - 9pm
* D'Cooler Fete - Pier 1, Chaguaramas - 9pm

Saturday February 2nd, 2008
* Jamboree - "EUPHORIA" All Inclusive - Valsayn - 2pm
* Atlantis 4—D Ultra All-Inclusive - Pier 1, Chaguaramas - 4pm
* Eclipze All-Inclusive - The North Deck, Maraval
* Pan Trinbago National Panorama Finals - Skinner Park, San Fernando - 7pm
* Carnival Under The Trees (Monarchs Back to Back) - Normandie Hotel, 10 Nook Av, St Ann - 8pm
* Chutney Survivor Cooler Fete 2, Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre - 9pm
* Island Style Insomnia Fete - Mobs 2 (Chaguaramas)
* Trini Posse Fete - Chaguaramas
* Dawn, Sunrise In The City
* Lions All Inclusive Fete - Lions Civic Centre (Port of Spain)

Sunday February 3rd, 2008 (Carnival Sunday)
* D’Original Breakfast Party - Diamond Vale, Diego Martin - 1am
* Sunny Side Up Breakfast Party - Palm Avenue West, Petit Valley - 1am
* Sanctuary (Headley All-Inclusive) - Windsor Road, Valsayn - 11am
* Atlantis Booze Cruise - Chaguaramas - 11am
* Brian Lara All-Inclusive Fete - Chancellor Hill, Queen's Park West - 2pm
* Moka Explosion All-Inclusive - St. Andrews Golf Club - Moka, Maraval - 2pm
* T&T Involvers Boat Cruise - Treasure Queen, Pier 2 (Chaguaramas) - 3pm
* Harvard Club All-Inclusive Fete - Harvard Club, St. James - 4pm
* Dimanche Gras, Jean Pierre Complex, POS - 7pm

Monday February 4th, 2008
* J'Ouvert (4am)
* Parade of the Bands
* Carnival Jump Up - Hilton Hotel (Lady Young Rd, Port of Spain)
* Monday Night Mas - Paramin Hill

Tuesday February 5th, 2008
* Parade of the Bands - Judging points @ Adam Smith Square, Piccadilly on the Greens, Queen's Park South

Wednesday February 6th, 2007
* Beach Lime - Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas, Blanchisseuse Bay
* Wild Meat Cool Down - Balandra Bay
* Ash Wed Boatride - Treasure Queen (Pier 2, Chaguaramas)
* Chutney Soca Tent - Quinam Beach
* 3rd Annual Ash Wednesday River Lime - De Freitas Ranch, Valencia

WE CARNIVAL: Surviving T&T Carnival 2K8 – A Carni Newbie’s Guide

Thanks to a strong Canadian dollar, that long awaited Trinidad & Tobago Carnival trip may be well within reach. With the exchange rate at 6-to-1, a 7-day trip to the twin island for a full Carnival experience will cost you about $3000 CAD (including airfare, costume, accommodations, car rental, food, phone and fetes). Is it worth it? DEFINITELY! Let’s plan your trip.

Firstly, if you are not registered in a costume band, you may as well not go! Harts and TRIBE are already sold out, but Evolution (www.Evolution-Carnival.com) and Island People (www.IslandPeopleMas.com) should still have room for you. A premium all-inclusive costume package starts at about $400 CAD. If you wish to experience ‘dutty mas’, the popular J’Ouvert bands are ‘Red Ants’, ‘Yellow Devils’, ‘Cocoa Devils’ and ‘PlayTime’. Organize this before you even book a flight!

For deals on airfare, look out for sell-offs with Emerald Vacations or Titan Tours; the most popular chartered flights to T&T are Wednesday-to-Wednesday. The only thing is, on the return be prepared for chaos, as much of Trinidad’s airport staff are notorious for not making it to work on Ash Wednesday.

Finding a place to stay can be tricky, especially this late, but not impossible. Log on to www.GoTrinidadAndTobago.com/accommodations for a searchable guide. Another resource is www.tsttyellowpages.co.tt.

To get around, a car rental is a must but can be pricy ($400-$500TTD per day). Many residents that don’t participate in the festivities sometimes rent their personal vehicles at a steal ($250-$300TTD/day), if you can find one. Otherwise, here are the major rental outlets: Piarco Rentals 868-669-2277, Econo-Car 868-669-2342, Sue's Auto Rental 868-669-1635, and TnT Auto Rentals 868-685-8412. You can find a detailed map of Port-of-Spain at http://www.toronto-lime.com/carnival/tnt_map.htm. A valid North American license can be used in T&T for up to 90 days. If you don’t drive ‘Phone-A-Taxi’ is available at 868-628-8294.

VERY important: Prior to leaving on your trip, check that your passport is valid and be sure to ‘unlock’ your GSM phone. Once you get there it’s a MUST to get a local SIM card for your phone. You don’t want to come home to a $1000 cell phone bill from roaming charges. A Digicel or bMobile SIM card will run you about $100 TTD ($17 CAD); top it up with a $100TTD phone card and you’re good for the week.

Now you’re on the island on the Wednesday before Carnival weekend, what do you do? ‘Bacchanal Wednesday’ fete in Chaguaramas of course! To stay up-to-date with events, there are several key media outlets that will keep you in the loop. Local newspapers include ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Express’. The most popular radio stations are 96.1WEFM and RED 94.7 FM. TV networks are NCC 4, TV6, Gayelle, Synergy TV and WIN TV (NCC 4 broadcasts all the official Carnival events). For updates on the web go to www.VisitTnT.com or www.Toronto-Lime.com.

From Thursday night on is ‘real pace’! The list of events goes on and on. Escape to Salybia, Beach House, TRIBE Thursday, UWI Splash, Soca Monarch, Panorama, Trini Posse, Girl Power, Rise, Insomnia, Dawn, Sunny-Side Up, Moka, Dimanche Gras… whew! Then it’s J’Ouvert, Carnival Monday and Tuesday. But it doesn’t end, there still is the slew of after Carnival cool down fetes; Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas, Blanchisseusse. To get away from the large crowds, I’d suggest heading to the North-East coast (Matelot, Toco, Sans Souci) or even far North to Paria Beach Waterfalls. If you can swing it, try Scotland Bay (down the Islands) or head over to Tobago.

How do you stay awake for it all? Lots of coconut water and power naps in the car between fetes. Stay away from energy drinks that are high in caffeine and taurine; they may keep you awake for a while, but you WILL crash eventually and you don’t wanna miss ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’.

For more info on events, nightlife, beaches, places to stay and eat during T&T Carnival visit www.Toronto-Lime.com/carnival.

WE FITNESS - Get in shape for T&T Carnival 2K8… SOCACIZE!

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is only weeks away and thousands of scantily clad men and women will fill soon the streets of Port-of-Spain. Are you ready? If not, what better way to get in shape and look fabulous in that $500 USD costume than to practice your “whining skills” while burning those extra calories.

SOCACIZE™ is a special fitness class which combines dance movements (performed to Soca, Calypso, Zouk, Reggae, Dancehall and Drum music) into a cardiovascular and strength training program. “Prepare for a 1 hour SOCA Jam!” says Ayanna Lee-Rivears (program co-ordinator). “SOCASIZE™ includes cardio, weight training, toning and tightening drills and combos to help tone arms, legs and butt!” The goal of the program is to offer a work-out with music and movements that raise the individual’s spirit for an enjoyable session while burning calories quickly (up to 1000 per 60 minute session).

SOCACIZE™ is a fun alternative to having to routinely go to the gym several times a week. The program is designed for individuals that do not have the time to exercise during the work week or simply don't have the motivation to keep fit. According to Ayanna “It's the equivalent to having a regular daily fifteen minute daily workout, but compressed into a 1 hour session.”
Regular sessions are held throughout the GTA, but to prepare for the upcoming T&T Carnival season, a special SOCACIZE™ Conditioning Boot Camp will take place every weekend in January 2008; (Saturdays 12:30pm-1:30pm and Sundays 2pm-3pm) at the Scarborough Youth Resource Centre (SYRC) - 300 Borough Rd (inside the Scarborough Town Centre, next to the Disney Store).

For more information on a 2008 schedule or to register for classes contact Ayanna at 416-728-5545, aleerivears@yahoo.ca or visit www.myspace.com/ayanna_socacize.

WE BEAUTY - Combating Dry, Itchy Skin

By Carol A. Allen

Rough patches, tightness, itchiness, peeling, flaking and scaling may all be signs of regular dry skin, and can be challenging to combat, especially during the cold, winter months.

It can cause discomfort and look unappealing, commonly appearing on the lower legs, hands, elbows, knees, and abdomen. The severity of dryness depends on your health, sex, age, where you live and the amount time you spend outdoors exposed to the sun.
Dry, cracked skin may or may not be itchy, but it's usually related to environmental factors such as heating and air conditioning, low humidity, wind, excessively hot or cold water, harsh soaps, detergents and solvents. It can be hereditary, or caused by metabolic factors such as excessive weight loss or an under-active thyroid gland which reduces the activity of oil and sweat glands. Stress, smoking, alcohol, prescription drugs and caffeine also contribute to dryness. Overuse of antiperspirants and perfumes can increase irritation and chapping.

Your outer layer of skin is made up of dead skin cells, lipids and natural oils which protect the inner layers of skin from toxins and irritating elements. Dryness and itchiness is a sign that your skin has lost its protection. And, as you age, your natural oil production slows down.

The most effective ways to soften and relieve dry skin is to use hypo-allergenic moisturizers such as ointments, cream and lotions. Liberally moisturizing your body three to four times per day is recommended, especially after bathing. Mixing baby oil or bath oils with a moisturizer adds an extra boost of protection.

Dry air affects your skin and lips. Use lip balms with sunscreen and avoid licking to prevent chapping. At home, use a humidifier for moisture and avoid direct contact with indoor heat sources.

Minimizing bath time to 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water instead of steamy hot water will lock in the skin's natural oils.

When shaving, use cream or gel, and change the blades often. Drink plenty of water daily to prevent dehydration. Protect your skin with an SPF 15 sunscreen containing UVA and UVB, even when it's cloudy or overcast. Avoid using harsh soaps that strip your skin of essential oils. Lightly scented or unscented mild soaps and detergents are more appropriate as residue may irritate sensitive, chapped skin. And, allow the skin to breathe by wearing silks and cottons instead of wools.

Products enriched with emollients like shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil, will help to retain the skin's moisture levels. Relieve dry hands with petroleum jelly and cotton-gloves overnight.

Dry, itchy skin may be signs of other diseases including diabetes and kidney disease. Related dry-skin conditions include small acne-like bump patches called keratosis pilaris, ichthyosis vulgaris which resembles fish scales, psoriasis which tends to be red and dry and asteatotic eczema, scaly, fissured skin which may be inflamed or bleed. Psoriasis, which flares periodically, is a thick, scaly build-up of dead skin.

For itchiness, if moisturizer doesn't help, try a one percent hydrocortisone steroid skin cream for a week. Consult a physician if conditions persist.

Carol Allen is a Skin Care Consultant and Make-Up Artist for Aloette Cosmetics.
You can book a personal consultation by calling (416) 410 7556 or by email to

WE Relationships – Rules of Engagement: Dating Etiquette…

By Niama S. Sandy

As it is a New Year let us truly start anew! Just as the New Year brings endless new possibilities, so do new relationships. When it goin good yuh have de bliss and de excitement but there’s always the chance that it can go terribly wrong before you’re really out of the gate. In true Rules of Engagement fashion I will prove my case with a story…

Some months back I met a man – let’s call him Courtney. We went once; he paid- only indicating his intent to do so after I pulled out my own money. A few weeks later, I had passes to an event. I invited him. He replied “Sure, could you treat to dinner?”

Honestly, I had a deer-in-the-headlights moment. I know this a new era for women and all; nowadays a woman can pay on a date but here’s the thing: don’t ask me to!

Then I thought about it again. Depending on your thought processes there is an argument to be made that he could have been 1) just being honest and open or 2) testing me. I decided to put my schema aside and go with it; so I finally said “Sure why not.”

So I tell him what time to get there. A little after the appointed time, Courtney calls – “I will be there in 10 minutes.” Twenty minutes later this one waltzes in, his breathe smelling like I don’t even know what and furthermore now a half an hour late. He was already pushing his luck with the “can you treat” thing; this lateness was kicking it into overdrive. Needless to say there hasn’t been another excursion.

So our Rules for the New Year…

1. Look your best!
You may call me superficial but hear me out. For me, looking “your best” translates to emanating confidence and being inviting. Make sure yuh doh have no lint in yuh hair or nuttin so.

2. Be on time!
Hell be a few minutes early! Your lateness can read as your complete disregard for the time of others. If you know you’re going to be late – call!

3. Put the Crackberry down!
In today’s world there are so many things that fracture our attention into a million little pieces. The incessant texting, e-mailing, and whatever else your device of distraction does can go on hold for the next couple of hours. There is nothing worse than hearing “One More Time” come blasting out of your date’s phone when in the middle of a conversation. It may be exceedingly difficult but try giving your date your full attention.

4. Mind your manners.
Common courtesy seems to be something that’s lacking in many everyday interactions; fill that void. Gentleman: stand when she gets up to go to the bathroom, take off your hat when you enter her house, open her door - and my personal old-fashioned favorite – make sure she walks on the inside of the street. Ladies: laugh at his jokes!

WE Bacchanal* - Top 10 ways to catch a cheating partner

By Mr PlayHouse

For all you paranoid gals/fellas who feel a little weary of your partners loyalty, here's how you can catch on to them.

#10. Tell your partner you're going out of town, and then monitor what he/she does while you're supposedly away.

#9. Check the odometer on the car for unexplainable extra mileage. If you're extra paranoid install a GPS tracking device on the car. *lol*

#8. If your partner claims to be working late all the time. Check their pay stubs and make sure it reflects the overtime.

#7. Check computer histories for multiple free-based email account websites. If your partner has frequent gmail, yahoo and hotmail visits and doesn’t email you from any of those, something is up.

#6. If your partner’s computer and cell phone history is always clean, then definitely something is up.

#5. Set up a fake myspace or facebook profile, then leave your girl a flirty comment and wait for a response.

#4. Technology is a great thing... simply buy your girl/guy a phone as a gift (one that has a GPS of course).

#3. Use the good old 'bluff'. If you're a good actor, say to your partner "I know what you've been up too, here's your last chance to tell me the truth". Wait for a reaction!

If in bed your girl screams out "OH YES DELROY"; and Delroy isn't your name... BUSTED!

AND... The #1 way to know if you have a cheating partner...
If he/she is going to Trinidad Carnival and insists that you don't go along for the trip... END IT... ONE TIME!

For more bacchanal or to send comments... contact Mr PlayHouse at mrplayhouse@wemagonline.com or www.myspace.com/mrplayhouse

Listen to Mr PlayHouse LIVE on 'Star Struck' every Tuesday night from 9-11pm on

* Definition of Bacchanal: Caribbean slang word (noun); Confusion; Causing problems amongst each other.

WE Food - June Plum

By Natasha G. Samuels

I was introduced to June Plum (Golden Apple if you are from Barbados; Pommecythere if you are from Trinidad and Spondias Dulcis for you science buffs who care to know what the actual botanical name is,) during one of my many trips back to Jamaica. I wasn’t very fond of the fruit then, with its sour skin and jooky big rhaatid seed. It’s amazing though how homesickness will inspire us to eat any and everything that we can get our hands on while abroad even if it was never a favorite of ours when we were back home. As such, although it wasn’t my favorite, I didn’t hesitate to shell out the $5.00 (USD) for four of the green plums when I saw them arranged in a small box at the end of the cashier line in my neighborhood’s one stop West Indian Food store.

As soon as my four little guys were ripe (I put them in a brown paper bag to speed the process), I would peel and eat them in one setting. However, June Plum is edible green. In its un-ripened stage, June Plum can be used in chutneys, pepper sauces, pickles or salsas. The flesh has a crisp, acidic taste and is described by many as having a pineapple-like fragrance and taste. In its ripened stage (which I prefer), the fruit is golden yellow, sweet and less acidic and can be used in salads, juices and deserts. When stewed with sugar and cinnamon, the flesh of the June Plum yields a product, which is like a traditional applesauce but one that is richer in flavor.

Of course as children of the Caribbean, after a challenging climb or for those of you who were less adventurous with exploring the upper limbs of the June plum tree, (like me) would pick the June Plum from off the ground (or wait for it to come from market) and peel the skin of the ripened fruit with a knife or with our teeth and eat as much of the fleshy parts before reaching its prickly core. Another edible part of the June Plum is the leaf of the tree itself. In Southeast Asia the leaves are consumed raw. In Indonesia the leaves are steamed and eaten as a vegetable with salted fish and rice.

A native of the South Pacific, June Plum is another fruit brought to the islands by the infamous Captain Bligh. The fruit is cultivated in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Venezuela and Surinam. The oblong shaped fruit is considered to be a good source of vitamin C and iron. It is said to be useful in relieving ailments such as diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and urinary troubles.

June Plum is a popular fruit drink in Guyana. In Jamaica, Tru-Juice bottles and sells June Plum juice to the masses. Here is a juice recipe that you can try at home with ripened June Plums.

June plum juice (one serving)
6 June plums – peeled with the prickly seed removed
½ cup of water
1 tablespoon of honey or brown sugar
½ tablespoon of grated ginger
Place all ingredients in blender with ice. Blend, strain and pour into tall glass.


By Cheryl Nneka U. Hazell

Hosay in Cedros (photo by Pedro Delano - www.lightstalkers.org)

The beat of the tassa drums can be heard coming down the streets in various towns and districts of Trinidad as the observations of Hosay gets underway. This 1300 year-old annual celebration, observed during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is held by Muslims in remembrance of the martyrdom of the prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein, from which the creolized word “Hosay” is derived. He had been marching to Baghdad to revenge his brother Hassan’s death when his rivals slew him. East Indian immigrants who were Shiite Muslims brought this piece of their culture with them to Trinidad in 1845 from the north Indian city of Lucknow and the Indian state of Oudh. Hosay was first observed on the island in 1854.

Threatened by scenes of public gatherings, the British colonial authorities outlawed the Hosay commemorations in 1884. Celebrants still took to the streets and while Port of Spain was spared, a shootout occurred in San Fernando in which East Indians were killed or injured. That day is historically referred to as the Muharram Massacre but was called the Hosay Riots in British colonial records. There is no such threat to the culture or the observations today.

For three nights the procession wends through the city streets beginning on Flag Night with hundreds of devotees carrying multi-coloured flags symbolizing the Battle of Kerbala. The next night, small tadjahs, or models of mosques built and decorated by volunteers, are led by the sounds of the tassa - made of clay and covered with goat skin - which can be heard for miles around. On the third night, large spectacular tadjahs standing more than two meters high are paraded through the streets by eager participants while dancers hold aloft two elaborately decorated crescent moons representing the slain brothers.

Over the years, participants have crossed racial and religious boundaries. Hosay celebrations are carried out in Curepe, Tunapuna, Couva and Cedros. On the fourth morning, a simulated battle done in the form of a dance is performed in an open field and afterwards a special prayer is offered up to the memory of the dead. Later in the evening the tadjahs are dismantled and properly disposed of in adherence to environmental-friendly sentiments as opposed to throwing them into the sea as in days gone by.

This highly ritualized tradition has evolved into its own unique event and it is evident that Hosay’s modern-day meaning in Trinidad serves to promote and showcase ethnic pride and encourage solidarity between Muslims and East Indians.

The festival takes place on January 19th, 2008 and in 2009 Hosay will occur twice in the same calendar-year (January 7th & December 27th).

WE FILM – The Great Debaters

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Melvin B. Tolson (played by Denzel Washington who directs the movie as well) is the real-life professor who formed the debate team that is comprised of some young actors that will have a long an illustrious career in the movie business if these performances are any indication. In addition to being a professor, Tolson was also a working man's advocate who, due to his ideologies, was accused of being a communist (one of the worst names to be called in those times). Forest Whitaker plays the role of Dr. James Farmer, a nationally-recognized scholar who regardless of his credentials, found his life threatened by white hog farmers who wouldn't get a question right on game show, "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?"

Nominated for a Golden Globe for "Best Picture", THE GREAT DEBATERS is a fictionalized true story that the vast majority of us have never been taught in history class. It’s a real tale of the unlikely ten season unbeaten streak of the debate team at Wiley College (a small all-Black institution in Marshall, Texas) in 1935. Produced by Oprah Winfrey, I was under the impression that this would have been a typical, sappy and preachy movie. I couldn't have been more wrong. Instead, it is a story told with honesty, humour and raw emotion. Do you want the real talk? There was a point where I had to drink some sprite in order not to get all emotional in the movie theatre. Trust me; this will put a lump in your throat. Do yourself a favour and go see this movie. Don't get all cheap and pick up a bootleg at the flea market. This deserves your support in the theatre. When it comes to THE GREAT DEBATERS, I am in the affirmative.

Release Date: December 25th, 2007
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM Studios)
Director: Melvin B. Tolson
Starring: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker, Denzel Whitaker, Jermaine Williams, Gina Ravera, Jurnee Smollett, John Heard, Kimberley Elise
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG 13
Official Website:

Ask WE - Dear Sonya

Dear Sonya,

I have started a new job recently and I sit next to this guy who is married and has a family. We take our breaks together, we go for lunch together and we are always flirting back and forth. During lunch the other day, we each had a shot - to celebrate the holidays, when we got back into the car he reached over and kissed me (and much more!). When we got back to work, he started sending me these provocative emails and leaving notes on my desk. I admit , I really like the attention - I know that I am vulnerable, I haven’t been in a relationship for some time now, I don’t want to fall for him, but I find myself thinking about him all the time. I take that extra few minutes in the morning to make sure I look extra good. Am I doing something wrong?

Dear Wrong Attention,
You KNOW you are doing something wrong - otherwise you wouldn’t be writing. What you are to him is his "work wife" and that’s it. The same way YOU like the attention, so does HE. When it comes down to it, he is going home to his wife and family and if you are expecting more than that, then someone needs to tell you that you are being used. I know you like the attention, but when rumours start going around, it’s not going to be the type of attention you want- don’t turn into the office tramp.

Dear Sonya, I have been seeing this guy for about 4 weeks. We go out, have coffee, long hours of conversation and things are great. The other day I called him and he was out with his friends. When he answered the phone he was so rude to me. He didn’t even call me back that night. The next day, I felt so stupid, but I called him again on my lunch hour and left him a message and he didn’t return my call until the end of the day. I call him 7-8 times a day and he calls me once a day. I send him emails and he doesn’t respond. I feel like I am in love with him and he is my soul mate, but lately he has been treating me so bad.

Dear In Love,

Even your email is scaring me. You need to chill. Love does not happen that fast. Sure someone can fall OUT of love easily, but to fall in love take a little more time than 4 weeks. I hope during one of your long conversations you didn’t mention any of the above? Don’t confuse your infatuation with love or your NEED to be in love with 'love'. Stop obsessing over the relationship and lose the needy attitude; I’m sure you can find a life outside of this guy- so he will be a little more interested in you. Nothing more dull than a needy girl with no life of her own.

Need advice? Send your questions to dearsonya@wemagonline.com