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Carnival Over

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garbage along the side walks cleared, de Pans heng up, Mas and Kaiso tents tek down, young people done ley go all dey steam and cool down, dey waiting foh de next Fete!{{more}} Interestingly, all de beating and bad mouthing de festival got was like water pon duck back; no effect whatsoever. Yuh call dat de “Fill-us-ah-fee ah de Masses”. However successful de Festival appears to have been, dey’s still good reason to wuk pon de unwanted agents, de vulgarity, littering and consumption ah alcohol by our youths. Now it’s all up to us to meet: parents, church, pastors, song writers and musicians, mas designers et al. No more finger pointing and condemnation, just positive suggestions.

Congrats to Joy-see who out-performed her competitors and ‘rains’ as Kaiso Monarch foh another year. Patches at No. 2 is getting thru wid de messages pouring from his soul; keep trying Patches. Dem Kaisonians passed nuff lix at de Kaiso finals, dey didn’t spare to use de proverbial “rod ah correction” pon de regime, in particular de Big Man. Believe it or not, snippets or clippings shown on TV of some of the leading presentations at de Soca Monarch is unbelievable, dey like action thrillers, colourful, dramatic, spectacular, like excerpts from de movies, great stuff. No wonder de young people don’t bother to watch de Mas Bands cross de stage on Mardi Gras.

Congrats to Sion Hill seniors, dey lifted de standard ah Pan at dis year’s Panorama, and more is expected from dem as dey Arranger, Rodney Small, now studying in Jamaica, works towards his musical degree. And nuff respect to de Police, security was good. But is de Police Band dah continues to be de pride ah dat Institution and by extension, de country. Wid about twelve pieces ah brass, dey sounded like ah full size orchestra as dey did justice to de Kaosonians. There’s always room foh improvement in de tonal quality, but de band is ready to handle music scores arranged foh big orchestras. Commissioner Miller must promote more Bandsmen to higher ranks. Is time foh faithful souls like Hall and Jamback wear Khaki! “Throw Bad Mind out de Window” by Loot-her should get an Awe-ward foh de “Most Positive Song on de Road”.

De inevitable finally happened as Blondie Bird gets his first Band of de Year title. Hey’s proof dat persistent hard work does pay dividends; well done Blondie. My pick foh Band ah de Year is de “Sanitation Gang”. Dey should be paid triple time foh restoring de town on de mornings after de “Street Litter Fetes”, dat’s from Fry-dey to Choose-dey.

Ah post mortem is in order and dey comes ah time when ole faces must give way gracefully, to new ones wid fresh I-dares. Nuff said about dat!

FORTY YEARS AND NOTHING TO SHOW

It was very thoughtful of de CDC to recognize Masman, Junior “Melbourne” Constance dis year, for his forty years service, not to mention de thousands ah dollars of his personal cash he puts into Vincy Mas annually. Ah have been privy since 1977, to de woes and pains of dis “lickle black boy” from de Slum; dah’s when he brought de band Colloquial Expressions wid Elseworth “T-bird” John playing King ah de bands. Melly, apart from being Band Leader is ah jack-ah-all-trade in de Mas Camp: he’s ah welder, wire-bender, moulding head pieces, improviser, mister all-rounder.

Dis humble Carnival Ambassador, armed wid his multi Mas making skills, travels de world over, way ever dey’s Carnival, to wuk wid leading Mas Bands: St Lucia, Antigua, T’n’T, St. Kitts, New York foh Labour Day.

“De conditions away from home is great” he says, “Overseas, dey refer to me as Vincy and dey treat me wid respect and appreciate me foh my skills wuking foh dem in de Mas Tents”. Seems like he meks good money too.

Unlike de big bands, Melbourne was never dat lucky to get sponsorship foh his band; he gets only start up money from CDC. Wid his earnings from Carnival abroad, he builds his costumes in anticipation of getting dem sold and making ah profit, but every year de cash and de numbers seem to be getting smaller and smaller, he ends up looking foh people to jump these costumes, some at half price, ah lot foh free. Dey have been times when Melbourne’s band has had to piggy-back on another band foh music on de road, couldn’t afford ah DJ. His love foh Vincy Mas is unmatchable, yet year after year he ends up wid de worst possible site foh ah Mas Tent, most times he winds up in ah derelict, no water or toilet facilities; dat is another topic foh discussion, at another time and another place, except to say, dat when one looks at de poor physical conditions under which some Mas-men in dis country got to wuk, de authority and organisors ah Mas in SVG should heng dey head in shame. Notwithstanding all ah dat, our Mas-men are still able to produce some ah de best costumes built in de Caribbean. Melbourne has never won ah Band of de Year title, but has excelled in de Individuals Category, He actually won King ah de Bands dis year.

Melbourne’s honouring was ah let down. Showering words of praise and presenting ah Plaque is how we do it, cannot stop ah hole, mere comfort foh ah fool. In another place and another time, Melbourne would ah been more appropriately recognized and adequately compensated foh his talent. When Roy Ralph was honoured under de last regime, he was given ah piece ah land; ah don’t know foh certain if he ever got it. Is ah low income house too much foh Melly? I think not! Congrats Melly! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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