When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

by Sharmain Baboolal


If this was titled self excellence, in the headline, Akinola Sennon would have been blacklisted by the time his band, Siparia Deltones, crossed the stage at the Panorama semifinals. His refreshing arrangement of Ella Andall's Festival Song reminds the audience that Deltones is alive.

The band was founded by Ellis Knight originally of John John , Laventille, after he took a train from Port of Spain and came out at the last stop where the panyard is now located in Siparia.

And while it has a rich and controversial history as even when he was a schoolboy Len Boogsie Sharpe was wooed to arrange for them after his arrangements for Tropical Angel Harps in Chaguanas stirred up the South Central Zone making the Deltones search for him. And then there was Clive Bradley and Carlton Zanda for whom the band was just a short distance from the family home where he still resides. And they called him to come from Canada to arrange for them.
Zanda is from the Andall line through one of his parents.

This was not necessarily a consideration when Akinola arranged the selection for Deltones. Indeed, the Zanda student who was priviliged to work on a project with the late Hugh Masekela from Siparia to Soweto, is a man with a mission. Undaunted by the steep uphill climb to battle the beast he has declared his intent with this arrangement.

"It is a focus on the African community of Trinidad and Tobago", he said meaning Afro Trinbagonian youths

"The youth in the community seems to be wandering
"There is a beast that exists..like a breeze that blows in a certain direction and you will blow with it.

"Art is the highest form of communication, music is the highest form of art.
"So a predominant mechanism for providing this breeze for you to blow with will be through music.’....the music that demoralize the youth- music that promotes self hate- that promotes disunity that provides platforms for you to do a disservice to your body and to your health both physically and mentally by drug intakes and sexual abuse.

."Àbusive acts are becoming a trending thing and this is evident in their engagements that is becoming more and more popular.

"One of the typical reasons for this is coming from a lack of foundation in self awareness and self appreciation.

"If one does not have a self awareness and self appreciation- any breeze that blows will take you with it.

"This beast know that so long as you- that African youth- bows with this breeze- he has succeeded in maintaining his position for probably yet another 60 to 75 years which is the span of generation.

"This position that I speak about is that position where you stand on the backs of the African man to be able to engage a certain lifestyle for yourself and your community.

"Since that mechanism is a tool that is being used in this downpression process, I think in the plea to engage uprising and decolonialisation, the said weapon must be used which is music .

"The steel band and steel pan movement in itself is definitely a tool that promotes awareness of self, that promotes self excellence, that promotes unification so we are choosing the Festival song by Ella Andall which is really speaking to all of this.
"Ella says she feels like dancing tonight- feel like celebrating tonight and calling on her pan players and drummers and her youth to engage this celebration," he said.
"As we celebrate victory in a battle in this festival song because we still have an existing steelpan fraternity which reflects continuity over the past century,.

"We are keeping an eye open that the war is ongoing and we have many battles to fight to ensure that our people get up from their backs and return to that elite status where we know who we are and know where we are going and engage that ideology of self excellence on an individual and collective level" Akinola said.
So when he leads his band on Sunday it will be going against the wind.

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....Good Luck and Best Wishes to the Saparia Deltones Organization,,,Akinols Sennon is a talented steelpan musician and visionary and is doing great work with the young people in the Siparia community and environs......


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