I had planned to write some more on the season of Lent, which should create increased holiness and spirituality that this penitential season brings to us. But that has been overtaken by the many possible missteps, some perceived, others real, in my view, taken in the recently concluded Carnival celebrations. They seemed to have taken in the many different facets of our most talked about festival.
So, Trinidad Carnival, which for decades has proudly worn the slogan ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, has lost some of the glitter, glamour and gloss of the celebrations, making me doubt that the description still holds.
The days of ‘big mas’, which showcased so many exciting and earth-shattering headpieces, capes of yards of velvet, enviable wire-bending pieces and a variety of colourful costumes, seem to have given way to a bikini, beads and feathers genre.
Carnival as an annual masquerade street party, with players expressing themselves freely and uninhibitedly in many different ways with their costumes depicting historical events, military and comedic influences, has become caught up in a frenzy of greed, avarice and competition, making the celebrations, apart from losing its traditional touch, ripe for corruption of all sorts.
Let’s look at the Republic Bank Exodus Panorama fiasco and their wishing to change their tune for the finals night, an issue which seemed simple enough but which Pan Trinbago thought to be an unusual request and which ended up in court.
Years ago, the St Augustine-based band took Pan Trinbago to court and was victorious. It happened again this year and they won again. But why do we have to settle simple requests in court? Isn’t there a certain amount of freedom in choosing what tune you want to play? They placed way down in the results.
While we ponder on ways to improve the Panorama competition, I believe some thought should be given to having a Panorama competition only for Tobago bands.
Such a move may spawn more bands in Tobago and obviously more youngsters would want to participate. Further, Tobagonians won’t have to wait until Carnival to have such a competition. Additionally, the first and second winners could be invited to compete in the Trinidad finals.
Then there’s the ‘Band of the Year’ controversy. The band K2K and Associates was adjudged this year’s winner. It was truly a band full of colour and from my standpoint, deserved to win.
But all hell broke loose and people were raising all kinds of objections that a medium sized band could win the title. But it would seem that the rules allowed for it. Bandleaders took for granted that only large bands could cop the prize.
Results of another Carnival event which cast a shadow on the celebrations was the sought-after Road March title—the tune played by a majority of bands crossing the big stage in the Queen’s Park Savannah.
A count showed that the declared winner was ‘Famalay’ sung by the trio of Machel Montano, ‘Bunji Garlin’ (Ian Alvarez) and Vincentian national ‘Skinny Fabulous’ (Gamal Doyle) with Kees Dieffenthaller’s ‘Savannah Grass’ running a close second.
Kees said afterwards the authorities should think about allowing the spectators to have a say in the Road March battle with the introduction of a ‘Peoples’ Choice’. This idea was taken up by someone on social media which showed up Kees as being a sore loser. He vehemently denied this.
Calypso Monarch did not get away from being embroiled in controversy. It seemed that everyone agreed that young Rivaldo London won fair and square but second-placed Karen Ashe sung a composition that seemed to denigrate Spanish-speaking women who were coming to our country for various reasons. Noticeably, the several local women’s groups we have did not utter a single word of protest.
That apart it must be noted that for the last seven years, the national Calypso crown has all been won by young people—Ashe, Duane O’Connor, Roderick ‘Chucky’ Gordon (2), Devon Seales, Helon Francis, and now Rivaldo.
But it is a known fact that Carnival is bacchanal and we are simply maintaining that tradition.