Sunday, February 18, 2018

Inexplicable gaiety


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We have commenced 2013 with Carnival on top of us before we could finish sleeping off the entry of the New Year. I refer to sleeping off the New Year, not insensitive to the virtue of readers regular in their sobriety. I do so because of the firework terrorism to which we are now subject and which leaves every one groggy on New Year's morning and at other festive times.

This firework terrorism is another anti-social habit, which our poorly governed country has sat back and allowed to flourish on the margin of laws, which if not of ambiguous content, are ambiguously enforced, thereby permitting enormous profit to be made by a minority.

I begin 2013 fearful of the ever-growing, oppressive chaos of life in the republic and sad for the powerlessness we all feel when oppressed by the fireworks and other negative forces, such as the road hogs, endemic corruption and a crazy-ants Parliament.

Having just passed a law to abolish preliminary inquiries,the Parliament un-passes it. For its next trick,the Parliament schedules legislation on the constitutional relationship between Trinidad and Tobago for debate in the middle of a Tobago House of Assembly election, made more vicious by Hilton Sandy's contemptible racist remark.

As the chaos grows, as the anti -social citizens appear to be winning, as politics remains the choice of Bim or Bam and governance continues to be the practice of form over substance, except when preferred pockets are to be made strong, my frustration grows that we are proving that Naipaul's caricature of us was deadly accurate in many respects. Despite his snobbery and his contempt for us, which turned my stomach when I first read The Middle Passage late in my teens, I have to accept that we are playing the caricature.

I remind readers that Naipaul's central thesis in The Middle Passage is that we are a materialistic society in which every person grasps what can be grasped for self, without regard or loyalty to any value set. This, he said 50 years ago, has given Trinidad "its special character, its ebullience and irresponsibility" and has also given us "a gaiety, so inexplicable to the tourist who sees the shacks of Shanty Town and inexplicable to me who had remembered it as the land of failures".

I contest that we are a land of failures but we do have profound institutional failures and the bad results of them are all around us. Yet today we are a month away from the peak of the annual period of greatest abandon in our republic and in the middle of all this, admittedly in part because of the express time constraints in the Constitution, the nomination of a new President comes up. Hopefully the calibre of the newcomer will be sufficiently high to avoid the stamp "Another Ole Mas President" sticking to him or her.

Why and how we live in such a state of paradox are complicated issues but the gaiety is inexplicable unless you live and regularly get your head bounce here. Even as I quote the phrase "inexplicable gaiety" and adopt it as my headline, I am bouncing my head against the form over substance character of our governance. There are expensive, official advertising boasts about equal opportunity but nearly every Minister and the political satellites run like a thief from the mere mention of equal opportunity regardless of sexual preferences, even though they fete and dance with the best of "them".

As I quote the reference to Shanty Town and rejoice that we no longer have the old one, I am intensely aware how our Governments have nevertheless failed the disadvantaged. As a pan movement advocate, I am also very aware of the high level of indifference to the unique musical accomplishments created in many disadvantaged communities.

January mornings are dark. That signals that Jouvert and the exhilaration of sunrise or rain at dawn over a bomb tune are around the corner. That makes me happy and I peep at my sailor suit already. My happiness is explicable because the brilliant music is the product of rebellion and a search for identity by people rising above disadvantaged conditions.

I am proud to live in a place that has such music and in a place in which the music makers are advancing their craft and moulding youngsters in their yards against the odds of their surrounding environment.

By means of the tender ministrations of the management of Woodbrook Playboyz those of us who frequent that yard on Fridays have been treated to SuperBlue at close quarters and I have had the pleasure of having him sing at home in my yard. SuperBlue's journey from deep South to town is a triumph over disadvantage. His re-appearance in Soca Monarch will confirm indigenous music and dance as the root cause of happiness in an otherwise worsening,chaotic overall situation.