Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 11th 2018 Contents A16
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Attempting to terrorise Carnival
It may actually be the one time of year general crime
rates dip. Maybe the criminals reduce serious activity
simply to "tief a wine," or it could be that for a few
days, the full force of the country's security agencies
are on full display and unapologetically so.
At one time perhaps, it may have been intimidating
to see of icers with guns. These days, it instills a
feeling of protection for many.
But international news agencies, embassies and
high commissions, in carefully worded reports
over the last few days, are now telling us of plots of
terrorism targeting Carnival 2018. Over the last few
days, we've read reports that certain faiths, families
and places of worship have been searched, allegedly
with the help of US agencies.
Those who attempt to terrorise our country and
our Carnival through fear, intimidation or actual
plots would do well to remember we take our
celebrations seriously. We have help, we don't scare
easily, and we will not be paralysed by cowards on
When the police are present
In the middle of investigating terrorist plots,
monitoring drunk drivers, speeding and unwanted
"winers" during Carnival 2018, some of this
country's police of icers are still doing their ordinary
jobs with determination and pride.
In the early hours of Friday morning, while
thousands of fete goers were having a time,
robberies, home invasions and criminal acts
In the cases we've heard of in the Western Division,
police from at least the Four Roads station were on
the scene in minutes.
We may criticise their inability to solve much and
the high cold case ratio, but many of icers out there
are actually still trying.
When you are alone, surrounded by broken glass
and damaged doors, it means something to have
the police present. They may not be able to solve
many cases, but well done to the police of icers who
actually show up and try.
It's the great Carnival Sunday in T&T and there
is much anticipation for the Dimache Gras show
tonight. A show designed for the culture and
creativity of our people to enrapture imagination and
thrill the live audience and TV viewer alike with the
production of something potentially breathtaking.
It's easy to forget who we are sometimes and what
makes us different. We hope tonight's show reminds
us of this.
Pupils of the St Mary's Government school portray the 'Dame Lorraine' during the Traditional Carnival Characters
parade along Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Friday.
PICTURE ANISTO ALVES
Our eyes met. His mocking,
mine fearful, apologetic. I was
ashamed at the way my group
shrugged quickly past him as if he
was a leper, rushing towards the
safety of the waiting maxi-taxi.
Out of the safety of the pan yard
the dark street was as dangerous
as the Congo.
Yet that man, stripped down,
dehumanised, wild-eyed, raging,
is you and me, us all.
We scoff when people say the
system failed them. It did. Par-
ents failed him. They did. Schools
failed him. A country where drugs
and guns come in while law en-
forcement looks the other way,
failed him. He sleeps openly on
the street. Many more are being
prevented from being homeless
and in drugged despair by only
a thin barrier of minimum wage
set by the captains of industry.
They sleep under galvanize on
torn mattresses on streets where
This year, as we 'wine' inside
our expensive roped in barriers
with 'security', we may remember
that Carnival isn't about people
with money getting the best bands
and safest fetes. It's about free-
dom and art. Many of our people
are chained by poverty, illiteracy,
ill health and lack of opportunity.
society we create every day, one
where by barricading people out,
we have caged ourselves in.
to believe him. There were no so-
cial barriers on the street.
To see then, people dressed for
cocktails piling out of especially
hired maxi-taxis on a dimly lit
street into tightly controlled pan
yards, spend time there, and move
on to another one in the safety of
their maxi-taxis was surreal.
The pan yard maxi-taxi-hop-
ping people (of which I have been
one) had adapted. The lines were
drawn. The 'haves' were stepping
into the territory of the have-
nots. Oddly in their faces was a
self-congratulatory satisfaction or
perhaps relief (I don't think I was
imagining this) that they were on
the inside, enjoying what the out-
side world created, without being
exposed to the underbelly of the
outside--the criminal element.
We were taking their pickings
off the street. We were discon-
nected from the street.
Ioverheard a man from
the Congo complaining
bitterly about how much
safer he felt there. I could
not blame him. January
was the bloodiest month
in history known to T&T, record-
ing some 61 murders.
When I walked out of the pan
yard into the street I encountered
a near naked man, dark, mus-
cled, bearded, strong, picking up
a crack pipe from the street in a
slick movement that belonged in
It happened on a pre-Car-
nival night with the pans
being tuned in the balmy
dark in yards across the
city, on the cusp of hills,
deep into areas where few
dare to venture after nightfall.
It was on a night like this that I
arrived in a pan yard for the sec-
ond time for this season of wor-
ship to the Gods of Bacchus to
which the cream of our society
had been shuttled in maxi-taxis.
There is warmth in these eve-
nings that comes upon us after
a day of heat, sudden showers
and blossoms around the Savan-
nah shaking down on steaming
pavements, a rush of blood to the
The breeze carries the pan's
rising crescendo of excitement to-
wards the J'Ouvert, the madness
of spontaneous creation that hap-
pens when a palette of humans,
paint and music is flung together,
the excitement of the pretty mas,
the las lap, the parties after the
last party because no, no, we ain't
goin home and the party can't
The late great Trinidad journal-
ist Raoul Pantin showed me years
ago when I was depressed about
crime that almost everything
about this country is art.
There was the arc of the hills,
the flight of egrets into the chang-
It was in the features of our peo-
ple, many continents in one face,
It was there in the attitudes
people struck in a pan yard: some
leaning on posts, others with a
smooth gliding rhythm as if every
beat of the pan resonated with
their heartbeats. I saw it.
I didn't need to borrow his copy
of Walcott's Omeros (the Caribbe-
an's answer to Homer's Odyssey)
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