Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2014 Contents It is because the Carnival, the
arts which give life and meaning
to the festival, and its economic,
political and cultural connections
reach so deeply into people s lives
that they are so capable of sparking
controversy and conflict.
In his time, Albert Gomes, sup-
porter and patron of Carnival arts,
said the calypso tells us how we have
"lived, loved and sinned."
No surprise, therefore, that calyp-
sonian Bodyguard's interpretation
of the phenomenon of False Papers
has stirred an early and unnerving
(for many) convulsion. False Papers
refers to the fact that the likes of
Reshmi Ramnarine and Omar Khan
are said to have claimed academic
qualifications which were not sup-
ported by substantiating certificates.
The lyrics of the kaiso touch on
what composer Gregory Ballantyne
(GB) sees as the ethnic tendencies
of groups of Indo-Trinis and contrast
them with what happens in the Afro
In a calypso twist, GB and Body-
guard denounce the claim made a
few years ago by General Secretary
of the Maha Sabha Satnarayan
Maharaj to the effect that the reason
for the success of Indo-Trini students
at school is because they are studying
while their counterparts in the Afro-
Trini population are occupying their
time "beating pan."
"When yuh feel dey was beating
more book than the African, dey
was fabricating degrees, defrauding
the land...I am yet to see one single
African in the lot," goes a line in the
chorus of False Papers.
The contention surrounds the fact
that tent organiser Sugar Aloes and
his committee have refused to put
Bodyguard in their show.
"I find the song has some racial
undertones which I find are uncalled
for. As a businessman I cannot pay
somebody to insult my audience,"
says the calypsonian in his role as
This position contrasts with that
of his halcyon days, when he was
only "Aloes," without a taste of sugar:
his provocative calypsoes and those
of his brethren Watchman and Cro
Cro were perceived to be the reason
that large numbers of Indo-Trinis
stopped attending the calypso tent.
Faced with the reality of success-
fully managing a financial enterprise,
Aloes has taken the position of busi-
nessman over the right that bards
like himself have upheld for a long
time, that they must be free to inter-
pret the society as they perceive it
to be, whatever the consequences.
The fact is that over the last per-
haps two decades, calypsonians have
been on the stages of political parties
and governments, singing rousing
endorsements of their paymasters.
Former PNM minister Joan Yuille-
Williams acknowledged giving gov-
ernment subsidies to calypso tents.
The larger question is whither
calypso? Already it has been replaced
in the fetes by the driving pulse of
soca, whose lyrics are rarely profound
or political. Does calypso have to
morph and change to suit the envi-
ronment, with no care for the tra-
ditions of the art form?
On the other side of the coin,
calypsonians have to determine
whether they have to uphold moral
and ethical standards and whether
they have to compose and sing in
such as way as to avoid further frag-
mentation and conflict in the society.
What is certain is that once again
one of the art forms of Carnival is
challenging societal traditions and
raising questions about how far they
should take cultural licence.
The fact is that over the last perhaps two decades, calypsonians have been on the stages of political parties
and governments, singing rousing endorsements of their paymasters. Former PNM minister Joan Yuille-Williams
acknowledged giving government subsidies to calypso tents.
A product of Guardian Media Ltd
Editor-in-Chief, Judy Raymond
Editor, Irving Ward
Chief Editor---Business, Anthony Wilson
News Editor, Robert Alonzo
Sports Editor, Valentino Singh
E-mail the Editor: email@example.com
Newsroom (daily) Telephone: 623-8870/9,
ext. 2251, 2252, 2222, 2242; 623-News
Newsroom e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsroom (Sunday) Telephone: 623-8870/9,
ext. 2362, 2552, 2722, 2724
SG e-mail: email@example.com
Fax: (News) 625-7211; (Advertising) 623-2050
Managing Director, Gabriel Faria
Circulation Manager, Cashyap Sharma
Sales Manager, Sonja Romany
22-24 St Vincent Street, (PO Box 122)
Telephone: 623-8870/9; 623-7543;
San Fernando office: 652-3700
Chaguanas Bureau: 665-1977
Internet address: www.guardian.co.tt
The horrors of Syria are literally unthinkable.
The same is true of the numbers involved.
Two point three million people have fled the
country, and a further 9.3 million have been in-
A year ago, most commentators were pre-
dicting the imminent fall of Assad and an end
to the fighting. Almost no one thinks that way
now. An entire generation of Syrian children is
growing up in surrounding countries. It is no
longer a question of providing them with food
and blankets; they need schools, playgrounds,
Naturally enough, reaction was that some-
thing must be done: something big enough
and decisive enough to be adequate for the
tragedy. That feeling is understandable, but
misplaced. There are things beyond our con-
trol, problems without solutions.
While we were in the camp, we met political
and military leaders from the Syrian opposi-
tion. They were immovable on one point:
there could be no prospect of a settlement
without the removal of Assad and his hench-
men. They didn't demand the dismantling of
the entire state apparatus, they said:
Ba'athists would have a place in the new dis-
pensation. But those around the president
would have to go.
From Assad's perspective, though, their atti-
tude removes any incentive to talk.
Whatever promises are made now, exile
would mean a lifetime of fighting attempts to
try him at The Hague.
So the slaughter will carry on until one side or
the other is militarily exhausted.
We can succour the traumatised, the maimed
and the exiled. We can fund the front-line
states. We can nudge the factions closer.
We---the UK and the West in general---are
doing all these things. But it is not in our
power to halt the abominations. Accepting
that is perhaps the hardest thing of all.
---Daniel Hannan, The Telegraph
Sound Off: Syria's horrors beyond our control
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Links Archive January 15th 2014 January 17th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page