Discussions, Performances, Street Parade for 2018 Ogun Festival October 5-7

A new play written by Eintou Pearl Springer on the Orisa Ogun will be part of the programme for this year’s Ogun Festival, a three day festival celebration of the Yoruba deity Ogun at the Ile Isokan compound Niles Trace Febeau Village, Lower Santa Cruz from October 5-7, 2018.

The Festival, which has been running since 2006, explores ancient and contemporary meanings of the Orisa Ogun.
Originally revered as the warrior, hunter and blacksmith in Nigeria,  that understanding has expanded to include responsibility for roads, forms of transport and technology, while in Trinidad Ogun is also regarded as the patron Orisa of the steelpan.
‘The play tells the story of how Ogun was the only Orisa given the power to transform minerals in the earth into metal and connects also to the evolution of the steelpan from the discarded oil drum. Ogun’s warrior energy is embedded in this instrument of spirit and resistance,’ explained playwright Eintou Pearl Springer.
The Festival begins at 6 p.m. on Friday October 5 with a discussion on ‘Manifestation’ in Trinidad  Orisa practice and features local Ifa/Orisa priests and practitioners.
On Saturday, the play will be preceded by storytelling from 3.30 p.m. led by Eintou Springer and graduates of the Mentoring by the Masters programme, who will also perform the play at 6 p.m.
This will be followed by a discourse on Manifestation in Nigeria led by Araba Olatunji Somorin of Ketus Ifa Academy which is spearheading a more studied approach to the discussion of African spiritual practice with an Ifa/Orisa focus.
Known as ‘catching power’ or ‘manifestation’, possession trance is described as a temporary alteration of one’s normal identity by an ancestral spirit or deity. The experience of being “possessed” holds different meanings in different cultures – from Christianity to Sufism to Hinduism – but is most commonly locally associated with African spiritual practice. The discourse will reveal some of the deeper social meanings of energy manifestation and how this affects our emotions, work interests and creative impulses.
‘The Festival comes to a close on Sunday with a street procession which serves as a celebration of Ogun as owner of the road and also appeals for protection of the community.’ said Oloye Ogunrinola Ogunbowale, head of Ile Isokan. Sunday’s closing celebration will also include steelpan and drumming.
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Beauty of the Battle

The learning is not just in the training, the hours spent memorising the lavways and the steps and the pain that comes when you lose concentration and you get hit with a stick on your little finger. The journeys to the gayelles are full of songs and anecdotes of past battles. Acid sings into the night, to dark roads that disappear suddenly off crumbling precipices: “Ah living alone, ah living alone in the jungle.”

Bois season is a time of fasting, from alcohol and meat and conjugal relations. From anything that distracts from the battle. The battle is waged in the mind long before the stickfighter enters the ring.

From a piece I wrote for the January 2015 issue of Caribbean Beat Magazine.
Read the original article here: http://caribbean-beat.com/issue-131/word-of-mouth#ixzz3OKgtUeuD

The NCC Regional Carnival Committee’s 2015 Stickfight Competition dates are as follows:

23rd Jan – Biche
30th Jan – Cedros
11th Feb – Skinner Park
To book workshops and demos for schools and clubs with the Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago call Rondel Benjamin at 498-2609
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On becoming a Stickfighter.

Just finished another stickfight lesson and am still in awe at the focus and discipline necessary to protect your head. One hand is stronger than the other so I’m working on having the same kind of response time with my left hand as with my right. But apparently because I’m an ‘ambi winer’ I should get the hang of it soon. The thing that’s struck me about learning stick is that flag waving is a complimentary artform. I find the movements are similar, as are the intentions. A flag woman is a thing of great beauty and abandon but also a dread warrior on whom an entire band is dependent for direction. The style I am learning is from Moruga – pretty stick’ they call it. In other words you get so distracted by the beauty of the dancing you don’t see when the bois coming to buss your head. It’s maths and physics and core strength and left/brain right brain coordination. It is also letting go and giving into to what the drum tells you do do with your body and let it speak a language you never thought you knew. Serious Ogun tings. The warrior in me is awakening.

Ogun and the Jouvay Warriors.

Doing research for a piece I’m writing about African retentions in Trinidad Carnival, I came across this.

The procession referred to as sagun (literally, “to run Ogun’s race”) derives its name from the fast tempo of the music and warlike-dance. Each individual or group parade is referred to as
Ologun(“Ogun bearer”)…. Every conceivable professional group in Ondo, except for the civil service and white-collar workers, participates in the celebration.
Most are dressed in rags and parade through the town with their bodies smeared with blue, white, and black paint.
They sing in praise of the deity and of their procession. The festival is an occasion to celebrate Ogun’s deeds and to display human workmanship.
The ceremony becomes an opportunity for a show of force by the individual medicine-Ologun and often creates a temptation for them to test their medicinal power in public and to confirm their superiority.
This aptly illustrates Ogun’s attributes as “the embodiment of challenge, the Promethean instinct in man, constantly at the service of society for its full self-realization.

Olopuna, J.K Kingship, religion and rituals in a Nigerian Community   Sweden, Almquist & Wiksell

Sound familiar?
We’ve been hinting at the links between Africa and Trinidad Carnival for a long time, but in the spirit of denial and prettification we’ve chosen to erase rather than celebrate what are some glaring and wonderful similarities between our Carnival and the masking rituals of West Africa, specifically the Yoruba.
And I get vex every time I hear the same recycled story about Carnival being a French thing that the Africans then used to imitate their masters. It never go so and it’s about time we start to explode those myths.
The truth is that the jouvay that got included in the two day Carnival celebration was initially an Emancipation celebration celebrated on August 1st. The procession started at midnight, was a mixture of solemnity, ritual, celebration and defiance.
It makes sense that the Canboulay was always a source of confrontation between the jamettes and the colonial authorities. And it makes sense that we should even as we confront the colossal stupidity and ongoing assness of this government, previous governments and I guess future governments, find new ways to use this still existing ritual to do the same confrontation with the authorities that needs to happen.
In light of all that is going on politically and socially in Trinidad right now, I am inclined to ask, for Jouvay 2013 what would Ogun do?