Tapping into the Trinbagonian diaspora

Members of Kobo Town came into the crowd and entertained High Commissioner Karen L. McDonald (right) and her husband Bruce White during celebrations.

Drew Gonzalves (left), originally from Trinidad and Tobago, leads Kobo Town during the concert in Port of Spain.

Locally-Engaged Staff of the High Commission in Port of Spain enjoy the concert, a true reflection of the diversity of which both Trinidad and Tobago and Canada can boast.

High Commissioner Karen L. McDonald (second from right) and her husband Bruce White, enjoy the offerings of Drew Gonzalves on the cuatro and Jan Morgan on the trumpet (originally from Guyana).

When it comes to ties between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, there is certainly a lot to celebrate. Canada is home to a significant Trinbagonian community, with roughly 100,000 individuals living mostly in the Greater Toronto Area. Over in Trinidad and Tobago, over 6000 Canadian citizens make the islands their home.

Every once in a while, these two communities have the opportunity to come together. The High Commission of Canada in Port-of-Spain hosted a celebration in which they tapped into the Trinbagonian diaspora – and brought world-class entertainment home to Trinidad and Tobago.

Taking advantage of the extensive people-to-people ties between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, the event featured a performance by Canadian-Caribbean combo Kobo Town, who helped to showcase Canadian musical talent and tout the successful integration of peoples of Caribbean origin into the fabric of Canadian society. It was an opportunity to highlight Canada’s unique multicultural heritage and celebrate a flourishing relationship with Trinidad and Tobago.

The event, held at the Hilton Trinidad, was attended by just under 300 guests, who were treated to a wonderful performance by this band whose repertoire made for an enjoyable, foot-tapping performance.  Many in the audience were even motivated to leave their seats and dance in the aisles to the sweet strains of the most upbeat musical numbers.

Founded by Trinidadian/Canadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves, and composed of musicians born in Trinidad, Guyana and Canada, Kobo Town is named after the historic neighbourhood in Port-of-Spain where calypso was born, amid the boastful and humourous chants of roaming stick-fighters.  

Exploring the rich lyrical tradition and compelling rhythms of calypso's formative years, Kobo Town also strives to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of their art by addressing the pressing concerns of our time. Domestic violence, the war in Iraq, the paradoxes of globalization, the ongoing state of Caribbean dependency, and the bittersweet experience of immigration are all treated within their wide and varied repertoire.

Nominated for an Indie award, a Canadian Folk Music Award, and an International Folk Alliance award, Kobo Town’s debut album Independence has received rave reviews from the international music press, and the band’s performance at the High Commission was equally well received.      

"Merging calypso, roots reggae, acoustic performance, dub studio techniques and Trinidadian/Jamaican cultures, Kobo Town is a unique, stylistic, transnational composite of rhythm, poetry and activist journalism," says Brent Hagerman of Exclaim! magazine.

While in Trinidad and Tobago, Kobo Town also performed at a benefit concert, demonstrating that tapping into the diaspora is not only possible, but also very beneficial in fostering connections between individuals and communities.