Saturday, December 16, 2017

Our sad new portrait of Carnival


Some of us may be surprised to know that what we debate today has been done time after time, generation after generation; our issues and concerns are not new.

Some may not be surprised at all.

Some may try and try to flip the script, change the system, make a difference — some may burn out, some may die trying, some may stay ever content, ever hopeful, ever believing.

Some may sit back and switch off, maintain sanity and say: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Some may listen and hear those voices of reason, sanity, solution; some may hear but not listen, some may switch the channel.

Until there is one route, one root, there will always be several somes that never make up the sum of Trinidad and Tobago.

More than anything else, Carnival has come to mean for me, the stamp and approval of division.

It used to be creativity, freedom, expression, harmony, voice, possibility for me, but now, I see it as celebration of a sectionised people.

Because...

When I see how our people do not understand the purpose and power of a People's Band, I recognise this is because our people do not understand the meaning and power and possibility of masquerade and the relationship between masquerade and individuality and creativity and inclusivity.

When I see how our people do not understand how Panorama has killed pan, I recognise this is because our people do not understand the organic evolvement of pan and the need to marry natural evolution with development rather than substitute competition for development.

When I see how our people cheer on racist calypsoes, I recognise this is because our people do not know and appreciate the multicultural dynamics that built this country, but would rather promote and applaud victimhood instead of accomplishment.

When I see how our people pick up bottles and cups to fling on the stage as instructed, I recognise this is because our people are celebrating alcohol, division and competition rather than music and talent and how these star puppets become the puppet masters, pulling the strings of the masses they claim to uplift with their music.

When I see how our people pay big money to be included in an exclusive all-inclusive, I recognise this is because our people choose to re-enact the debauchery of a fallen Roman Empire rather than configure a Trinbagonain society.

When I see how our people have taken this unifying, dynamic, self-proclaiming, creative, conscious thing called Carnival, and use it to exclude, divide and hate, I recognise this is because our people do not know that there was a time when all could not celebrate Carnival, but now, in this time when all can celebrate Carnival, we celebrate in the white people band, the Indian band, the African band; I recognise this is because our people do not know that there was a time when calypsonians were scorned as scum, but now, in this time when calypsonians are celebrated, some sing and behave like scum; I recognise this is because our people do not know that steelpan kept young, idle boys occupied and off the streets, but now, in this time when pan is on top the Hill, the young idle boys threaten it.

Carnival may have been our root, our route... before the religious bodies jumped up and said it is vulgarity, before the economic hitmen jumped up and said it is money, before the racists jumped up and said it belonged to we not them, before the young hotshots jumped up and said let's reinvent it, before, before, before...

Joanne Haynes

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