The band and band leader largely responsible for the evolution of Mass Playing and party events in Trinidad was banned from crossing the Big Stage this year for not adhering to the agreed parade route. There are two key elements of this scenario that cause for question. Firstly, based on the customer-centric history of the band leader and team, why did they not adhere to the parade route, risking the stage experience of their band members? Secondly, regardless of the mistake or disregard for the rule by the band leader, is it fair that paying masqueraders inclusive of tourists, be penalized for the decision over which they had no control?
There is no question as to the impact Tribe has had on the Carnival Experience. Persons went from begging to find out when their costumes are going to be ready on the weekend of Carnival and being asked to return the day before the parade, to having an orderly wait on cushioned chairs in air-conditioned comfort while being served light refreshments on a day stipulated long before the parade. The security, amenities, service, food and drink offerings and a long list of other elements of the Carnival Experience have all been extensively improved by this band. Though their price exceeds most if not all other bands, their offerings far exceed other bands and they take pride in listening to their customers and improving each year. Hence, the demand to revel with them is higher than any other. To be admired is the fact that they always give first preference to masqueraders who have regularly played with them. This is called loyalty to customers for those who have raised issues with this practice.
To say that all they are concerned about is money is a statement made in ignorance and envy. In a country where mediocrity is readily accepted and customer service is a very new idea struggling to gain footing, Tribe has gone to lengths to offer the best possible and ever improving experience in Trinidad and Tobago beyond the bounds of Carnival. This was not necessary to make money, but rather to develop a brand of quality and inspire others to follow. The persons benefiting from this are not only their customers but the customers of those choosing to compete with Tribe. Additionally, the international audience we have desired for so long has increased steadily since the introduction of Tribe and its several events throughout the year locally and internationally. Though they do not deserve of all credit they most certainly deserve a substantial portion of it.
With a history of putting the customer first, it is only reasonable to ask, what would cause them to make a decision that would go against all that they have built? It would also be interesting to find out how many other bands deviated from the parade route, if any others were penalized and if in fact the authorities that be, played any role in the deviation. Even if there is no plausible reason, one must consider that any rule in Carnival which serves to impose punishment on innocent masqueraders, inclusive of foreign masqueraders, upon whom our tourism economy is almost totally dependent, is a self defeating rule. We invite foreigners to our shores to revel and provide revenue, but cut short what they have paid for because of the acts of someone else. To bring it home, where charity is supposed to begin, our local people who have worked hard to be able to have a once a year experience of proper service and the freedom of revelry have been cheated.
The Truth, based on the historical facts of Carnival, would lead any level minded person to believe that the organization of Carnival would be much better handled by the very persons accused of breaking one of its rules. Can any national organizing committee claim to have organized any event as smoothly as Tribe or claim to hold a similar customer centric position? Some may attempt to counter this question by making reference to a wings giving event in Chaguaramas. However, it should be kept in mind and objectively thought through, that there were several public authorities responsible for many aspects of this free event (most difficult to predict turnout), unlike the countless other private events put on by Tribe organizers, that are generally far above par.
In conclusion, consider the following: penalties should and must be paid for breaking rules written for the general and organized good. However, rules and penalties that serve to undermine key objectives of the very persons writing and enforcing the rules, amount to bacchanal (Encarta Dictionary- 5. Out-of-control-event). To achieve the key objectives of Carnival, they must first be clearly defined and all rules and activities derived from those objectives. When a professional approach is needed, in logistics management for instance, the professionals with a proven track record of success should be consulted.
The fruits of The Tribe have been sweet for most and for long, prune as needed but do not cut down that which serves good fruit and strives to serve it well.