Mass Carib for 50 Years of Trinidad & Tobago Independence!


On the 25th August, the eve of this year's Notting Hill Carnival, many of us will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence for the Caribbean islands of Trinidad & Tobago.

Now a Republic, the island was colonized by the Spanish and then changed hands many times across centuries of slavery and colonial rule. The birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, chutney and limbo finally won its struggle for Independence from the UK in 1962.

To celebrate, the Trinidad & Tobago High Commission in London has organised a month long jubilant commemoration. The Tricycle Theatre, in Kilburn, has already been transformed into the "Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Village" for the Olympics. Tomorrow evening (Wednesday 22nd August), Nitro - the leading black music theatre group - will be performing Mass Carib to celebrate Independence.

Mass Carib is a musical setting of the full Mass by composer Felix Cross MBE. The performance reflects upon the struggle from slavery to Independence. Sung in Latin, English, French Patois and Yoruba, it draws on historical, cultural and spiritual references from across the Caribbean, but particularly from Trinidad & Tobago.

Trinidadian-born Felix Cross remembers hearing the country's national anthem for the first time in 1962, on Independence Day, as Trinidad & Tobago's distinctive bold flag design was raised. His musical display has previously been performed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, and as a Requiem to remember the victims of the Haitian earthquake.

Mass Carib follows the journey of Africans enslaved and shipped to the Caribbean and their forced conversion to Christianity, the religion of their oppressors. This resulted in the rise of many syncretic religions - blends of African and Catholic beliefs - that exist throughout the Caribbean and plantation America: for example Shango in Trinidad; Santeria in Cuba and Voudon in Haiti. Mass Carib powerfully evokes this crucible of belief and celebrates the presence of the vital and complex cultural entity that is the Caribbean.

Mass Carib at the Cultural Village will be performed by eight singers, a steelpan quintet and two percussionists. Admission is free! (Tickets must be booked in advance.) Go to or to find out more about Independence Day events in the UK.

Philippa de Lacy