Are citizens aware of the possible implications of a steelband from Trinidad and Tobago visiting China? Has multiculturalism abandoned the “rainbow country” concept as espoused by Archbishop Desmond Tutu? Is our unique cultural status being dismantled and being allowed to form divisive cultural pockets in T&T?
If, as a result of this visit, a demand for pan is created, do we have the machinery to supply orders placed? With China’s economic resources and expansionist policies, will the visiting “Chinee” steelband be the purveyors of a new dawn for pan? If so, who will benefit?
China presents a potential market of close to one billion, and expanding. Will “multicultural” Trinidad and Tobago, have the collective will to create a pan industry worthy of ranking high in GDP and import earnings statistics? Or, will we allow this new and potential industry to be transported lock, stock and barrel to China and will the Chinese fraternity in T&T become the repository of economic and cultural power, dragons being the costumed highlights at Carnival time?
In its early gestation period certain lead pans were known as “ping-pongs”.
Will future generations of Trinis have to celebrate the memory of pan via a foreign-based ping-pong and pan industry? Already Trini mas makers are the recipients of beads a-plenty from China.
Let us hope that the T&T delegation to China will—via ping pong diplomacy as was practised between China and the US after the 1971 World Table Tennis Championship in China—ensure that the origin of our national instrument and its potential as an income earner will not be totally gifted to foreigners.