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Wed, 08.01.1838

The Canboulay Festival, a story

*On this date in 1838, the Canboulay Festival is affirmed.  This is a precursor to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

The festival is also where calypso music has its roots. It was originally a harvest festival, at which drums, singing, dancing and chanting were an integral part.  After Emancipation (1834), it developed into an outlet and a festival for former indentured laborers and freed slaves. These were people banned from participating in the masquerade carnival events derived from European Christian traditions of the colonial elite, and whose drums and religious observances were also outlawed in the late 19th century.

Consequently, Canboulay has played an important role in the development of the music of Trinidad and Tobago, for it was the banning of percussion instruments in the 1880s that led to the surreptitious innovations that gave birth to steelpan music. It is re-enacted in Port of Spain each Carnival Friday in Trinidad.


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