THE Tassa Association of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) is calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her Government to declare the tassa drum the second national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.
Members of the association said yesterday this would be a fitting gift to Trinidad and Tobago on the 50th anniversary of independence.
The call was made during yesterday's draw for positions for the finals of the 12th edition of the National Tassarama Competition of Trinidad and Tobago to be held today at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The event kicks off at 4 p.m. and will feature 20 senior bands and four junior bands.
Following the draw for positions yesterday on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, representatives of the various tassa groups, along with members of the TATT executive, held a meeting with Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas at his office in Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain.
Vice-president of the Association, Wendell Eversley, told the Express that the call for tassa to be made the second national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago came from a historical perspective.
"If you look at slavery days, the drum was there from the beginning," Eversley said.
"The drum did not come here as the pan came. (The material used to make the pan) was not made in Trinidad. But when you look at the tassa, it is something that is a product of Trinidad. The goat (skins) from here, the stick, which is made from cane, is from Trinidad. That is why we are calling on the authorities of the day to make this instrument the second national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.
"Every function you attend there is a tassa band. All Prime Ministers used the tassa, from Eric Williams to present, at their functions.
"The pan was imported. Although the pan music was created here, the actual pan was imported. We don't make the steelpan here. We created the steelpan music. But the drum was here from the beginning.
"The first steelpan came here with oil or gas and we take that and make the pan out of it. Long time we have been calling for a pan factory. If you go and check with Pan Trinbago, they have been calling for a pan industry."
Eversley said the Association intended to conduct a feasibility study on implementing the teaching of tassa in schools.
He said there were over 300 tassa bands in Trinidad and Tobago and interest was growing.
The call was echoed by Deochan Gopee, leader of defending champions Central Rhythm Tassa Band, who said tassa can be heard all year round.
"When there is a birth, there is tassa, when people die there is tassa, when people get married there is tassa," Gopee said.
The four-member band from Freeport, Central Trinidad, has been in existence for three years and has done progressively well in the competition, having placed third in 2009, second in 2010 and first in 2012.
Their strategy to cop this year's first prize of $50,000 is to come out with a strong, clean, rhythmic performance this afternoon.
"We are coming to show people what tassa is about," Gopee said.
How they play today
The bands in order
1. Stinger Boys Tassa
2. San Juan Young Stars
3. Tropical Power Country Boys Tassa Band
4. Pasea Young Stars Tassa Drummers
5. The Back Benchers Crew
6. Paradise Tassa Group
7. Central Stars Tassa Band
8. Ragoonanan Road Tassa Band
9. Tri-Star Tassa Band
10. Cross Fire Tassa Band
11. Latchman Boys Young Stars Tassa Band
12. Dragon Boys Tassa Band
13. Central Boys Tassa Band
14. Sanjay Boys Tassa
15. Harlem Warriors Tassa Drummers
16. Living Legions Tassa
17. Rising Tide Tassa Band
18. Malick Rhythm Boyz Tassa Band
19. Surya Starz Tassa Drummers
20. Central Rhythm Tassa Band (defending champion)
1. South Young Stars Tassa Band
2. Gandhi Junior Tassa Band
3. Moving Stars Tassa Band
4. Sanjay Boys Junior Tassa Band