Saturday, February 17, 2018

Let there be mas

IT took all of three days, but the authorities finally got it right yesterday when the top brass of the Police Service, the Defence Force and the Minster of National Security finally held a joint news conference to update the public on the alleged conspiracy of violence and to assure that security systems are in place for a safe Carnival.

This is the level of leadership that was required from day one when the decision was made to go public on a matter that immediately triggered international headlines with potentially damning consequences for Trinidad and Tobago and its Carnival, among people both at home and abroad.

Still notably absent from the frontline is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley whose personal management style since taking office has been revealed as being rather hands-off.

Whatever his managerial preferences, the leadership responsibility of a prime minister is not to be confused with that of a line minister of other agency leaders. Nobody expects Dr Rowley to do the work of the police.

What the public would want to know is that he is on top of a situation that has major consequences for individual, community and national security, the national festival and the country’s international reputation which has taken a beating since Thursday.

If he has another explanation for being silent at this time, we are sure the public would like to hear it.
In his absence, the people of Trinidad and Tobago have nonetheless been making their own presence felt by continuing to throng Carnival events.

On Saturday night, thousands attended Panorama finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah to witness the return of Renegades to champion’s row after 21 years. It was a huge victory for the Charlotte Street steelband which, from the start of the season, had emerged as the band to beat.

Renegades’ commanding performance of Duvonne Stewart’s arrangement of Aaron “Voice” St Louis’s “Year for Love” impressed the judges enough to give it a seven-point lead on its nearest rival, Skiffle Bunch, playing Kees’ “Hello”, arranged by Marc Brooks, Kendall Williams and Odie Franklin.

For the San Fernando band, running second to Renegades was a victory in itself, given the steelband powerhouses that it leapfrogged on its way to 280 points.

With Renegades’ victory, Carnival 2018 is now cemented as the “Year of Love”, providing the perfect theme for welcoming the Merry Monarch in T&T. Like the music, Trinidad Carnival has a power of its own to heal, soothe and rejuvenate.

Give or take a few points of discordance, our Carnival is a mass celebration of life and living. It has defied various exclusionary tactics to survive as a space of inclusion where anyone and everyone can find their place within it.

It presents us at our very best. Inside Carnival, we fulfil the destiny envisioned for us by South Africa’s anti-apartheid legend, Bishop Desmond Tutu, when he toasted us as the rainbow people.
As we hit the streets today, we urge you to live the mission of the “Year of Love”.  Look after yourself and everyone else around you. Play it safe and play yuh mas.