In 1812 Britain and America were at war. Exhausted from the Napoleonic Wars and needing to increase its fighting strength on American soil, the British Army made a historic proclamation. In return for taking up arms against their former masters, African slaves were promised freedom and land after the war had ended.  Known as the Colonial Marines,

these fierce black soldiers were to make a critical difference

in the war.


The River of Freedom is an inter-disciplinary work

designed to creatively engage young people and

families about an amazing part of history that until

recently has gone largely unreported.

of FREEDOM, through a Masterwork of art, music and literature. Serving as a catalyst for immediate engagement, the Masterwork awakens ideas and emotions and leaves students curious and wanting to know more.

Following the war, between 1815 and 1816, over 500

disbanded soldiers were sent to Trinidad.  Their arrival

had a huge impact on the island. Known as the ‘Merikins’,

these people were brave, tenacious and determined to

thrive despite being virtually abandoned by the British in

Trinidad's tropical forests with nothing more than the shirts on

their backs.


As far back as Plato, who said, “music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul,” we have known that music sustains memory in a way that words alone cannot.  Through artful learning a student experiences and responds to large concepts, such as the concept 

This is the second collaboration for the creative team of The River of Freedom, who worked together to produce a critically acclaimed

     Caribbean version of Little Red Riding Hood that premiered in

                 Trinidad in 2011, with subsequent performances in London

                        and New York. The team has developed a unique blend

             of music, art and words that draws on the richness of

                      Trinidadian culture to tell stories that resonate


Designed to engage, entertain and educate audiences about a courageous people deserving of our attention, through the literary, visual and musical arts, The River of Freedom is our most ambitious project to date, intended to raise awareness about the importance of freedom through artful learning.


                 The descendants of the Merikins continue to celebrate their ancestry to this day.  The Black Freedom Fighters,

who fought with the British as the Corps of Colonial 

Marines in the War of 1812, took their liberty into their own

hands, liberty that for other African Americans would take

another 50 years and a bloody civil war to achieve. 

© 2017 by River of Freedom




Vincent Wilkinson Foundation

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