younger dancer goes through her daring Bongo dance between
to knocking pieces of bamboo.
Photo: Angelo Marcelle
Steeped in a syncretism of African and Methodist religion,
the Wake and Bongo has been around for along time in Tobago.
Dry biscuit was the normal fare at this ritual, perhaps
because it was usually the people of the poorer class who
held the wakes, and dry biscuits were sufficiently affordable
to cater for the large crowds that would gather every night.
Two Tobago villages are renowned for their Wake and Bongo
ritualsWhim and Charlotteville. At this years
Tobago Heritage Festival, re-enactments were held on July
21 in Whim, with Charlotteville hosting its event on July
When a person dies, the coffin is actually built in the
yard of the deceased by family and friends.
After the burial, family members and friends host a Bongo,
which consists mainly of songs, dance and song games.
What is most apparent in the ritual however ,is its explicit
sexual content. In fact, this is welcomed, with maximum
Games like Brown Girl in the Ring and Diamond in the Ring,
with routines of hugging, kissing and choosing of partners,
add to the sexual appeal of the ritual.
Children were not allowed to partake in this ritual because
of its sexual nature.
This years presentationHis Luck Run Outwas
staged on July 21 at the Whim Hard Court. The play follows
the life of a married Tobagonian man who is unfaithful to
his wife with a Trinidadian woman.
Eventually he leaves and goes to live with the outside woman
only to realise that she is averse to cooking, cleaning,
washing or practically doing anything for him.
The old saying the grass does always seem greener
on the other side quickly comes to the mans
He returns home to reconcile with his wife in Tobago, but
as he is about to make love to her, he suffers a fatal heart
attack. Thus the plays theme, his luck ran out.
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