Carol Prince-Mandela

CALL FOR ‘GREATER CULTURAL ACCEPTANCE’: Carol Prince-Mandela and her husband Karega Mandela.

African drumming and traditional clothing will be on display all at Emancipation celebrations today.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of tomorrow’s traditional procession on the streets of Port of Spain out of a fear of a viral spread. But popular African clothing and accessories supplier Prindela Fashions have teamed with their customers and community drummers to celebrate the occasion at their Trincity location.

Owner Carol Prince-Mandela said their coming together is designed to both uplift the local African community and honour the ancestors. Prindela is an amalgamation of Carol’s ‘Prince’ surname and the last name of her husband rapso artiste Karega Mandela.

“The Emancipation procession is usually the highlight of our celebration. With no procession this year a number of my customers are having a serious tabanca. So we decided to do a little celebration at the store with a mini procession in the street. We have invited some drummers and some customers who usually do the procession to come and join us,” Prince-Mandela explained.

Strict pandemic protocols will be in place at the event, she maintained. As the country braces for a possible second wave of the virus she said they are following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines to the letter.

“Sanitisers, masks and social distancing will be in full effect. We also have proper facilities for handwashing. And we have extra masks for those who may turn up without one,” she said.

African fashion has become very popular the world over in recent years. A number of American and European celebrities have turned to the continent designers to outfit them for events and public appearances. African garb has also made its way into pop culture here in T&T. A number of local music acts have worn the wear on stage and party-goers have selected elegant African prints for all-inclusive events.

Still, Prince-Mandela said she gets curious glances and is sometimes questioned when she turns out daily in her African-wear.

“‘Them kind of clothing’ is a question I get often. Do you wear ‘dem kinda clothing’ all the time? Some see African clothing as a costume to wear around Emancipation. We have been trying over the years to educate our customers that this is our clothing that works for us. I have seen tremendous growth over the years but there is a lot more to do. I must say we have come a long way,” she said.

Saying ‘I Do’ to Freedom

Aside from the usual Emancipation period boost in sales Prince-Mandela says the store is seeing a marked increase in demand for wedding attire and accessories. It would appear a large number of brides have chosen Emancipation Day to have their own special procession down the aisle, she said.

“The focus these days are for outfits to go to work, but for some unknown reason there are many weddings on Emancipation Day this year, so many customers have been purchasing ceremonial wear. We have a constant supply of clothing and accessories coming to the store, so we are well stocked and prepared to meet that need” she said.

Whether in search of ceremonial or functional garb there is an item to be found for every body type and budget at Prindela Fashions, Prince-Mandela said. She recommends, however, that customers come with time to spare as it takes more than a minute to peruse their large collection.

“We are focusing on having some embroidered designs on most of the garments and we pride ourselves in having styles for all sizes, events and tastes. I always advise customers coming to the store not to come with little time, try to come with an open mind and some time to go through the wide variety,” she said.

On the eve of celebrating Emancipation Day in the middle of a global pandemic, Prince-Mandela called for greater cultural acceptance among the different ethnic groups in T&T.

“In this unique multicultural melting pot, respect is important. Embracing your culture does not mean disrespecting the culture of others; harmony in diversity is key. Self-love should not mean hate of others,” she concluded.


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