When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

By Raffique Shah
January 11, 2018

...Except for the steelband component which is rising in spite of Carnival, every other aspect what was once the people’s festival has been hijacked by the vultures, the mafia, call them what you will. A slick cabal of promoters controls the fete venues and the bands-in-demand. Mas’ costumes, if they can be so described, consist of bikinis-and-beads made in China. The jarring excuse for music is mostly determined by a sounds-systems mafia. And the near-naked, whiter-shades-of-pale players are roped off from what is left of spectators by muscled slaves, sights, sounds and scenes reminiscent of worst excesses of decadent ancient and medieval empires.

And Government is using my tax dollars to fund this madness, this insult to my dignity? No! I protest! Up until around 2005, I was very much a carnival person. I made the rounds of calypso tents…until the art form declined and other than vintage fare, there was little to listen to. My lime attended a few fetes&until noise displaced music. And we were veteran street spectators, savouring the artistry of the great craftsmen, until they were booted out by strips of fabric that left nothing to exercise even one’s imagination.

Only the steelband stood apart and aloof of this decay, and while Panorama and competition are important to pan players, the din of the DJs and general noise levels at Carnival time have all but chased the national instrument from the streets. I prefer panyard limes and concerts where bands perform their full repertoires, and where pan prodigies and virtuosos are at their best.

Because I am partial towards pan does not mean I am blind to the failures of the fraternity, especially Pan Trinbago. With hundreds of millions of State-dollars pumped into pan over the past 50 years, nothing can explain why the organisation does not own its headquarters and the biggest, most profitable pan factory in the world...

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It's only the politicians that don't see what's happening in the land.

Comment from the original Blog...

Brother Shah, an A++ on this weeks topic. The last time i checked, Culture meant the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. It also includes the set of shared values, attitudes, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.Take your pick, can we place any of the above describe words in Trinidad? does Trinidad really have a Culture? an Assimilation of different groups on an Island coming together to “play themselves” does not constitute Culture. You hilighted the Steel Band, and rightly so, but wasn’t the Steel Band born out of the the very same type of social upheavals of a bygone era? the Crime infested Zones of today, is reminiscent of an earlier time. Carnival originated from activism, Cane Boule riots, the Crescendo of weeks and months of planning to hit the planters, the 1%ters at the time, a blow that they would never forget, have today been hijacked by the very same people we historically fought against.I personally, would not term them Vultures, a vulture is very distinctive sky living Bird, that cleans waste, dead waste, left behind by human/ animals, an island like Trinidad, lacking Culture, will come across as sub-humans, looking like humans, but in reality animals. The greatest mis-conception of Trinidad’ Carnaval, was the inclusion of Chutney to the melee, this infusion, did nothing whatsoever to uplift the people nationally, the baseline, was all about RUM and promiscuity, not one nation building song, it was easier to use Bollywood songs with an African beat to make their point, this is what you have as “we Cultyay”. Carnival, as we used to know it has been long dead, Minshall and his house slaves saw to that Marchel and his Trash music saw to that, the Bumper will be the final nail in the coffin, the originators of Trinidad Carnaval, their children are all outside looking in, not able to truly participate. the gloriously great days of historical art chipping down de savannah, are times gone bye, we are left with skimpy, callously dress women, and steroid taking young men, making abject fools of themselves. Gov’t, in all climes, regardless how we look at it, will contribute in keeping down the anxiety, the build in stress is paraded, while they jamming still into nothingness. I am forever appalled, my question is, what would make a Woman place her palms on the ground, her but up in the air, SEX simulating in Ah carnival fete or on the road? even animals, don’t act in that manner. The quality of a nations culture, is base on the attitude of it’s women.There are two types of people , yes people and no people. “TAKE AH PICK”.

January 11, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Lt Shah

I agree with you 100%. I have heard the song the that Carnival generates Millions, if not Billions of dollars for the country each year but I have not seen the proof of this claim. The promoters of these “cultural” events claim that they are not making money but they arrange and hold these same events year after year. Common sense will dictate that if there was no money making in it why would they continue year after, in one case, 23 years. Band leaders make millions each year. Have they not put back any investment in improving the Carnival event. They go to the government every year for our money.

There should be accountability for all the millions of dollars given to owners/managers of these events. It should be a requirement if you ask government of money year after they should present an audited financial statement showing how the money was spent and what profit/loss was made. In addition these organizations and individuals (band leaders included) must present a statement from the Inland Revenue department showing that they have paid any taxes due on the profit of these events. It is scandalous that the citizens of TT have given these “Culture Vultures” so much money and no accountability. It is time we the people take back our country from bad politicians and fraudsters.

How yuh go do dat?

If the country in a bind, doh give nobody no money and lehwe jam still. Ah mean "no damn money".


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