Friday, December 15, 2017

Crass vulgarity never part of early Carnival

 If further tangible evidence of the morally corrosive, enduring and maligning influence of a long-dead Eric Williams upon every social strata and race in T&T is sought, then look no further than Winford James’s column in yesterday’s Express. Mr James glibly describes recent Carnival vulgarity in both costume and conduct as “catharsis”.

From my personal experience as a steelband and mas aficionado and participant from my early teens during the steelband wars and up to 1988, while Carnival has always been a catharsis for both masque­rader and spectator, up to my departing the homeland in ’88, that catharsis never degenerated into the absence of self-respect and the immorality now so obvious and widespread over the two Carnival days.

Immediately prior to my departure, that level of public (mis)conduct would not have been acceptable in any self-respecting steelband at any time of day or night—though signs of deterioration were already creeping in. It was manifested only by Carnival “newbies” who knew no better and were soon corrected.

I beg to differ with Winford James. Crass vulgarity prior to ’56 was never a part of “we culture” and was treated with the reprimand and revulsion which, up to then, it still merited. This lamentable degeneration in both social and moral standards across the entire societal spectrum may, I respectfully posit, be traced directly back to Williams’s fateful bombast: “Massa Day done.”

That was a death blow not merely to the work ethic but it has, over time, corroded both individual self-respect and moral probity in every aspect of national life.

TG Mendes

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