Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 28th 2018 Contents A18
Sunday, January 28, 2018
A place of chaos
With less than two weeks to go, it is our hope that
centuries of Carnival celebrations in this country will
mean a touch more order in 2018. Because every
year, as masqueraders don body paint, mud, glitter
and beads, the chaos and disorder remain the same.
Carnival simply has not evolved. Putting aside
the economics of the event, the management of the
festival has been poor by world standards.
We are a proud people who love to boast about
hosting the "greatest show on earth" every year,
but if you look closely at how we actually manage
everything from copyright to traf ic, parking,
vending and even basic communication, it's a
miracle some of the major events are even pulled off.
The last-minute nature of the thing is excitement
itself for many stakeholders, but surely we could be
doing better by now.
A classic example of our collective failure to deliver
on something basic? The exhibition of winning
Dimanche Gras costumes at the place we the
taxpayers actually spent money on to build. Part of
the design of Nalis was speci ically to facilitate the
suspension of costumes.
Nalis has been around for quite a while but not
a costume in sight. It's an almost sure guess that
this year it will be no different. As they say, maybe
it's a case of "we like it so"...because surely, after
centuries, we can do a lot better.
'We want more money'
Keeping with Carnival, Carnival committees and
stakeholders around the country are crying for more
money to pull off the 2018 celebrations. But their
tears are wasted because frankly, with cutbacks
across the board and across the country, the
Government simply does not have the cash to serve
up.It's the perfect time though, to remember the
spirit of the event---borne out of desire, passion,
creativity and yes, limited funds, bartering and skill.
The chairman of a major Caribbean conglomerate
is famous for saying: "If there is a recession, we will
not participate." Widen that context and it speaks
to something bigger, to determination to make
something out of what looks like nothing.
Our sweet sweet pan
Queen's Park Savannah is the place to be today, as
the 2018 National Panorama semi inals for medium
and large bands starts its beat. This is one of the
events that makes this country great. Chaos or not,
we hope you get a chance to take a deep breath at
some point today...and remember where we have
come from and who we are.
good parenting and civic citizens?
Isn't this the stuff of culture? We
have had great minds amongst
us---from Williams to Capildeo,
Naipaul to Walcott. All disappear-
Or is culture the dumbing down
of T&T? What if the lack of civil-
ity, and lethar y comes from the
top? Oil has enabled our State to
be both the largest employer and
Sadly when oil prices drop,
there is an immediate recession.
Thousands in the private and
public sector lose their jobs since
there is no oil money to support
With our oil crutch there is no
need to ix broken communities,
grapple with drugs or guns or chil-
dren going home to empty homes
after school, an education that left
most functionally illiterate and
being parented by gangs.
Later while driving I glimpsed
dug up parks (for the fete which
sported gorgeous white tents) and
by way of contrast the pathetic
sight of the interim green cam-
ouflage roof at the once splen-
did, now condemned President's
House which I was lucky enough
to visit many times.
Everywhere, a no-show. We
value tents over historical build-
ings. The small courtesies are
disappearing, and with it, the big
jump, grind etc.
The EMA is such a toothless
bulldog that it isn't an option. No
one answers the phone there ei-
ther when fetes are on.
In the papers there was a large
photo of an 'artiste' shoving his
groin into the behind of a barely
clothed woman. I'm no prude.
I've 'played' mas. It's fun for an
afternoon, but someone has to
explain the excellence in mono-
syllabic shouts and groin thrusts
to me, explain why semi porn has
to be funded by the State. That, I
was supposed to understand after
years of living here, is our 'cul-
I recently saw a woman teach-
ing her child, no more than three,
to 'wine' around Nelson Mandela
park. It's not culture, it's an early
indoctrination to sex, with a di-
rect correlation to the thousands
of cases of child sex abuse being
reported to the Children's Author-
it y.There was a story of Govern-
ment giving a chutney singer a
prize for a million dollars. In a
recession? That's our priority?
Isn't culture the creative and in-
tellectual expression of a peoples
world view? Shouldn't we glorify
excellence, composition and lyr-
ics instead of yration in soca?
Shouldn't we honour the
sciences and arts, academia, pro-
fessions and a trade; celebrate
That rainy day when
puddles settled in
crevices of enclosed
car park I stood by
the entrance to a
building holding the
door open to man after man who
walked in and out, none seeing
the irony of it, none allowing me
to pass, I remembered my father's
oft-repeated words "When small
courtesies go, the big ones go."
So there are men who don't
hold a door open for women or
anyone anymore, perhaps never
have or never will. Small thing,
except it's not. Because courtesy
is about the value we place on life
and people around us. Everyone,
even strangers matter. The life
around us matters.
When I inally got through the
door I spent a broody morning in
a coffee shop waiting for someone
with whom I had a work related
appointment. She didn't show up.
I made the usual excuses. This
is Trinidad after all. People don't
show up when they say they will.
People don't return calls. Small
thing, except it's not. It's saying
to people 'you don't count. Your
time doesn't count.'
This failure to return calls has
led to our ruinous work ethic,
drives investors away. I'm think-
ing of the diplomat who said he
couldn't get through to a govern-
ment agency to meet the condi-
tions to donate millions of dollars
of aid to us. Time is money, but
in Trinidad there is more than
enough to waste, or was. Still, we
I was tired that morning so I sat
in the café thinking, reading the
My nerves were frazzled be-
cause I hadn't been able to sleep.
I, like thousands of others had
been subject to hours and hours
of noise pollution consisting of
soca and chutney 'artistes' (what-
ever that is) shouting obscenities
and infantilised orders to drink,
A bass player from Arima Golden Symphony Steel Orchestra lays on his pans to reach his notes while performing in
the National Panorama Small band semi-finals at Victoria Square, Port-of-Spain yesterday. PICTURE KERWIN PIERRE
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