Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Veteran bandleader sticking with traditional route


Mark Fraser

ONE of the biggest bands in today’s Kiddies’ Carnival is set to defy the new route announced by the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) and follow the traditional trail from downtown Port of Spain to the Queen’s Park Savannah.

Bandleader and long-standing designer, Rosalind Gabriel, said yesterday she will risk disqualification and take her band, Colour my Culture, along the old route, as she regards the new passage as winding and “cruel” to the children.

Gabriel is also an executive member of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA), a breakaway faction of the NCBA that was formed last year by persons dissatisfied with the workings of the latter.

The TTCBA is headed by one of the country’s latest bandleaders and former King of Carnival, Mas Passion’s Gerard Weekes.

Weekes also said yesterday he is in support of the stance taken two weeks ago by PoS Mayor Raymond Tim Kee, that the Kiddies’ Carnival should observe the traditional route. 

In a telephone interview yesterday, Gabriel said she intends to “stand up” to the NCBA and is curious to see whether the NCBA will be allowed to disqualify her and the children in her band for their actions.

The NCBA has proposed a new route that sees Kiddies’ Carnival starting at Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook, proceeding east along Ariapita Avenue, along the Lapeyrouse Cemetery, across Tragarete Road to Cipriani Boulevard and then to the QPS.

Gabriel said the new route was unnecessary and will be hard on the children and their handlers.

She said it was also a “gross disrespect” to take the mas out of downtown PoS, where it was born.

“Why change it?” Gabriel asked, referring to the old route.

“Many children are coming from outside Port of Spain and are coming through City Gate. It is hard now in terms of transport to take them to Adam Smith. It is also harder on the children, because whereas with the old route they were protected by the buildings on Frederick Street from the sun and wind, they are now exposed along the Avenue and will also be going against the wind.

“Many of them have large costumes and this will be very difficult from them. It’s cruel.”

Gabriel said the new route also doesn’t take into account the general safety of the hundreds of children, as they were easier to manage and look out for along the straight route.

“Bandleaders do not like to come across as protesters but I am among one of the bands that will be taking a stand,” Gabriel said, though she would not disclose how many bands will today fly in the face of the NCBA’s instructions.

“We are sticking to the old route. I would like to see whether the NCBA will be allowed to disqualify children who standing up for their rights.”

Gabriel said consultation on the new route was poor and that the NCBA is demonstrating the very traits that drove many members out last year, leading to the formation of the TTCBA.

“This is all unnecessary and controversy has no place in senior of junior Carnival,” she said.

“I am appealing to anybody who is listening to put a wrong right.”