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Carnivals of the World - Top 10 of 2013

Okay...A few things jumped out at me, looking over this online article. Firstly, why is Trinidad and Tobago Carnival sold all over the World as "Caribbean" or "West Indies" Carnival? Were Brooklyn, Notting Hill, and Caribana Carnivals existent prior to Trinbagonians taking their "Trini culture" with them to New York, Britain, and Canada? What elements of those Carnivals, are not influenced by Trinidad and Tobago Carnival? In my opinion, they are ALL Trini Carnivals, celebrated in different countries. One would note, that Brazil Carnival is not called South American Carnival; Notting Hill Carnival is not called English or British Carnival; New Orleans Mardi Gras is not called American Mardi Gras; and Caribana is referred to as "Toronto Mas", and not Canadian Mas. What was/is wrong with claiming our contribution of our Carnival to the World; that we have to call it Caribbean or West Indian Carnival? Didn't the rest of the Caribbean/West Indies adopt our "Trini Carnival"?

Secondly, why do the short descriptions on Brooklyn and Notting Hill Carnivals, mention steelband and pan as part of the ritual, but the description on Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival does not? It mentions only calypso and soca, but not steelband music. Is this coincidental, or a simple overlooking of the role of steelbands in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival? What are they selling, as they market Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago? Certainly not steelband, and to begin to understand the underlying reasons, one MUST take that historic journey (back) to steelband's origins. One must begin to understand that "Trini Carnival" consists of two parallel and non-converging events: the celebration of the Bourgeois-class, and the celebration of the ex-slave class. Two entirely different experiences, met with two entirely different societal attitudes. Again, no surprise on my end, that steelbands would be omitted from anything that's related to the promotion of "Trinidad and Tobago Carnival".

Thirdly, and finally, the description on Trinidad and Tobago Carnival recognizes that "African culture, brought by African slaves..." influenced this version of Mardi Gras. No mention is made of any East Indian cultural influences. Why? Are we to assume that East Indian culture had no role; added nothing to the Carnival of our twin-island nation? Or was that an omission of convenience, as in the omitting of the steelbands? What, if any, contributions to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival can be credited to East Indian culture? Ole mas? No. Steelband? No. Calypso? No. It seems that the only "contribution" that is influenced by East Indian culture, is the recent inclusion of chutney, which in itself is influenced by soca, which is influenced by calypso. So, while we see the disappearing of the steelbands at Carnival time, we see the emergence of "chutney brass bands". In essence, an offspring of Carnival is told to get out, while an offshoot becomes the adopted Carnival baby. In my inquiring state, I ask, if not to myself only, why? And then, I look at our society and get the answers. The fact remains, that East Indian culture supersedes African culture in Trinidad and Tobago, where we have become assimilated into East Indian culture (foods, religion, music, etc.), and reject African culture, regardless of whether we are of African descent or not. I welcome honest responses. Shem Em Hotep (May you go in peace).

Ghost. Same philosophy; different attitude.

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You are right-on! About the omissions or careless descriptions I think they are not intentional. We have a cultural tendency to be sloppy and say it-good-so! Being precise and specific is not how many of us think!  I hesitate to agree that there is a disappearanc of steel bands at Carnival time, particularly because of what I see happening in the urban areas. In my area, eg., in the city no steel band exists until 4 weeks or so before Carnival. There seems to be a growing tendency to have small bands emerging from church groups or even NGOs; from communities in Belmont, Carenage, etc. These are encouraged, I believe, by Pan leaders. Just chipped to one such outside Queen's Hall this pm.

Just my 2 cts!


You raised some interesting questions, I’ll try to deal with the “Chutney” if you observe the quality of the shows, Soca Monarch doesn’t come close to their quality of production.

The answer lies with those who claim to love Pan and Calypso and its promotion. We don’t have a permanent stage for Steelband Panorama Finals, who attends steelband finals or attend the Calypso Monarch finals? Where are all those supporters who came to the prelims or those from the greens, are the seats in grand stand and north stand sold out? It’s all about economics supply and demand.

The history and its origins are good to know but economic dynamics are changing. Create and market a quality product and people will buy and support the shows.

Like Chalkie says in his kaiso ‘I In Town Too Long’ “who own all dem trucks pulling steelbands around”? Talk about contribution...http://youtu.be/BMt3ujBWpTE

We cannot think like that. The World knows that Trinidad is the Land of the Steel band.  Even though Most steel bands are made up off Trinidadians there are also contributions by other West Indians. We should be all proud that we can share our Pan Culture with our Caribbean Brothers & Sisters. We cannot be selfish. Its by sharing  that we can spread our Culture.

Not all the world knows Trinidad is the land and calypso and steelband, Trinidad & Tobago has a lot more to do about improving its image and its identity. When I hear a steel drum/pan played on a commercial I don’t atomically think of Trinidad, it could be an ad for a resort in Bahamas or some other island in the Caribbean, it could be a sound inviting me to come and live or learn to beat pan in Morgantown West Virginia.

It’s only around carnival time you see the Ministry of Tourism hire some well-know personality from the USA or where-ever to come on an all-expenses paid vacation to celebrate the events with the locals. On their return to their home base, they don’t do anything to promote the steelband art-form or the music.

Here’s an excerpt from an article by by Kevin Baldeosingh titled "Carnival Dollars Wine" spotlighting the local dynamics on the politics of carnival, the same can be said for the for the stake holders for carnivals staged in New York, Canada and UK and others mentioned in the post.

“Much of the answer has to do with politics. This injection of State funding indicates the politicians perceive there is some electoral benefit to be derived from supporting the events. Hence the reason the ads for Soca Monarch list about three or four ministries and, of course, the Prime Minister. Moreover, since the UNC depends mainly on Indo voters, the huge purses are seen by that party as a necessary tactic to win over the Afro votes required for victory at the polls. And, when the PNM returns to power, even though their base is already Afro, they will find it necessary to continue funding to the same or greater amounts.

This does not mean the political rationale doesn't also have an economic justification. In a 1998 study, UWI economist Keith Nurse calculated that Carnival generated a sevenfold profit, with the State investing about $12 million and visitors spending almost $90 million.

National Carnival Commission head Allison Demas, in a radio interview some weeks ago, said the NCC will be updating Nurse's study so that they can justify future budget demands to the Government. (Other persons have argued, however, that when State expenditure such as security, health care, and productivity losses are taken into account, Carnival is really a loss-making event: but Demas apparently didn't consider this a possible outcome of the planned survey.)

The only other empirical data on Carnival is equally outdated: a 1994 survey by UWI sociologist Roy McCree, who found that two-thirds of the populace listened to soca and calypso music, with about the same proportion being involved in Carnival either by playing mas or by watching it.

While these studies need to be updated, it is unlikely that the pattern has changed very much in the past 15 years. But, while it seems clear that Carnival does generate profits, what needs to be analyzed is whether these profits benefit the overall economy, or just the small minority of performers, band-leaders and their crews directly involved in the festival.”

odw: They like you to provide a link to the source document on this forum for copyright reasons.

—kbaldeosingh@hotmail.comCarnival dollars wine
Originally printed at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Carnival_dollars_wine-1...

Valentine, that is not the point I am trying to get at. I am not referring to sharing our culture; Jamaicans share theirs, and still proud to call it Jamaican culture. Americans still boast the theirs is the "greatest country on Earth", although they are a country of immigrants, with many different cultures.

I ask again, what contributions did the rest of the Caribbean/West Indies give, in what is known as "Caribbean Carnival"? And, is Brazil not "sharing" its Brazillian Carnival with the rest of South America, and the World at large? Should capoeira be sold as South American or American martial arts instead of Brazilian martial arts? Should reggae be considered Caribbean/West Indian music instead of Jamaican music? I could go on and on, but my point is, Trinidad and Tobago is the ONLY country in the ENTIRE WORLD, that believes giving away ownership and propriety, is synonymous with sharing. Jusy my opinion. Great hearing from you, by the way, Valentine. Have a safe, blessed evening. Ghost.

East Indian culture didn't have an influence on Carnival in its early stages since the arrival of Indian indentured labour didn't come until after emancipation.

The Indian contribution came much later and in an indirect manner which needn't be gone into here.

The main reasons that Indian culture seems to have an increasing influence on the carnival includes but is not limited to the fact that 50 percent of the population is now a participant that was not in the beginning.

Why this seems to supersede the African influence is primarily because the Indian population has maintained a greater connection to their roots than the African descendants have.

There was a time that some African descended Trinidadians would not even acknowledge their African heritage much less want to maintain a connection to it as evidenced by the dying out of the African traditions in the society as time went by.

In contrast the Indians sought to keep their culture alive and to even spread it to the African descended population through music, food, film etc.

It was only a matter of time before the Indian culture superimposed itself on the African derived carnival.

Good comment Wayne, might I add that the Indians have taken a leadership role in many areas in T&T and carnival is just one area where we see their involvement as told in Ray Holman song The Wedding.

What can I add to what you've said ?. Absolutely nothing, because you've hit the nail on the head, you've said it all. My only wish is that those of us who are concerned about the African contributions to "Our Culture" read what you have so eloquently spoken and take actions to preserve our presence in "We ting ". 

Click on the following link: Sugar Aloes v. Bodyguard (or Redman versus Dougla) Below is a sample:

“I believe Sugar Aloes does not want to offend the present regime so as not to get finance for the tent,” he said. “Some people are of the view that from the time you say African or Indian you are racist. It is in the context which you use it.” He said because of his mixed heritage he could not be accused of being racist, as he has “Indian blood” running through his veins but looked predominantly African." 

Article: "Aloes rejects 'race' song", by Geisha Kowlessar, Trinidad Guardian. (Roger “Bodyguard” Mohammed, himself of East Indian heritage, defends his song, "False Papers".)

Ghost Who Knows That If You Say "African or Indian", You Are (Considered) A Racist. At least, to those who fail to understand racism. smh.


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