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Carnival 2012

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Carnival 2012 has turned out to be a celebration of the artistry of Blondie Bird and Fya Empress. Blondie Bird and Friends, with their portrayal of “A glimpse of Kingstown”, won all the major titles (except individual in the junior 5-9 category) in both Junior and Senior Mas, crowning it off with the Band of the Year title. Fya Empress secured the Ragga Soca and Calypso Monarch titles, came second in the Soca Monarch competition and won the Road March. Even the Soca Monarch title, some persons believed, should have gone to her.{{more}}

It is necessary for me upfront to mention that, at least for the major part of Carnival, there had been no reports of violence, removing the fears of many persons that Carnival 2012 might have been subjected to a great degree of violence. For this we have to compliment the Police for the measures they had put in place and for their pledge to shut down Carnival celebrations wherever there was violence. The Prime Minister took a different position, one with which I disagreed. He felt that the police should have concentrated on the unruly people, rather than have to shut down entire events, largely because, he felt, he understood the social value of carnival. With their declaration of the willingness to shut down entire carnival-related events, the Police put the onus on the people to assume the responsibility of preventing violence, rather than have to leave it entirely up to them.

Congrats for this.

There was one little incident of a different nature that happened on Carnival Tuesday that really pleased me that I want to share with others. While the National Anthem was being played a woman was walking around and went to a vendor who was selling either snow cone or pop corn. The gentleman indicated to her that the Anthem was being played and she would have to wait. Shortly after, a gentleman, an ordinary member of our society went up to her and really put some cussing on her for disrespecting our National Anthem. I felt good about this. On Tuesday morning at about 9’o’clock, Kingstown was like a war zone, with litter spread just about everywhere. Within another hour or two, the Sanitation workers appeared to have taken full control of the situation. This is nothing new, but we have to keep giving praise to them for the job they are doing.

Now about some issues. Something happened in the Calypso finals that I am at a loss to explain. Why was Poorsah not placed? Where did he go wrong? I had him placed as the winner. Granted, the finals were very competitive, but the fact that he was not placed was the biggest shock I had for the Carnival season. The Calypso Competition this year was the best for a long time. The ‘Semis’ was excellent and this was carried over into the finals, with very little separating the competitors. I must in this regard, compliment Fya Empress. Her elocution was excellent, so was her use of the stage and overall presentation. I must, however, raise an issue which had bothered me before. Should we allow a calypso sung in another competition in another island to be sung at our national competition? I believe (and I stand subject to correction) that Fya Empress’ “I am a Woman” was the same song that gave her the Carnival Queen Crown in Trinidad and Tobago. It is not the first time this has happened. I feel that this should not be allowed. While speaking about calypsoes, I have to pay tribute to Brother Ebony with his creation of “Ebony Have Nothing At All”, very original and very creative. When I saw the Chinese Mr Long moving the long wall on Sunday night, that really crowned it all for me. The other thing that stood out was the role of women. Two women placed in the first three in the Calypso, Soca and Road March competitions. The women also dominated the junior competition. Look also at the number of songs about women, including, of course, Sunny Bank’s “Violence Against Men”. This brought home what ‘Bump I’ sang about “Women Taking Over.”

There is so much more that I really want to talk about, but I would end with some comments on the Soca Monarch competition. If things continue this way, the competition will fail to attract the kinds of crowds that we have grown accustomed to see at that show. Despite the judging criteria, which I believe gives lyrics about 20 or 25 points, it is obvious that this competition is about the spectacle seen in the kinds of presentations by the leading artistes. It means that to have any chance at all, one has to secure good sponsors. Failure to do this would ensure that the competition will always be among two or three artistes. The CDC needs to review the judging criteria. Where are the lyrics in the soca tunes played? Quite often they are merely repeats of one or two lines. I am of the view that the CDC, the nation, need to have a serious review of carnival and to look at it in totality, including of course the vulgarity that is displayed on stage and on the streets. Someone has to take a stand somewhere. As Reality would say, this is not the St Vincent we knew.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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