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'The Greens'must be destroyed

By Rubadiri Victor

The Greens must be destroyed. I'm clear of it. This is despite the fact that I spent most of Sunday there—so I know of what I speak.

It was carnal. Completely. And I needed that—but that was all it ever was and ever will be. It was also empty, devoid of "Spirit"—people wandered around lost, posing, waiting for something to happen that never did. This is what happens when you detach a people from the ritual that sustains them. In the absence of culture, they need substances—alcohol and gimmicks—to bring them to something resembling liberation. The death of Carnival is in that impulse. This is the same culture that overtook European "carnivals" from the 1300s, resulting in their death. When Carnival becomes a drunken orgy, it can be competed against by any distraction. Nothing, however, can compete against ritual and belief. Our question then: how do we make those-who-we-have-lost believe again?

I don't know any other country in the world that abandons its next generation of customers, its youth and its inheritance to a competitor. This is exactly what PanTrinbago and the NCC have done. Everywhere in the world the opposite pertains. Huge amounts of resources and brainpower are invested in finding ways for traditions to remain relevant—to create bridges... The NCC has ensured that in 20 years there'll be no Panorama—but an all-inclusive that can be sunk by "Beyonce in Concert"! Contrast this to museums in the US which have already computed demographic figures for the next 100 years and realised minorities will then be majority, and that minorities represent only one per cent of current museum visitors—so the future of white-bread traditional museums is at stake. They're creating programmes to answer this reality. European and American museums are constantly innovating displays, programmes, and buildings to bring in younger audiences.

Our leaders don't understand the power of "great design". The billions in profits for Apple products, Nike and Ikea exist because of great design. The multi-billion-dollar successes of Manhattan, Chicago, Dubai and Paris as cities exist because of great design. What is it that we don't get?

The Grand Stand is for the Golden Age Carnival crowd and experience. Design it so. Decor, food, games, trivia, dress, attendants, experience. The North Stand is for the cultured spirit of Trinidad—who knows how to fete without disrespecting the Pan, to whom the names Desperadoes, Fonclaire, Phase II mean something. Design it so. Give them the memorabilia to deepen their understanding of the culture they celebrate... Design to bring "de Roots" back to the "Track"... The Greens is where the new generation is: ignorant, philistine, alcoholic and carnal. An Americanised generation with Trinbagonian instincts. Deepen those instincts. Let this be the great experiment between modernity and tradition—let Pan be inescapable and its crowning glory. Massive screens with the bands on stage. A brilliant sound system blaring the pan selections and performances, forcing the Greens to listen. Pan stalls and memorabilia everywhere. May it never be far from their consciousness that the reason they're there is Pan!

Also let the rhythm sections go where they're screaming to go. There's a new music that wants to emerge from our rhythm sections. It's waiting for our sound engineers, a new generation of chantuelle, the stage, and context to emerge. When it does, it will take over. Listen to me with this one. Panorama is the place where this signal was sent to us. Finally, Panorama needs its new muse since Kitchener. I suggest it will come from one of his three heirs: Rudder, Kernal Roberts or yes, Iwer George! Also melodic popular party tunes must supplant those boring formulaic "pan tunes". These are pan versions of crap formulaic Dimanche Gras calypso, and formulaic Malick/Shiv Shakti-type variety shows. They represent what politicians have reduced "culture" to. This public service-isation of culture must be destroyed. Art must come from tradition, inspiration, and invention—not formulas for judges and politicians.

Carnival is not an "event"—it's a ritual. It comes from a "sacred" place. The oldest type of sacred—from five ancestral fonts, mixing here to create the ultimate festival. The sooner we understand this and stop treating it like a "fete", the better. If we understood this, we'd understand Dimanche Gras is the coliseum of the Monarchs of our Carnival. That's what it is. It's the final, biggest gayelle! It's not "a show". Each monarchy exists because of our people's need to crown a part of our creative collective soul...

Imagine this: we create the Carnival and Steelband Museum in the Savannah. At the "Kings Go Forth" show after Carnival held there we hold coronations for each Monarch—Stickfighter, Extempo, Soca Monarch, Calypso King... all culminating with the coronation of the King and Queen costumes, where it's announced if this year's winners are worthy to be on permanent display in the museum—at which point the "anointed" ascend the platform where waiting to receive them are "Tan Tan", "Saga Boy", "Beauty in Perpetuity", "Splendoria", etc. Imagine that! Then we'd understand who we are...

• Rubadiri Victor is a cultural activist.

—rubadiri@yahoo.com

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