28 April 2011

Trinidad Caribs Looking for New Queen

Caribs look for new queen
Published: Thu, 2011-04-28 in The Guardian
Brent Zephyrine

The process of selecting a new queen of the indigenous Carib community “will be a challenge” if adequate financial provisions are not allocated to the successor of the late Valentina Medina. So said president of the Carib community, Ricardo Hernandez Bharath, in an interview yesterday. Medina, 77, who had been ailing with cancer for three years, succumbed last Saturday, having served ten years as queen of the Carib community in Santa Rosa. Bharath said the queen, whose office was for life, acted as the official representative for the Carib community and made appearances at various events, fulfilled the duty of community consultant and functions as the chief public relations liaison for both visitors and students.

He said at present, the post did not come with a stipend and believed that something ought to be done to provide some relief in that regard. “If you want to give of that office a kind of respect and dignity, I believe that some sort of assistance from some government department must be afforded to that person,” Bharath said. He added that “it would be a challenge to appoint” a successor if stipends were not provided since it was necessary to assist the queen “in her day-to-day engagements, in preparation to attend functions and receive visitors” among other particulars. “We assist her with a little when we get our annual subventions,” he said.

“Apart from that, we depend on contributions from visitors, school children, the sale of art and craft and the little indigenous foods we do but it is not consistent, nor is it enough.” Asked to outline the procedure for the election of a new queen, Bharath said where the “queen did not name a successor,” the community would meet and nominate candidates who they felt were best suited to carry out her functions. “If there is just one nomination (which is unopposed) and it is accepted, that person will be made queen and where there is more than one nomination, then an election will take place and the majority will stand,” he said. Bharath said the requirements for the new queen “will need to be a bit more advanced” when compared to the past and more emphasis would need to be placed on “the qualities of the person.”

“In the past, you just had to look for someone knowledgeable of the Carib traditions, devoted to the Santa Rosa festival and committed to living a good life but today, it will require someone who can interact with the public,” he said. Medina’s funeral service will take place tomorrow from 2 pm at the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church, Woodford Street, Arima. Her body will lie in state at the Arima Town Hall from noon to 1.15 pm, after which there will be a procession through the streets of Arima. Medina will be laid to rest at the Santa Rosa Cemetery where Bharath will perform a special burial ceremony. Monsignor Christian Perreira of the Catholic Church will preside over the funeral service.

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