When Stephon Felmine joined the video-sharing application TikTok back in March, he did so to pass time after the impromptu closure of schools due to COVID-19.
Felmine is a teacher at the Morvant Laventille Secondary School and while the Ministry of Education worked out the logistics of online classes, in his spare time, he joined the app.
“It was out of boredom really,” he said.
What Felmine did not expect was for his videos to go viral with tens of thousands of views for each, especially the ones he created himself.
“A lot of people like the ‘Ma’ skits,” Felmine said.
But it was the creator’s Trini Alphabet series that skyrocketed his following to 49,000, with over 50,000 views on each video. Starting with the letter ‘A’, the creator day by day went through the alphabet and found a local word for each letter. He then used it in a sentence.
For the letter ‘B’, Felmine used ‘Braggadang’ and for ‘K’ he used ‘Kilketay’.
With all his success, came some controversy as another creator @wellonyc from Guyana said Felmine stole his idea. Felmine said he had asked for permission to copy it.
“I actually credited him in the first letter I did which was ‘A’ so initially when I saw it I was like this looking like a good thing he doing, I thinking like a Trini series will be real nice,” he said.
Felmine said he sent a message to the Guyanese TikTokker but he did not respond so he went ahead.
“Him saying that I’m stealing his idea does not make any sense really. I took an idea from him and made it Trini oriented”, he said.
Felmine said his intention was not to steal anyone’s thunder.
Since the start of the series, many people thanked the content creator for the smiles he brought during the pandemic. Trinis abroad said the segments reminded them of home.
But the 30-second video takes more work than some may imagine and with many local words to choose for each letter, Felmine said sometimes there was a toss-up between him and his relatives who also help with the segments.
“O we had obzockee but I wanted to do ohioho. I like ohioho but Q was Quito Quito so it would have had an overlap,” he said.
“It have a lot of analysis,” he continued.
With the alphabet series completed Felmine has started the Trini number series and said his followers are giving him ideas for more local content.