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Well-deserved Carnival honours

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Tue, Jul 13, 2010

SEARCHLIGHT wishes to add our commendations to all those who were the recipients of honours and awards over the Carnival season. Without prejudice to all the various winners and awardees, we would like to single out two women in particular for quite distinctive reasons. We refer here to three-time National Calypso Monarch Joy-C and Culture Minister, Hon. René Baptiste.{{more}} This is not in any way to belittle the awards given by the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) to veteran mas man Junior “Melbourne” Constance or to Chairperson of the Beauty Shows Committee, the long-serving Mrs. Cheryl Rodriguez. Each in his or her own way thoroughly deserves such honours.

Virtues of perseverance

“Melbourne” is a fine example of the virtues of perseverance. Scepticism about his presentations has gradually turned to grudging recognition of the solid contribution he has made to mas, not only here in St.Vincent and the Grenadines but in several other Caribbean countries. Mrs Rodriguez has had to endure criticism and been embroiled in controversy as well, but to her credit, has never allowed these to dim her enthusiasm for the tasks before her or to undermine her commitment.

Such controversy and criticism are certainly no strangers to Culture Minister Baptiste. Much maligned by her detractors, on both political and personal grounds, she has weathered each storm and soldiered on, spearheading the drive not just to improve Carnival, but to put a new life, new meaning and purpose to the role and place of culture in our national development thrust. She has her own way of doing things which sometimes brings her into strong disagreement with persons around her, but she always gives as good as she receives and holds her own in these skirmishes. As Culture Minister, she not only assumes a hands-on role, but also tries to provide a vision as well. Her accolade is well deserved.

In the case of the 2010 National Calypso Monarch, no praise can be too high for her achievements. Last year, she displayed a remarkable triumph over adversity when she fought her way back from serious illness to cop the monarchy with her unforgettable rendition of “Bounce Back”. If ever those suffering, those disadvantaged, those in despair, wanted inspiration, Joy-C on Dimanche Gras night 2009 could not be faulted. A more stirring presentation would be hard to imagine, or so we thought one year ago.

Tackled societal problems

But come Finals night one year later, and even that zenith of 2009 was surpassed. This time, the message was equally poignant and penetrative. Whereas last year she used her own victorious battle over personal adversity to send a powerful message of inspiration, this time she went straight to the heart of major societal problems: parental neglect and the scourge of HIV/AIDS, to light up Victoria Park and touch the lives of tens of thousands who listened by radio and television. One can only urge those involved in the work of social welfare to make maximum use of these classics to further the national educational campaigns.

Rescued Dimanche Gras

In addition to the strength and depth of the messages, Joy-C rescued the Dimanche Gras from the drudgery now associated with Finals night presentations in recent years. Social commentary is now limited political commentary of a very narrow type, echoing in song many of the political expressions in the media on a day-to-day basis. Much of it was a rehash of issues of the past few years. The offerings of the 2010 Monarch were therefore more than a breath of fresh air from the staleness into which many, not all, of the calypsos, seem to sink. All the more credit to her for a victory richly earned.

In a society where more emphasis seems to be placed on negatives, on criticisms and on exposing shortcomings, may we seek to learn and gain inspiration from such contributions as we have highlighted and use them for the national good.

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