Audience stands for the singing of the National Anthem
Event Date: July 29, 2008
The 2008 Emancipation Celebration kicked off in fine style at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village in the Jean Pierre Complex on Tuesday 29th July, 2008. A very large audience, many dressed in fine African clothes, turned up at the venue to witness the opening which featured Ndere, the Ugandan Dance Troupe, Ballet Creole of Toronto, the Jeunes Agape Choir and pannist Noel La Pierre.
Despite the late start, the programme eventually got going at 7.40 p.m. with a stirring libation from Pearl Eintou Springer who invoked the memories of the ancestors as she urged the audience to make this year's Emancipation celebrations a source of re-commitment to the nation. Khafra Kambon, chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee, gave the welcome address and briefly outlined the Emancipation 2008 programme to the large audience. Among the activities that he highlighted was the visit by the Ghanaian president, the Food Fair, the Studio 66 Art Exhibition and the various performances by such groups as the Picton Folk Performers, the National Ugandan Troupe, Ella Andall, Brother Resistance, Steelbands and Lebo M.
Marlene Mc Donald, Minister of Culture, Gender and Youth Affairs
Marlene Mc Donald, Minister of Culture, Gender and Youth Affairs delivered the feature address as she acknowledged the selfless efforts of the Emancipation Support Committee. She said that since the end of chattel slavery, Africans have engraved their contribution in every sphere of life and that Emancipation offers an opportunity for people of African origin to present to the wider community the creativity, beauty, spirituality and visible products of their social existence. She advised that the children of the nation should be exposed to the rich history of their African heritage, the wisdom of the tradition bearers, the creative art forms and the transformative workshops.
Pannist Noel La Pierre
Pannist Noel La Pierre and the band "Faces" delivered an excellent performance as they started with the mellow self-composed song titled 'Inspiration' before delving into the rhythmic Ella Andall song 'Bring Down the Power'. The pan wizardry of Noel mixed beautifully with the drums and voices, drawing appreciation from the audience.
The second act of the evening was the group Ballet Creole who did a dance piece titled 'Transformation'. This creative piece performed by eight male and female dancers, infused ballet movements with African style dance moves to the throbbing beat of the African drums, all well-received by the audience.
The local choir "Jeunes Agape"
The local choir Jeunes Agape came to the stage to render 'Song of Africa' which celebrated the musical renditions of both the continent and the diaspora. The powerful voices of the choir soon reverberated throughout the complex as they delivered English and African language songs to the rocking rhythms of the accompanying drums. The audience roared in appreciation as the choir started one of the popular anti-Apartheid, resistance songs originally sung by a South African choir. Another of their more moving selections was their rendition of an Ella Andall song, which they brought to life with their stirring vocals and choreographed dancing, bringing rousing applause from the audience.
The National Dance Theatre of Uganda
Ndere, the National Dance Theatre of Uganda were present to deliver the final performance of the evening, and what a performance it was. Titled "The Pearl", their presentation was a musical, dance, and theatrical production that showcased Uganda's stunning beauties through her cultural endowment. For close to two hours Ndere kept the audience spellbound with an amazing mixture of dancing, drumming, singing, playing of indigenous African instruments with their leader Stephen Rwangyezi injecting at certain points to explain some of the dances and instruments, all of which was a powerful narrative of Africa's contribution to world music.
Left: Leader Stephen Rwangyezi
Rwangyezi told the audience that African music is more than drums as the first guitar and violin were invented in Africa. He proceeded to play this traditional African instrument called the 'adongo', and soon another member of the group brought on stage a much bigger version of the same traditional guitar and started to play it as the crowd roared in response to the loud bass notes.
The National Dance Theatre of Uganda
Ululating cries filled the air as the Ugandan dancers streamed on stage with energetic waist movements that brought to mind the words of Patrice Roberts' song 'Thunderwaist'. Two of the dances, which they energetically shared with the appreciative audience, were the 'Entoore dance', which demonstrated beauty, flexibility, gallantry and valour, and the Agwara which combined the elements of beauty, royalty, sexuality, work and defence. The witty Rwangyezi showed his class as a master showman as he entertained and educated the audience with ease, using dance, stories and the oral traditions to convey the principles and wisdom of the African heritage. The show ended with the large audience showing their approval and appreciation with thunderous applause.
Opening of Lidj-Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village 2008 in pictures:
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