Brooklyn Celebrates The Tobagonian Diaspora

The Tobago Empowerment Alliance & Mission, Inc. (TEAM) last Sunday hosted the Tobago Fun & Family Day celebrating and honoring the Tobagonian diaspora in Canarsie’s Seaview Park,

The event featured local food vendors, dancing, music, and congregation of many descendants and natives of the two-island Caribbean country. Many wore the red, white, and black as the theme of people’s clothing and attire, and the country’s flag colors which represent natural elements and the all-encompassing past, present, and future.

Many of the local vendors came from well-established restaurants, and the cuisines featured all types of Tobagonian meals. Some of the meals ranged from beef pies to curry crab and dumplings, without an honorable mention to souse, a Trinidadian broth with pig feet (or chicken feet), vegetables, and added seasonings.

Many Trinidadian beverages complemented the food with tropical-flavored shaved ice drinks, sorrel, a drink made from the hibiscus plant, and mauby, a fermented soft drink made from mauby bark, sugar, and other rich spices.

Dancing and good food were a big part of the day. Photo by Louric Rankine.

TEAM is a non-profit organization started in Brooklyn, four years ago and designed to promote a positive and promising social change by culturally educating and empowering growth in the Tobagonian diaspora. The non-profit organization presents financial assistance, donations, and grants to programs that uplift the youth of the Caribbean diaspora.

Jimmy Touissant, public relations officer of the program, stated, “Part of TEAM’s mission is to identify and liaise with community groups/organizations in the homeland and the diaspora, who are doing good works and making a positive difference in the lives of individuals. As such, we give annual monetary donations to these groups in furtherance of their work. At the Tobago Day yesterday, one monetary donation of 5000TT was given to Ball Blasters of Bethel, Tobago.”

Ball Blasters is a football academy based in Bethel, Trinidad and Tobago.

The event comes two weeks before Trinidad and Tobago celebrate their 57th anniversary of the West Indian country’s independence from the United Kingdom. 

The event blasted soca, calypso, chutney, and raspo music, all genres with African roots, while different youth and children dance groups took to the center of the Canarsie park to represent Tobagonian culture, receiving the praise of the crowd surrounding.

“I feel proud to be from Trinidad and Tobago!” a Trinidadian attendant proclaimed, with red and black dyed hair representing her Trinidadian flag.

TEAM hosts three other events in one year: Blue Food Explosion, an exploration of authentic Tobago menus hosted in mid-May, Cocoa Tea Brunch, a self-titled afternoon treat hosted in late July, and a Meet and Greet Holiday Party hosted a week before Christmas Day.

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