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‘Moving Forward’ at TSTT’s Emancipation pageant
Qhubeka, a southern African word meaning “moving forward”, was the theme of TSTT’s recent Mr & Miss Emancipation Day Pageant at the TSTT St Vincent Street car park.
The winner of the Miss TSTT Emancipation Day crown was Denice Caesar, of the Technology Division, who depicted Nigeria. In her talent presentation she gave a stirring rendition in which she declared she would not accept limitations on her progress based on the melanin of her skin. For this forthright monologue, Caesar also received the prize for Best Female Talent.
Her orange-coloured dress was designed by renowned fashion designer Heather Jones and featured pumpkin sleeves and the mermaid skirt indigenous to the Nigerian people.
Carol David, executive vice president of Human Resources, Industrial Relations and Corporate Support Services, celebrated all the winners. She said: “I love these events. They give us the opportunity to reflect. We will continue to grow this beautiful country that we call T&T. I am hoping that we all understand what this moment is about. It is about declaration, recognition...about saying to ourselves, we are contributors and we will continue to contribute in our own space and skin. We are an integral part of all those who came.”
Winner of the Mr TSTT Emancipation Day 2017 crown was newcomer to the telecommunications company, 25-year-old Johnathan Samuel, who depicted Tanzania. Samuel, an employee of the Brian Lara Promenade Retail Store, said he chose Tanzania, whose flag was represented by his costume of blue, green, black and gold, because “it represents a huge part of what I believe in terms of culture and people.” Samuel gave a polished dance performance wearing an African warrior costume. An accomplished dancer, he has been a student at the Carol La Chapelle Dance Co since he was 15.
He said he was “ecstatic, proud and shocked” at winning “because there was a lot of good talent on stage.”
“Having now entered the company, I just wanted to show my talent as part of the company,” he said. “I love it that TSTT makes this opportunity available.”
The show opened with a rousing drum call from the Wasafoli dance group. Then, African elder Baba Erin Folami offered up prayers as he paid homage to the ancestors and invoked blessings on TSTT’s staff and board of directors. He punctuated his prayers by pouring libations of water, palm oil, alcohol and honey.
The Wasafoli group then presented an electric routine of high energy African dancing.
University of the West Indies history lecturer Dr Gelien Matthews gave the feature address. She spoke on the theme Qhubeka—Freedom Through Mobility, in which she discussed instances of mass migration inspired by the desire to improve one’s lot in life.
Other winners for the evening included Akeem Branford of TSTT’s HR, IR & CSS Department, who won the prizes for the People’s Choice—Male, as well as for Best Dressed Male, and second place in the Mr TSTT Emancipation Day competition overall; and Dayne Job of the company’s Technology Division, who won second place in the Miss TSTT Emancipation Day competition, as well as the prize for the Best Dressed Female.
Akilah Andrews of Park Street’s Retail Store, representing Mauritania, won the People’s Choice—Female prize. Carlton Louison of TSTT’s Enterprise Department, representing Zimbabwe, took third prize in the Mr TSTT Emancipation Day contest. Crystal Toussaint, also of the Enterprise Department, representing Uganda, took third prize in the Miss TSTT Emancipation Day contest.
Prizes for best dressed member of the audience in African wear went to two employees of the HR, IR & CSS Department at TSTT: Dean Martin and Susan Mathison-Brereton.