De Original Dexter Stewart and Associates

De Spirit of de Stick

The hand of the enigmatic Dexter Stewart holds a photograph from his early days as a Moko Jumbie. Point Fortin—12th March, 2020.

A Moko Jumbie is a guardian spirit which, as with Kalinda, roots its power within the Stick. It is descendant of West Africa, however uniquely Caribbean and quite different from the stickwalking traditions seen in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, and other countries of that region.

Moko Jumbie manifestations across the Caribbean islands vary to some extent, but share enough in common to suggest frequent communication of the artform between the islands over the near two centuries since the end of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

The late John Cupid dated the arrival of Moko Jumbie onto Trinbago (Trinidad and Tobago) as the 1830s. Recollections by Percy Fraser (brought forward by Bridget Brereton) include lively descriptions of 1870s Carnivals in Port of Spain (Conquerabia) in which giant Moko Jumbies danced sticks through the streets.

In spite of this long history, at least one gap in the heritage seems to exist: Photographer David Lee Hai, born in 1942, recalls seeing no incarnations of Moko Jumbie in Trinbago during his most active years of work in the 1950s and 1960s. Photographer Desmond Clarke, who intently photographed Carnival for an overlapping time period, says the same. If the tradition hadn’t stalled completely in those days, it at least faded from prevalence.

Back in de Earlies

“I alone!”

These are the words of Point Fortin native, Dexter Stewart; “When I start walkin’ Moko Jumbie, it was I alone!”

Born in 1964, many of Stewart’s early days in the borough were spent playing in New Lands with his friend, Horse. He recalls using lengths of bamboo as stilts; Standing on offshoots and holding onto the main stalks as ‘handles’ in order to walk them. These childhood experiments culminated in an appearance at the 1974 (or 1975) Children’s Carnival:

“Wow! Look at that!” exclaimed the day’s MC as Stewart strode tall into the performing area wearing an innovated costume consisting a dress borrowed from his mother. For his efforts that day, Stewart won a $10 TTD voucher which he used to buy a school pants from Chan’s.

Distance running was also a big part of Stewart’s life in those days and he would regularly practice along the beaches surrounding Clifton Hill. On one of those runs, a fateful encounter would stand him onto a proverbial giant’s shoulders.

John Cupid

Two influences prevail as giants in the story of Point Fortin: Trinbago’s oil industry and John Cupid.

Cupid was a keen thinker and historian with an understanding of the deep importance of advancing the tales of a culture. During the days of Trintoc, he worked at the Point Fortin office in the marketing and community relations field. In this position he was pivotal in the activities of the ‘Trintoc Cultural Workshop’ which began in either 1981 or 1982.

Dexter Stewart remembers hearing Cupid’s voice over the radio as he put out calls for, “bringing back all oldtime Carnival characters.” On an evening run in Clifton Hill, Stewart sighted John Cupid and ran up to him proclaiming, “Mr. Cupid, I could walk Moko Jumbie!” Cupid immediately became excited and started making arrangements to get Stewart supplied with a proper costume and ready to perform. “Now for now, I mean within the next day or so, he came down by me and get his niece to sew the first Moko Jumbie clothes for me.”

Apart from Stewart (Moko Jumbie), Cupid sourced practitioners of: Wild Indian mas; Molasses Devil; Fancy Sailor; Dragon mas; Bat mas; Burrokeet; Midnight Robber; Dame Lorraine; The Bookman; and Rope Jab (aka ‘Jab Jab’). Through his influence and ingenuity, he created opportunities for these skilled performers to earn income, grow, and teach their skills, thereby propelling the traditions forward to the newer generation.

An initiative Stewart recalls as ‘Mas Watch Mas’ allowed him to observe the practices of an older—more experienced—Moko Jumbie from the US Virgin Islands, Dave Robeson. “Dat is Moko Jumbie!”

Dexter Stewart, shows a photograph of a Moko Jumbie who was an important mentor during his early days, the late Dave Robeson. Point Fortin—12th March, 2020.

Dave Robeson

Dave Robeson (1952–1998) was the grandson of Paul Leroy Robeson, the famous US singer and activist. The Director of Ancestral Spirits (USVI), Dave Robeson, became something of a mentor to the young Dexter Stewart, coaxing him to advance both his skills and stick technology.

Back before meeting Robeson, one of Stewart’s worst falls had taken place. It happened on the courtyard of Central Bank Twin Towers, Port of Spain. The floors were tiled and polished. Stewart, after strolling his sticks up the steps to the court, immediately slipped and skidded, impacting the rock-solid ground hard. Luckily no bones were broken, but the injury would continue to pester him for years to come.

Robeson would come to advise Stewart away from his existing stick design; “He say I need to bend meh knees…” Although no longer his original, hand-held, bamboo model, Stewart’s 1980s iteration used to be tied at the upper thigh, thereby allowing no bending of the legs. Following Robeson’s suggestion however, the sticks would be cut down to the patella, as remains common today in Trinbagonian sticks. (NOTE: Knee braces didn’t exist yet and would be invented in the 1990s by Moose of Cocorite.) Robeson had also suggested rubber padding onto the bottom of the sticks for greater traction on slippery surfaces.

A deeper mythological understanding of the artform was also taught to Stewart, including the idea that a Moko Jumbie must be an enigma. This resonated with Stewart who already moved in mystique; “Yuh see meh an’ yuh ain’t see meh.”

Stewart always emphasises that “Moko Jumbie and stiltwalkers is two different things.”

Moko Jumbie is a spectre. “…Ah ting start, yuh see ‘Bam!’ a Moko Jumbie come out do he ting; everybody eyes on de Moko Jumbie, right? Ah next scene change—some dancers come out and dey start to ting—So everybody now, dey watchin’ de dancers. When yuh look for the Moko Jumbie?… He gone!”

Moko Jumbie, Dexter Stewart, shares a very quick glimpse at an important piece of his costume; a ‘skirt’ made of separated rope fibres. Point Fortin—12th March, 2020.

Big in de Dance

In 1985, at the age of 21, Stewart left Trinidad to seek his fortunes on a Canadian farm. He, and others from the Caribbean, would work fields, harvesting fruits for roughly half-year stints before returning home to the islands. When he could, he continued to practice at Niagara on the Lake, and also took part in Toronto’s Caribana.

His period of Canadian farm work ended six summers later when Founder of Malick Folk Performing Company (and good friend of John Cupid), Norvan Fullerton, gained Stewart’s contact.

Years of astute work had gained Fullerton a strong reputation as a man capable of pulling together hefty productions. In 1992, when Carifesta was carded for Trinbago for the first time in history, Fullerton sought out the most reliable performers he could enlist. Bajan Moko Jumbie legend, Jeffrey ‘Ifie’ Wilkinson was called, and also Dexter Stewart.

Success at Carifesta V led to exciting, new opportunities.

The following year, Stewart appeared at the Soca Monarch Finals, Kaiso Semi-Finals, Clash in the Savannah, among other events. At the 1993 Calypso Semi-Finals, he performed alongside fellow Point Fortin native, Austin ‘Superblue’ Lyons.

Stewart mobilised a group of his stickwalking students under the banner ‘Dexter Stewart and Associates’. They were recruited by Norvan Fullerton for various shows, including the 1995 Carifesta VI and a Dimanche Gras production featuring costume designs by legendary Masman, Wayne Berkeley. Some of these walkers, including Ellis Pompey, would go onto join the UniverSoul Circus of Georgia, United States. Stewart himself would be part of the circus for a couple years.

Adventures in Foreign

In 1996, with funding from the Borough Council of Point Fortin, Stewart took part in a cultural exchange programme with Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington State. There he met with Brian Honore—well known for portraying the Midnight Robber—and other representatives from Trinbago.

Stewart’s forays into the US continued in 1998 with his participation at the ‘World Carnival Conference’, Trinity College, Connecticut, coordinated by Professor Milla Cozart Riggio. The event saw practitioners from Carnivals all across the globe including Brasil, African countries, and the Middle East. Noted anthropologist and cultural advocate for Trinbago, JD Elder, was part of the local contingent.

In 2000, at Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Stewart taught stickwalking for two hours every weekend as part of a summer programme. The sessions were partnered with Norvan Fullerton’s Malick Folk Performing Company teaching Afro-Caribbean drumming.

During these years even the infamous ‘Beast of Punta Cana’ materialised. Neil Giuseppi, a Trinbagonian news anchor, formed a company hired to produce an opening ceremony in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The production meant to portray a story of redemption with a ‘Beast of Punta Cana’ (played by Dexter Stewart upon his sticks) morphing from a dragon-like figure into a benevolent form via a tricky costume change. Because of its size and intricacy, Stewart could not swap costumes himself. The plan was contrived that Norvan Fullerton and four Spanish-speaking strongmen would therefore catch Stewart and carry him through a narrow gap in the backstage’s scaffolding for that shapeshift. During execution however, an incident which Stewart continues to find hilarious took place: Stewart was in his heavy ‘Beast’ costume, his body fully encased from view. He dropped into the arms of the men to be carried through the narrow scaffolding, Fullerton holding him near the Beast’s shoulders. Midway through the gap, Fullerton found himself caught unexpectedly overloaded with Stewart’s weight but completely unable to communicate with the Spanish-speakers! He urgently used what few words of Spanish he knew—as deperately as he could. The men, meanwhile, gawked at him flatly, puzzled, and unable to decypher Fullerton’s distress! Through all this, Fullerton recalls feeling Dexter “shaking with laughter” inside his costume as he supported him. The stagehands eventually figured it out and rushed to aid.

In 2005, after defeating Bahrain 1:0, Trinbago qualified for the following year’s FIFA World Cup; the first World Cup qualification of the islands’ history. A contingent of Trinbagonian performers went with the ‘Soca Warriors’ to Germany to support the team and perform in the streets around the football stadia. Stewart was there, performed, but unfortunately fell ill—possibly with chicken pox—and had to “stay back” in quarantine after the dismally brief Trinbagonian World Cup campaign ended and all others returned home to the islands. Alone with his sticks, upon recovering and becoming safe to fly, he ventured into the airport where a further misfortune befell. In his own words:

“When Ah reach by the airport, meh Moko Jumbie stick in meh bag, Ah reach by de counter… Dey tell me seven hundred and fifty Euro [to transport the sticks]… [I] never forget that; Seven hundred and fifty Euros! This is meh stick that Ah have here; me and dem alone. Me ain’t have that money. Me ain’t have that money at all! Ah say a’right, Ah come out de line; take meh Moko Jumbie stick; put it into a corner wit meh bells—I used to have bells… [take] out all meh name tag [and] everyting, [and] leave he in a corner. […] That was a hard decision to make. […] I had to leave that and go.”

Stewart was able to return home, but sadly his sticks—with their bells—were sacrificially left behind.

Back Home

Today, Dexter Stewart, the mysterious Moko Jumbie man, is back in his cherished borough of Point Fortin. He earns his living as a skilled welder, still walking sticks occasionally, and spending time with Horse, his past students, and his family.

His work was a big inspiration to Junior Bisnath of nearby San Fernando; a man who (like Glenn ‘Dragon’ DeSouza of Cocorite) devotely teaches sticks to the children of his community, thereby securing the future of the Moko Jumbie tradition.

Ellis Pompey, one of Dexter Stewart’s students, forged himself a decade-long career at UniverSoul Circus. So too did Dean, Nealon ‘Rattie’, Shaka, Marlon ‘Robbers’ (who also worked awhile at Ring Ding circus), Corey, Selwin, Bevon, ‘Creamy’, Khadeen, Crystal, Bob and others all earn livings using the skills passed on.

And so, as the Kakilambe welcomes new Life and growth into the world, the ‘Spirit of the Stick’ dances ahead—its rhythm ready to guide new generations into its movements.

One of Moko Jumbie’s modern pioneers, the mysterious Dexter Stewart, shares some of his stories during an interview at his Point Fortin home. Point Fortin—12th March, 2020.



Thanks to Dexter Stewart for inviting us into his home and lending us so much time and patience during several interviews, phonecalls, and WhatsApp messages. Thanks to Horse and Ellis Pompey who also gave of their time, let alone agreeing to be part of our livestreamed interview attempt on 26th July, 2020.

Thanks to Norvan Fullerton, Moose, David Lee Hai, and Desmond ‘Sir’ Clarke for their wisdom, contacts, and conversations which helped flesh out the timeline of events.

Thanks Arnaldo James for coming to our rescue with incredibly valuable information about livestreaming. Thanks Aliceyard + Granderson Lab for use of the space. Thanks Kriston ‘Fearless Leader’ Chen and Joshua Lue Chee Kong for first inviting us into this adventure known as ‘stickwalking’, let alone providing the inspiration to look deeper into the Trinbago Moko Jumbie story (and Trinbago history more generally).

Thanks Maleika Samuel for reading endless edits, double-checking poor grammar and spelling, and listening to grumpy moments when progress was frustrated. Your support was / is crucial!

Massive thanks to Catherine CK Sforza for her willingness to scour the length and breadth of Trinidad to make all of the interviews and conversations come together, and teaching all about ‘flow states’ and allowing things to happen, even when they seem like they may not.

Lastly—and most fervently—thank you so much for reading!


Artist, Joshua Lue Chee Kong, presents his current concepts and prototype artist for a small audience at Idlewood Bespoke. Topics being discussed include 3D printing, bronze casting, and mould making.

The Pride Parade II

In spite of grey skies and damp weather, the second Pride Fair and Parade takes place in Trinidad and Tobago.

Sticks by Central Bank

As part of International Museum Day 2019, Sticks in de Yard—along with Tekel ‘Salti’ Sylvan, Jada ( #jadarocks ) and Carnival Queen 2019, Shynel Brizan—were all invited to teach and perform in the courtyard of the Central Bank, Port of Spain.

Daniel Bascombe, Kriston ‘Fearless Leader’ Chen, and Shaun Rambaran were on hand to teach the approximately two dozen young persons who wished to try walking stick. Tassa drummers and a small steelband also were present to exhibit their respective disciplines.

The Central Bank Money Museum was first opened in December 2004 and displays historical currency of Trinidad and Tobago as well as items from the past of the Central Bank itself.

Run for Food

A group of costumed mascots from Carvalho Productions participate in the 2019 ‘Run for Food’ 5K.

Organised by Massy Stores, in collaboration with the World Food Day National Committee; the Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Fisheries; and Rainbow Warriors Triathlon Club, the event states the intention of promoting food sustainability through the supporting of local producers and farmers.


Held on the Friday before Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, ‘Canboulay’ is a reminder of what makes Trinbago Carnival unique, and why Carnival in on the islands is celebrated the way it is.

A section of Piccadilly Street, Port of Spain is cordoned off and flanked with bleachers, turning part of the road into a stage. The event begins before sunrise, at roughly 04:00, with a re-telling of the history of the Canboulay Riots. This is performed as a play, and portrays the descendants of freed, African slaves coming against opposition of their Carnival celebrations by the British government of the early 1880s.

The theatre concludes roughly around 05:30, around the time the black sky begins to blue. The ends of the roadway are opened, allowing varieties of musicians, tamboo bamboo, jumbies, jab, whipmasters, and other forms of oldmas to perform their ways through.

Yard Core

Arranged by the ‘Sticks in de Yard‘ group (formerly known as ‘#1000mokos’), ‘Yard Core’ is a weekly initiative to get a group of stiltwalkers Carnival-fit in time for the 2019 Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

The walkers meet at Queen’s Park Savannah Grand Stand, then after some stretching and warmingup, they begin their lap of the 3.5km Savannah perimeter in the hot, midday sun.

Some of the walkers will go on to join one of the small handful of traditional mas / oldmas Carnival bands as moko jumbies. 2019 expects to see another presentation by Alan Vaughan’s Moko Somõkõw coming out of Belmont, as well as a portrayal by Adrian Young’s Future Jumbies of Tarodale, Trinidad.

De 2018 Walk

2018 was a year dense with exhilarations, adventures, challenges, places, peoples, thoughts, ideas, learning, and experiences for the Sticks in de Yard group—formerly called #1000mokos.

The year saw (among other things) an intense participation in the 2018 Carnival with Moko Sõmõkow, visits to Wildflower Park and the 2018 New Fire Festival, oldmas presentations by Joshua Lue Chee Kong at the Port of Spain library, all sitting on top of the fortweekly Sticks in de Yard sessions at Alice Yard, Woodbrook.

Sticks in de Yard aims to tackle 2019 hard, beginning with the leadup to the 2019 Carnival, and hopefully seeing a few exciting and ambitious opportunities openup if all goes according to plan.

Fieldwork in Bush Bush

South of the Nariva Swamp, after a rough drive from the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road, can be found Bush Bush Forest Reserve. Expecting there to soon be a primate rehabilitation project, Sinead Stewart has chosen to write her final Masters of Science research paper on the ‘Density of the Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculas insulanus) in the Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary, Trinidad, WI’. The aim is, “To calculate density of this species and compare it to other sites in Trinidad and the neotropics.” Her findings should help clarify some of the behaviours, and also the status, of the species, thereby helping to inform future conservation decisions.

Guided by Dr. Luke V. Rostant, Lecturer in Ecology, The University of The West Indies, Sinead has been regularly striking out into the bush, making what would become a total of thirteen excursions between the end of August to the beginning of November, 2018. Tough logistics are exacerbated by her living on the opposite side of the island, in Port of Spain, and needing to arrive into the bush at dawn. “Monkeys move early so the earlier the better. We actually found that when we start the walk before seven, we got more sightings.” The 2018 rainy season—which had only recently caused heavy flooding across Trinbago—added further complications.

The method of her research involves following the firetrails maintained by the Forestry Division of the Environmental Management Authority, keeping her eyes and ears sharp for evidence of the somewhat elusive monkeys. Upon monkey-sighting, Global Positioning Satellite data is noted, and the perpendicular distance of the sighting from the trail is recorded using a handheld rangefinder. The hikes can take roughly three hours, with about seven kilometres of walking. On rainy days, the firetrails are prone to flooding or turning into sticky mud which can steal boots.

Sinead took the initiative of recruiting her own support team, including her friends and fellow ecology students, Anupa Puran and Bria De Costa with her on a few of her excursions.

Her completed paper will be presented in December, 2018.

The Launch of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2019

Drifting VIII

Photographs of downtown Port of Spain made on Kodak Portra 400 on the 17th June, 2017.

A Prince’s Estate

Guided by its new owner, Eric Lewis (also known as ‘The Prince of Moruga‘), Joshua Lue Chee Kong and friends visit an early twentieth century Moruga cocoa and coffee estate. In an effort to be monitised, the estate has been called the ‘National Cocoa and Chocolate Museum and Heritage Complex of Trinidad and Tobago‘. The Prince intends to do extensive restorative works in the coming years.


Three months after a swelling of attention on the concerns of many Trinbagonian LGBT+ persons—centred around what would prove to be a successful challenge of the TT Sexual Offences Act 1986 by Jason Jones—Trinidad and Tobago’s first ‘Pride Fair and Parade‘ is held, arranged by the TT Pride Arts Festival Committee.

It is a partly cloudy, bright but cool afternoon, on 28th July 2018 at Nelson Mandela Park (previously called ‘King George V Park’). Gathered within a circle of tents, paraders bedecked in various colourful outfits eat, drink, and celebrate to soca music, awaiting the organisers’ signal to take to the streets. Horizontally-striped rainbow flags are visible in every direction, intermittent with a couple transgender flags and a few red, white, and black TT national flags. Dancing ensues, while clear instructions are given that this is to be fun and celebratory event, and that engaging in confrontations during the parade will not be condoned. A contingent of TT police are on hand to help ensure safety and to direct the flow of traffic.

Eventually, at close to 15:00, the parade takes off. With a music truck at the head, then vibrant revellers (some of whom in prettymas elements), then a shuttle, and an ambulance at the caravan’s tail, the parade cannot help but take on a feeling of a being miniature TT Carnival band. Many varied races, ages, sexes, genders, and sexual-orientations dance and sing together as triumphant Caribbean music plays and the parade slowly winds around Nelson Mandela, turning onto Tragarete Road. Curious onlookers appear, many stopping whatever their previous objectives to intently watch and record on mobile phones.

By 15:30, the convoy moves past the Queen’s Park Oval toward Gray Street, stopping for awhile to allow its deputation to fully enjoy dance sessions to ‘YMCA’ by the Village People and a spontaneous syncronised execution of what might be the ‘Electric Slide’.

The atmosphere remains light and jovial as the Pride Parade gets to its destination after around ninety minutes on the streets. Applause is given to the TT Police Service and the TT Red Cross Society’s ambulance service for their support.

Sports in de Yard

In the midst of the 2018 World Cup, a #1000mokos ‘Sticks in de Yard’ session takes place on 24th June 2018, at Alice Yard, Woodbrook.

Crick Crack

While Alan Vaughan and others work on Moko Sõmõkow at Granderson Lab, Belmont, Tracey Sankar of Crick Crack Traditional Mas works on her pair of presentations for the 2018 Carnival Monday, including a band of Dame Lorraine and also ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’.

One Love is de Anthem

Our history—from Amerindian ancestry, through colonisation and therefore governance by various European countries for short periods each, then a ‘Cedula of Population’ which saw indentured workers and migrants arrive from Asia and the Middle East—has left Trinidad and Tobago among the most culturally and religiously diverse places on Earth today. More than just ‘tolerant’, many persons born of the various cultures of Trinbago in fact actively participate in the others. This pair of islands could perhaps be an example to many other places of the world of how an assortment of diverse peoples can be, not only ‘multi-cultural’, but in fact ‘inter-cultural’.

On 1st August, 1976, the islands became a republic and thereby adopted its own constitution and laws, albeit heavily inspired by the accustomed British laws of that time. Trinbago’s first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, is often quoted, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I suggest to you that the time has come when the British Constitution, suitably modified, can be applied to Trinidad and Tobago. After all, if the British Constitution is good enough for Great Britain, it should be good enough for Trinidad and Tobago.”

A distant inheritance of that original bank of laws is what would become Section 13 of the Criminal Code as at the time of this writing, which outlaws ‘buggery’ as written in the Sexual Offences Act 1986, which says; “(2) In this section ‘buggery’ means sexual intercourse per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person with a female person.”

Concerns over potential negative consequences over that and one other section has lead Jason Jones, self-described as an ‘openly homosexual man’, to file a legal claim against the TT Attorney General in February 2017. The actions have lead to broader, islandwide discussions, questioning the role of government, the source of moral principles, and to what degree ought a country’s government be involved in the private and personal activities of individuals.

As the time draws near for the result of the challenge to be announced on 12th April, 2018, the discussions grew into a few demonstrations in the capitol city. On 6th April, 2018, an alliance of evangelical churches in opposition to the repeal of the sections, under the name ‘T&T Cause‘, hosted a march of over a hundred persons to Woodford Square at the centre of Port of Spain. In response, a coalition of TT LGBT+ activist groups under the name ‘Alliance for Justice and Diversity‘ gathered around the entrance to the temporary Parliament office at the International Waterfront Complex, to intercept Members of Parliament en-route to the building, to either engage in discussion or distribute packets of information for consideration.

The gathering—comprising many supporters of a wide range of ages, sexualities, and perspectives—expressed overall no anti-religious nor anti-Catholic sentiment (though most seemed to be in opposition to the opinions of T&T Cause), but instead wore signs and discussed with media and listeners about ‘rights’ and the view that the rights of citizens ought to be equal regardless of culture, creed, orientation, or perspective.

Views such as those, depending on one’s interpretation of the word ‘creed’, are directly echoed in the words sung repeatedly at the rally, the National Anthem of Trinidad and Tobago—A place where every creed and race is meant to find an equal place.


Power Stacks

The Introduction of Electricity to Trinidad

In 1886—only two years after the first long-distance AC line was built for exhibition from Turin to Lanzo, Italy—a group of Trinbagonian businessmen was granted a twenty-year franchise to run an electric power station and tramway system in Port of Spain. The Electric Light and Power Company was formed eight years later by Edgar Tripp. In March 1895, electricity was installed for the first time in Trinidad, and two of the earliest buildings to have electric lights were the original Queen’s Park Hotel and the Princess Building. The first streetlights were installed on March 5th, 1895. Shortly thereafter, in 1901, the electric and transport systems were bought by a Canadian businessman, establishing the Trinidad Electric Company Limited.


Roughly three decades later, after the end of an extended franchise, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GoTT—not yet independent) took Trinidad Electric Company and by 1945 (around the end of World War II) had decided to pursue an island-wide electricity scheme. Via the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Ordinance Number 42, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) came into being, created to generate electricity for distribution outside the already-electrified towns of Port of Spain and San Fernando.

In 1946 the Commission served 6,613 customers and operated one power station—the Port of Spain Power Station located on Wrightson Road. Supply served Point Cumana to Carenage, later extended to Arima, Sangre Grande, and along the Southern Main Road to Chaguanas. Electricity was first used in Tobago in this same year, but it was in September 1952 that the Tobago Power Station was commissioned and constructed on Darrell Spring Road.

Expansion and Natural Gas

The second decade of T&TEC (1956 to 1966)—concurrent with Trinidad and Tobago’s independence in August 1962 and adoption of the red, white, and black flag—saw electricity supply extend across the Eastern edge of Trinidad, from Rio Claro and Mayaro in the South, to Toco in the North. A Depot was opened in Rio Claro and the Electrical Association for Women was established.

The firing-resource for electricity generation was shifted from oil toward natural gas at around this time. An internal department of T&TEC, tasked with managing the natural gas supply to the Port of Spain Power Station, was fragmented from the Commission and established in 1963 as its own state-owned company, the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC). NGC managed a 16″ gas pipeline which fed natural gas from Penal to the Port of Spain T&TEC station. As of the date of this writing, this 16″ line remains in commission and is the oldest pipeline currently in operation in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Oil Boom and Point Lisas

During the 1970s, Trinidad and Tobago’s oil-based economy experienced rapid growth during a resource boom in oil. Construction projects expanded rapidly and played a major role in the economy during that time. In response, infrastructural upgrades were installed, including two new turbines at the Penal Power Station in 1976, and a Point Lisas Power Station opened in 1977. By 1981, the Iron and Steel Company of Trinidad and Tobago (ISCOTT) began making large power demands, using 40MW of power to produce 90 tonnes of steel for the first time in Trinbagonian history.


As the nineties came and the Commission’s customers started nearing 300,000, further structural adjustments were required. On 23rd December, 1994 a subsidiary of T&TEC was created—the Power Generation Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Powergen). Given the Port of Spain, Penal, and Point Lisas power stations, Powergen was tasked with electricity production, while T&TEC’s focus shifted toward the business of managing customer accounts, line repairs, and managing service across the islands. The subsidiary was owned 51% by T&TEC, with the remaining share split among private and semi-private enterprises, including the US-founded oil company, Amoco.

Decommissioning of the Port of Spain Plant

After approximately seventy years of service, on 14th January, 2016, the Port of Spain power plant ceased operations. The facility had become redundant by a larger supply of electricity being produced more efficiently at Point Lisas. This, combined with economic pressures due to falling oil and gas prices and a decreased supply of natural gas, then further exacerbated by the closure of the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Point Lisas, had lead to its decommissioning.

In November 2017, flyers were distributed to residents in the areas surrounding the facility that the building would soon be dismantled. Although it still stands as of 4th March, 2018, if and when it is removed, the Port of Spain skyline will be noticeably altered by the loss of the facility’s four distinctive stacks.


Moko Somõkõw

It’s a bright, dry Carnival Monday morning at Granderson Lab, Belmont. With the Queen’s Park Savannah several blocks away, the would-be stillness of the early day is undertoned by the distant, barely-audible thumping of the Savannah’s massive, bass speakers. It’s as though the chaos of the day to come is being foreshadowed. In a few hours, Moko Somõkõw will hit the road in full force!

Alan Vaughan, designer and one of main visionaries behind Moko Somõkõw, sits at a work station, lit by a sewing machine lamp. He’s been at at work since the small hours of the morning, driven to get everything right in time for the band’s moment to cross the Savannah stage. Shervon Clarke, a teenage stiltwalker, is wordlessly decorating and repairing his and a few other sticks. The sound of his staple gun punctuates the whirring of Alan’s machine.

In Alan Vaughan’s own words, Moko Somõkõw’s portrayal for this year is, “…retelling the story of Sundjata—which is famous throughout West Africa—and placing it here in Trinidad. Derived from ‘The Epic of Old Mali‘, King Sundjata returns from exile to reclaim his kingdom and found a great empire. In this mas, his spirit returns to Trinidad, to re-found a righteous country.” He continues, “The story also resonates because it is about overcoming hardship, and exile from one’s own country, and then returning to unite the various peoples through defeating the forces of evil and exploitation. This was our metaphor.”

With the band, Alan aims to highlight another aspect of Trinbago’s African ancestry. He says, ” ‘Africanness’ is often related here to Yoruba-derived culture, yet this is only one of many original cultures of the Africans who came here which are often overlooked. There was a large Mandingo, Hausa, and Fulani population in Port of Spain, with a Muslim heritage.”

‘Moko Somõkõw’ is derived from the Bambara language (‘moko somɔgɔw’) and means ‘Moko Family’. The masband intends to be “a collection of individuals who [like] the idea and [want] to play a mas together.” The final lineup features moko jumbies from #1000mokos (now called ‘Sticks in de Yard‘) and Future Jumbies. Daddy Jumbie, also known as Adrian Young, is band leader.

Across both Carnival Monday and Tuesday, the stiltwalkers will come to include (in alphabetical order): Damir Ali; Daniel Bascombe; Alexei Chang Kit; Kriston Chen; Shervon Clarke; Lester Doodnath; ‘Jada’; Joel Joseph; Brother Jumbie (Adriel Asseveiro); Daddy Jumbie (Adrian Young); Doctor Jumbie (Windsor Frederick); Future Jumbies (Jab Jab Jumbie and Sun Sun); Veynu Siewrattan; Hakim Sherry; and Alan Vaughan himself. The support crew will consist: Catherine Chang Kit; Akilah E-R; Skye Hernandez; and Josh Lue Chee Kong.

Of his career, Alan Vaughan—who had been designing mas since 2012—says, “All my mas presentations in Trinidad have been with Moko Jumbie. This is because, for me, it is the special spirit which inhabits the sticks—I feel very strongly that the spirits come to us through the sticks. This is not about dressing up.”

By the end of the 2018 Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, ‘Moko Somõkõw: The Magnificent Return of Sunjata’ would go on to win fourth place overall in their category of competition.

The Marathon

Thirty-five years to the date of this writing, the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon has been taking place. Beginning in 1983, it originally was known as the Mirror Marathon, titled for its main sponsor. Over the years, the event changed hands a few times, but always maintained. It became well-known during the era of CLICO’s title sponsorship until the eventual CL Financial fiasco of 2009/2010.

Today the Trinidad and Tobago Marathon Committee, headed by Diane Henderson, continues working on the event’s success and popularity. The 2018 edition expects to see approximately 400 participants and 100 relay teams cover its 42km~ distance from Saint Mary’s Junction, Freeport, to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.


“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”

—Lao Tzu

Early morning on Scott-Bushe Street, Port of Spain, burning incense with the sounds of daybreak in town. 24th and 27th December, 2017.

And Travel On

“You were put here to survive.
You are in charge of your life!
Never look back—look ahead.
Never say die ’til yuh dead!”

  • ‘Party Done’ (2015) by Angela Hunte and Machel Montano;
  • ‘Leh Go’ (2013) by Blaxx;
  • ‘Yuh Body Working’ (2012) by Kes the Band;
  • ‘Buff’ (2017) by Fay-Ann Lyons and Buffy;
  • The Journey‘ (1989) by Tambu.

Step Back

Goodnight, Ricardo.

Yeah, Drive’

Drifting VII