On Thursday 27th. January , 2010 ,friends, family , relatives and members of African Traditional Spiritual fraternities gathered at the Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church ,situated at corners of Park and Henry Streets to pay final respects to Agba Gloria Baptiste member of the Dangbe Comme community , one of the oldest documented African free communities here in Ile – Iere . Republic Trinidad & Tobago.
The Dangbe Comme community was led by Abojevi Zahwenu who was born about 1800 on the continent of Africa.
Having arrived in Trinidad and Tobago Hobonou Zahwenu kept up his ancient African Traditions and his home and ” yard ” became a major compound for the converging of Ancient spirits invoked by Ancient rites. The State Authorities having an intolerance towards manifestation of African forms eventually charged Hobonou Zahwenu for worshipping ” little black images as gods ” and practicing ” obeah ”
It is this self same community that is now know today as the Antoine compound.
In the very near recent pass this community was led by the Hobonue Sedley Antoine a Hobonou of charisma and gentle character who began the return walk and move to fully re – incorporating the Ancient spiritual paradigms of the Vodoun / Rada traditions. A Committee was formed to return and visit the origins of this community inspired by the research of Kwaku Senah , but before being able to accomplish this mission Hobonou Sedley Antoine returen to the space / realm of the Ancestors.
All during the leadership of Agba Sedley, Agba Gloria played her Matriarchal role at the compound. Like many of the members of the family – direct descendants and close friends and relatives of Hobonou Zahwenu , Agba Gloria for some time now lived outside of Trinidad & Tobago. Each year family members made the home journey to the Belmont Ancestral space and performed their family rites. Agba Gloria was a regular and constant part of these rites.
After Agba Sedley returned to the Ancestral realm , Agba Patric assumed the role of chief celebrant leader of the Dangbe Comme. He too soon joined the Ancestors. The leadership was then taken up by the biological son of Hobonou Sedley – Henry Antoine , who until her death was supported by Agba Gloria Octavia Baptiste.
The funerary service was conducted by Father Clive Harvey who noted the historical moment and situation that has arrived at the doorstep of Dangbe Comme
Fr. Harvey acknowledged the debt that Trinidad & Tobago society owes to the contribution of this family and community. He suggested that the young in the community take special interest in their community’s history and to recognise the significance of the passing of Agba Gloria especially in this International Year for People of African Descent.
Also present at the burial rites were many members of the Spiritual Baptist and Orisa communities. One member of the orisa community of long standing of the orisa community whose parents were of long standing with the Dangbe Comme community known affectionately as “Jinx ” was most present at this send off.
Babalorisa “Jinx ” recalled some of the ” old days encounters ”
After the Church services the funeral went to the traditional burial grounds of the Rada / Dangbe Comme where the body was interred. Family members gathered after to share memories and to eat and drink.
May the Dangbe Comme / Rada community survive this challenge. May the young members of the family recognise the challenge and rise up to it.