Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Man Afraid?


Photograph courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

Nat ‘King’ Cole sang about you
"Mystic lady with the lovely smile"
It has been said
That men fell at your feet
And died there

Did men literally fall at your feet,
Are you who they say you are?
Or are you really
Caterina, Da Vinci’s mother
Or Isabella D’este?

Or is the mystery that you are
A well disguised self portrait?
Of the very artist
Showing the feminine side
Of a man afraid?

Barbara M Lake
March 2011
Trinidad WI

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spiritual Baptists in Trinidad and Tobago


Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day


The origins and early development of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist religion in Trinidad are not well known but the consensus is that the religion developed among the people of African descent during the nineteenth century.

It can be found throughout the Caribbean under various names but according to  spiritual Baptiste writer Hazel Ann Gibbs de Peza, the names Spiritual and Shouter Baptist is specific to Trinidad. It is a unique religion, comprising elements of both Protestant Christianity and African doctrines and rituals. It is also one of the few religions indigenous to Trinidad. With the exception of Orisha, all other religions were brought to the country by either European colonizers or Indian indentured labourers.

The term Shouter was given to the Baptists because of their tendency to shout, clap and sing loudly during their religious services. It was a derogatory term imposed on them by mainstream society. During their fight to have the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance repealed, the Baptists decided to use the term Spiritual Baptists instead of Shouter Baptists in an effort to gain some respectability for their religion.

There are four theories that place the roots of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist religion in Africa, North America, St. Vincent and Grenada.

The first theory suggests that certain practices of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist faith can be traced directly to Africa. While researchers agree on Africa, there is some dispute as to where in Africa. Religious practices from Dahomey, Kongo, West Africa and Yoruba have all been identified as being similar to that of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptists in Trinidad. The African theory is not well documented. 

When Trinidad became a British colony in 1797, there was a new influx of settlers. A group of former American slaves who had supported Britain during the War of American Independence, were rewarded for their loyalty.
They were given freedom and grants of land in south Trinidad. They formed “company villages“ which were named after the military companies in which they had served (Henry, 2003). For example, Fifth Company, Moruga. These settlers brought their Baptist faith with them.

This explains the four Baptist groups in existence on the island - the London Baptists, the Independent Baptists, the Spiritual Baptists and the Fundamental Baptists.

Yet another theory suggests that the roots of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptists can be found in the migration of fundamental Protestants known as “Shakers“ from St. Vincent to Trinidad during the early part of the twentieth century.

(Ref) Viola Gopaul-Whittington  in her book History of the Spiritual Baptist & Writings

In addition to the African influence, there was also the Protestant Christian influence on the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist religion. Among the influx of settlers to Trinidad after the island became a British colony, were the British themselves. They brought the Anglican religion with them. This, together with the African rituals and customs, greatly influenced the direction of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist faith.

Although the origins of the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist faith in Trinidad can be traced to foreign countries, it has evolved over time to become a unique, indigenous religion. It has managed to fuse the spontaneity and rhythms of Africa with the restrained, traditional tenets of Christianity to produce a religion that is vibrant, expressive and dynamic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Behind the Smile

Mag 59 

  Photograph courtesy Tess Kincaid, Magpie Tales


To me my dear
It's very clear
Why you look so sad
You cannot smile
To beguile
Because your teeth are bad

Barbara M Lake©
March 2011
Trinidad, WI



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Failed Charms


Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

It was a duel to the death
Thrusts clashes lunges
Harsh rhythmn
Metal meeting metal

A backward jump onto a step
Pursued then held
Against a pillar
Steel through flesh

He lay on the cold stone ground
His sword beside him
Tassel bloodied
Scrunched and matted

They prised his hand from his chest
Forced his fist
Blessed tokens
From his beloved

Lovingly picked pressed and dried
African violet and
Shamrock green
Failed lucky charms

Barbara M Lake  ©
March 2011
Trinidad WI

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Dream Dead People

When I dream of one of my late parents I tend to get concerned. When I dream of both of them in the same dream I get very worried!  I have long ago, come to the conclusion that they are not calling me 'home' but are more than likely warning me of some impending unpleasantness.

So when I dreamed very vividly last night, of both my parents in very strange circumstances, on waking I knew I had to be careful.  Everything in the dream pointed to deceit.  I am not superstitious but I do believe that the Spirit is talking to me and that He  sometimes uses my parents as the channel to get to me.  After all, I listened to them when they were alive (for the most part!!)  - why on earth wouldn't I listen to them when they are in heaven?

It was an extremely disturbing dream.  

Whilst my father was in the dream in that I was with him in a car and we stopped off  on our way to a wedding to buy cigars, my mother in the form of a sick baby was the prominent one.

I had nothing to wear for the wedding but somehow I ended up on the church wearing a beautiful hat and suit. I was carrying a baby wrapped in a white muslin cloth and the baby was very ill.  I told everyone that the child looked like six months old but was in fact sixty four and was not a baby at all, but my mother.

A surgeon male friend (who as far as I know is still alive!) came to me and told me that I needed to get the baby into medical care and he would arrange it.  I followed him from the church into a hospital room - all the time carrying and talking to the baby who I knew was really my mother.  I was telling her that it was going to be all right and that she would live whilst in my mind, I knew she would not survive her illness. 

I was still wearing the wedding outfit which was black and red.  The baby (my mother) began to vomit - the colour of the vomit was sky blue (as in a perfect day) and it looked like blue washing powder. There was a lot of it and comparing it to the colour of the sky is the only way I can describe it.  I held the baby up and away from me so that I would not  get dirty but when I began to cuddle her again, she decided to poop all over me!  My surgeon friend told me that I could not go to the wedding in that outfit and that I would have to change.  My clothes were soiled as was the blanket. Nurses were walking by and touching the baby's cheek and I was explaining to them that this was no baby but my mother who all of a sudden was making what appeared to be a miraculous recovery.   She was now sitting up on the hospital bed and seemed to be almost adult again - not quite but almost.  She was smiling and talking but I cannot recall what she said.

In many dream dictionaries, excrement in a dream supposedly represents money, wealth, profits or tangible value and is a lucky omen pertaining to material gain.  I am not sure that I believe that - we will just have to wait and see but I do know that  weddings, soiled clothes, babies, illness are said to be, amongst many other things,  signs of deceit and/or scandal .

I am already aware of the scandal and I know where the deceit came from and continues to  come from.  I know where the knives are coming from too but I also know that my mother and father had and still have my best interests at heart and will continue to come to me in dreams when I'm trying to dodge the knives!

What's your interpretation and do you believe that warnings can come to you in dreams?  Or can our dreams be put down to overactive minds, too much television (not in my case!), vivid imagination, the sub conscious or some deep rooted, long forgotten childhood experience that we'd rather not deal with?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Light a Candle

My friend Jacqui
Has asked
That we
Light a candle 
I am asking
That we light
A candle
Say a prayer 
The victims 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wedesday & Duct Tape

Today is Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils) used to anoint those about to be baptized, though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the priest who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross first upon his own forehead and then on each of those present who kneel before him at the altar rail. As he does so, he recites the words: "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

(We don't kneel at the altar rail - there isn't room - those days have long gone.)

The priest or minister says one of the following when applying the ashes: "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. (Book of Genesis)

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." (Gospel of St Mark)
"Repent, and hear the good news." (Gospel of St Mark)          

So Lent is a time for reflection, repentance and reconciliation for believers. Better rush tomorrow and get my Lent off to a good start and that means ashes. In my case it also means duct tape because keeping my mouth shut when certain untoward things happen is difficult. And during Lent I try to be a better person! 

The above for  the most part,  is a re post.  Anyone who has been following me for at least a couple of years knows that for Lent,  I always ask for plenty of  duct tape - wholesale!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A French Classic


Photograph courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

A cast iron
Le Creuset pot
On a hot plate
Crushed garlic
In sizzling
Olive oil
A kitchen filled
Enticing aroma
Starting point
Of a classic

Barbara M Lake
March 2011
Trinidad WI

Sunday, March 6, 2011

J'Ouvert - The Start of Carnival!

The above photograph belongs to Barbara M Lake and is not for publication without permission 2006

We are moving into Carnival proper here in Trinidad . The Soca Monarch Finals in the Dimanche Gras Show are taking place as I write and the parties continue.  All of this  leads us into J'ouvert which starts at 4am tomorrow morning (Monday) followed by the start of the 'greatest show on earth', the street party that is Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

J'ouvert is the raw heart of Trinidad Carnival. It is a massive, night-time street party and procession which crystallizes in central Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades. Really it is a continuation of the season’s 'fetes', parties, of the night before as tens of thousands of revellers spill out onto the streets from about two o'clock looking for more fun. They dance till dawn and beyond - J'ouvert (pronounced jouvay) is a creole corruption of the French jour ouvert meaning day break or morning and signals the start of the bacchanalia that is Carnival.

J’ouvert is full of symbols of culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud Mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs covering themselves from head to toe and others in paint, chocolate, mud, white powder or just about anything that sticks. It is J’ouvert custom that no one is clean and a common sight is a being hugged by a muddy revelers. 

This traditional part of Carnival starts at around four in the morning and finishes after sunrise. Calypso, Pan and Soca music are the dominating sounds of J’ouvert in Trinidad and the mass of revellers take the street party wining and chipping their way to the Savannah in Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades.

The roots of J’ouvert in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. The French never colonised Trinidad, however elements of their culture remained. J’Ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800’s, which were night time celebrations where the landowners dressed up and imitated the negres jardins (garden slaves). Following emancipation, the newly freed slaves took over Canboulay, now imitating their former masters imitating them. 

Canboulay revellers, who carried lighted cane torches, were seen as a potential risk by the authorities and the tension mounted leading to the Canboulay riots. It was eventually banned, and then was re established as J’ouvert. The Canboulay Riots are now acted out in the streets during the week leading up to Carnival. The spectacular costumes represent characters and events from the history and folklore. Moko Jumbie Bats, Bookmen, Baby dolls, jab molassie, devil mas are all traditional Carnival characters that capture the elements of the past, and continue to tell the story.

So here we go again, when crime will be at an all time low between Monday and Tuesday, when people have spent thousands of dollars on costumes they can't afford, when there will be integration of all the races that make up Trinidad and Tobago without any trouble (by Ash Wednesday they will be ignoring or fighting with one another again!), when non-stop music will fill the air, when visitors from all over the world will come and spend their US dollars, UK pounds and Euro dollars. 

It is a lovely time and the only thing that threatens to spoil it at the moment is the strong possibility of rain!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mama Dis Is Mas!

It's Carnival weekend. Then Carnival Monday and Tuesday.  Most people are well into carnival mode and I cannot get anyone I want business wise today at all!!  So I may as well go with the crowd!

My daughter in law's nephew is competing this evening for the Junior King of Carnival title.   He has won one title this season so we are all keeping our fingers crossed for the big one!

I know I've already posted the video below but it is being tipped to be Road March.  Of course it always sounds better live but I wanted to share some of what it's like here.  In this clip you can see Machel dancing on the roof of the music truck.

For all those out there celebrating - have fun and be safe!

Mama dis is mas! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sour and Sweet


Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

Lemon meringue
Cherry pie
Lemon curd
Strawberry jam

Lemon wedge
Red snapper
Lemon slice
Pink gin

Lemon tart
Cranberry muffin
Lemon chicken
Raspberry lamb

Yellow lemon
By any other name
Would taste
Just as sour

Red berry
By any other name
Would taste
Just as sweet

(With thanks and apologies to Shakespeare!!)

Barbara M Lake
February 2011
Trinidad WI
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