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Zante Dancers dance down the aisle of the movie theatre before the 7:30pm screening of Black Panther

Tobago celebrates Black Panther’s Winston Duke and Sekani Solomon

The Division of Tourism, Culture & Transportation fetes the Tobagonians involved in Black Panther

The Division of Tourism, Culture & Transportation (DOTCT) of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) hosted a special cultural showcase to celebrate the premiere of Black Panther at MovieTowne Tobago. Tobagonians came out in full support in an array of African-inspired fashion and costumes.

Globally, movie-goers and theatres have been creating cultural experiences at the film’s screenings, with African-inspired fashion and music being used to celebrate the positive depiction of African culture and the African continent in the critically-acclaimed film. The Division felt the need to emulate this experience in Tobago not simply because it was trending, but also because of the involvement of two sons of the soil involced in the ground-breaking movie.

Tobago-born actor Winston Duke portrays the prominent character M’Baku, while fellow Tobagonian, motion designer Sekani Solomon, worked behind the scenes on the main end titles for the movie.

In recognition of their achievements, the entrance to the theatre was transformed into a stage where from 6:00pm, spectators were treated to live music from the Tobago Drum Association, and African dance performances by the Novek Dance Theatre and Zante Dancers.

Patrons for the 7:30pm screening for the film were also treated to an exclusive video address by Mr. Solomon, who introduced the movie and gave high acclaim to Mr. Duke’s performance.

“Having seen the movie for the first time and seeing Winston’s performance, it was utterly amazing to me,” Solomon said. “The guy is just so talented. He really also inspired me to continue honing my craft and keep getting better and better at what I do.”

Mr. Solomon also gave a nod to his small-island origins, while encouraging his fellow Tobagonians to strive for success. “Doesn’t matter where you’re from,” he said, “if you’re really, really passionate about something and you really want to be good at what you do, it’s just to keep at it.”

Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, Councillor Nadine Stewart-Phillips echoed Solomon’s sentiments, highlighting that this was one of the primary reasons behind the Division’s decision to host the showcase.

“It is very important for us to not only recognise but celebrate the amazing work our Tobagonian brothers were able to produce in one of the most talked about and celebrated movies thus far for 2018,” Secretary Stewart-Phillips said. “As the Division strives to promote more participation and appreciation for the Arts in Tobago, it is these types of success stories that we hope will inspire other Tobagonians to pursue their creative passions and strive for excellence both within the island and beyond.”

The Secretary was among the majority of attendees at the cultural showcase who were bedecked in their finest African-inspired fashion. Tribal prints in an array of colours, intricate head-wraps and even a few crowns were spotted as Tobagonians presented an image of African royalty, inspired by the fictional African country of “Wakanda” in Black Panther, as well as by Tobago’s celebrated African roots.

For more on Winston Duke…

MEP profiled Winston Duke in the January/February 2018 issue of Caribbean Beat, and ran a full Q&A (January 2018) and a mini profile (March 2016) on Discover Trinidad & Tobago‘s website.

Winston Duke. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Winston Duke. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Event photos

Here are some photos from the DOTCT’s Black Panther premiere event.

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Caroline is an editor and staff writer at MEP. She is also on MEP’s board of directors, and moonlights as an actor, singer, and director. She’s passionate about telling stories – on the page, on the stage, on screen – and in particular about documenting Caribbean lives and events. She’s currently trying to master unplugging from her iLife… For more: http://www.carolinetaylor.info.