Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 2nd 2015 Contents A38
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, February 2, 2015
It's been the tradition for young members of the Alfred family to play in the Couva Jab Jab band, thus
ensuring that the tradition is passed on. The NCBA ruling could hamper this transmission of Carnival
traditions. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
PETER RAY BLOOD
The National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA)
is adamant about enforcing Rules 2.1 and 2.4 for
Carnival competition which clearly state that all
masqueraders must be 18 years old and over. The
first 2015 competition where this rule will be tested
is the traditional mas parade takes place annually
every Carnival Sunday from Picadilly Greens to
Adam Smith Square.
Ronald Alfred, leader of Original Whipmaster Jab
Jab band, confirmed that his band was penalised
last Carnival Tuesday. He said: "I pulled my seven
children out the band before we got on the road last
year and had no children in the band in the com-
petition. I was told that children could parade on
the road but not on the performance stage.
"I started playing this mas with my grandfather
and father as a child. My younger son who is ten
has been parading with me. This is traditional mas
and traditional mas is something that is passed down
through the generations. If I didn t learn from my
father, when he got sick I would not have been able
to continue traditional mas. It would have died."
The veteran traditional masquerader added: "The
introduction of this rule is a real blow to traditional
mas which is very much family oriented and is inter-
generational by nature. Indeed traditional mas survives
because it is handed from one generation to the next.
This rule therefore threatens the participation of
most of the bands who take part every year."
June Sankar, who has been producing a Dame
Lorraines this past decade and has represented the
country abroad as this character, said: "Understand
that this is not a NCC (National Carnival Committee)
rule, it is a NCBA rule. It is a rule and we masquer-
aders wishing to participate have to follow it.
"At the nostalgia parade on Carnival Sunday morn-
ing I have usually taken my junior masqueraders on
the road with us for the past five years.
"I find the rule is a bit harsh but we have to follow
it as the NCBA is the organisation which runs the
parade and sets the rules of participation. If we want
the children to continue in traditional mas after
we re dead and gone they are now being prevented
from participating and learning about the traditional
In the face of protestations from traditional mas
stalwarts, NCBA chairman David Lopez remained
unphased and fixed on the rule. On Friday he said:
"The NCBA runs mas competitions, I am the chair-
man of the NCBA and rules must be implemented
to govern all parades and competitions. The rule is
clear and explicit. We have competitions for junior
masqueraders that are separate and apart from events
involving adult masqueraders.
"On one hand there are people wanting masquer-
aders under the age of 18 to participate in parades
and competitions, on Carnival days as well, with all
the revelry and alcohol---and at the same time, also
want bans and prohibition for masqueraders under
the age of 18 to be implemented."
Another masqueraders speaking anonymously
said: "This is the only part of Carnival that is truly
performance art any more. Those who play traditional
mas should be valued as performance artistes, with
each portrayal having its own dance, some also have
their own songs. I think this is a critical point that
is completely lost today. This parade should be a
showcase of traditional performance art. It should
be developed, promoted and valued as such.
"Those charged with the responsibility for running
Carnival are oppressing the oldest traditions in Car-
nival through these rules and regulations, very low
prize money, and the difficulty of accessing judging
points on Carnival Tuesday due to the domination
on the road by the mega bands.
"In short, traditional Carnival masqueraders are
in a battle against the superstructure of Carnival for
the survival of this most valuable aspect of our cul-
'No children in mas'
"Those who play
should be valued as
artistes, with each
portrayal having its
own dance, some
also have their own
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