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In Trinidad, the Spirit of Africa

Above: Angelique Kidjo (All photos by CJ)

By Alexander Britell

PORT OF SPAIN —Angelique Kidjo comes from Benin. 2face Idibia hails from Jos, Nigeria.

But for one evening here, the two were right at home in the Caribbean.

Above: 2face Idibia

Trinidad is currently in the midst of a week-long celebration of Emancipation Day, a holiday the country first began celebrating in 1985 to mark Aug. 1, 1834, when the act that freed all slaves in the West Indies came into effect.

To celebrate the event, downtown Port of Spain has been turned into an African village, dubbed the “Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village,” as has become an annual custom in Trinidad’s capital.

Indeed, Emancipation Day has been a national holiday in the country since Aug. 1, 1985, and Trinidad has continually made the celebration among the best in the region.

The village is an amalgam of local Trinidadian cuisine and African cuisine, and a marketplace of African arts and crafts, with Trinidad’s signature “Bake ‘N Shark” side-by-side with the delicacies of Ethiopia amid stalls hawking hand-made sandals and leather goods.

On Wednesday night, the festival reached a different level thanks to the musical exploits of local singers like Singing Sandra and the stylings of 2face and Kidjo, who ultimately joined on stage to sing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

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