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Hi, Neighbour

By KEITH SMITH

Thursday, August 5th 2004

Back from Barbados where not a single finalist in the "Pic O de Crop" competition even mentioned the "fishing dispute" between them and us, and where more than one held out the hope for greater regional unity and interaction. Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where at the National Cultural Foundation's media conference the third-placed "Pic O de Crop" calypsonian chided colleague Terry Joseph for insisting on Carnival's T&T origins, "Informer", for his part, insisting that, kill him dead, he was not going to record anywhere but in the Trinidad that he loved, but Trinidadians had to get used to the idea that they no longer had sole ownership of the Carnival, the festival having been adopted "by the whole world". Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where the biggest band was led by Mike Antoine and Juliet de la Bastide, his consort, long-time partner Peter Blood telling me that precisely because of its Trinidadian connections "Power x 4" enjoyed a certain cachet and where I saw for myself Big Mike's band getting loud cheer after loud cheer as each section left the parade track and ran close to where the spectators were sitting, a sure-fire applause stealer that the big man had invented. Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where I could swear I heard more hotel-employed pannists than I have ever in my 50-odd years heard in Trinidad and where not one but two of the calypso finalists sang so glowingly about "pan" that I was once again stricken with awe (there's no other word) by the still-travelling thing those unlettered black boys had invented in the barrackyards of Port of Spain, even as Society was scornfully asking:

"What stupidness are you all doing," even as Society's servants savaged their pans and beat up their bodies until they were black and blue. Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where I had to tell more than one eager young journalist interviewing me that Barbadians have to move away from, even subconsciously, wanting to relate their Carnival to Trinidad's Carnival in that, since they asked me, I'd have to answer "Well done, Barbados", the point being that the islands do themselves little justice by seeking to slavishly imitate things Trinidadian, the sensible and, indeed, sensitive Trinidadian expectation being that the Grand Kadooment would be an occasion for them to unleash their own native wit and imagination, the time coming when Trinbagonians will be secure enough in their Carnival selves to borrow back from the people who have borrowed from us. Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where I heard the talented Edwin Yearwood, "party monarch" perennial, talk about the problems of marketing soca world-wide, the music so diverse and ownership so disputed that it continues to lag far behind reggae/dance-hall, the Jamaicans having so aggressively marketed their culture that rasta-locked Bajans, Trinis, Vinceys, whoever, run the risk of being greeted at well, white airports, by the salutation:

"Hail Jah, Rastafari!" Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where in the luxury of the "Savannah" hotel (Sunday's international buffet and Monday's wine/ravioli/lobster dinner rollicking in the sea of memory) I heard Kevin Lyttle on BET, contrary to his Trinidadian detractors (what an insecure people we are when what we consider our own other people take and make their own!) "big up" Trinidad and Tobago as the fountain-head of mas, calypso, steelband, the very Carnival arts that have helped him to zip up the American and European video charts. Hmmm...

Back from Barbados where at UWI's fete I sat on a chair, under the second of the month's full moons, and listened as a classy disc-jockey played a mix of Trini/Bajan calypsoes and set me thinking a number of things, among them, that Kitch's "Pan in A Minor" is, by now, an established classic as is Gabby's "Boots" and Sparrow's "Education" with Stalin's "Black Man Come Out To Party", Sparrow's "Lying Excuses", Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" and Ras Iley's "Spring Garden Ah Coming" about to join them. Hmmm..

Back from Barbados, where under that self-same moon, I fell into a discussion with some UWI academics and joined them as we repeated the old "saws" that have to do with Caribbean cultural traditions, the talk turning on the relatively recent Guyanese presence in Barbados but widening to note how elastic the island cultures have been and must continue to be even "Anglo-conservative" Bar-bados, so to speak, perhaps surprising itself by the way it is opening up itself to new impulses even as, let it be said, one among us cavilled that given the behaviour of at least a minority of the young, that new worldliness, so to speak, may not augur, not always anyhow, for the better or even the good. Hmmm....

Courtesy: Trinidad Express.
Posted October 8, 2004


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