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Yet Another Slight For The Steelbands By The Trinidad & Tobago Government?

I hope I misunderstood, but I was perusing the Express Online this morning, and I read where PM Kamla Bissesar, and her administration, have launched a nationwide celebration of Trinidad & Tobago's 50th Independence anniversary, which is planned to continue through the month of December.


Firstly, I hope ALL PNM Haterz, do some research, as to how this party, under Dr. Eric Williams, won that battle against a World "Superpower", and you will see that not ALL of PNM history deserves our ridicule. They did some great things! And some really bad ones; agreed. (And I am no big fan of either, but the Doc saw to it that I could have attended Trinity College as a poor, Black child, growing up in class-based colonial Trinidad.)

My main issue with the PM's plans, though, has to do with the fact that they included a solo steelpan player, yet , and entire dance company, an entire tassa (drum) group, and, an entire "rhythm section". I really find that disrespectful to the steelbands, for the history of the instrument, is wrapped up in the collective, not the individual. It was STEELBANDS, made up of individuals. Why not hire a solo tassa drummer? The relevance of the instrument we affectionately call a "pan", is in the ranges of "voices", originally for the poly-syncopation of African drum rhythms, then, for the melodic, counter-melodic, and harmonic forms of Western musical orchestras. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing pan in a variety of contexts, however, I feel it would be more appropriate, to "celebrate" our independence, by showing our national instrument in its true histo-cultural persona- THE STEELBAND!

What do you think? Are you okay with this arrangement? Me, I think it's ALL about MONEY! I'm sure the usual excuse will pop up: "The cost of transporting steelbands is too expensive." What about a nine month celebration, how expensive is that? Couldn't you celebrate for, say, six months instead, so you can hire an ENTIRE steelband? Thank goodness, it's not our Centennial; we would be celebrating for 18 months! And I also question the performance fees; is the "panman" going to make the same income as all the other performers, or are the fees skewered, based on other criteria? As far as I am concerned, this is, yet, another slight of the steelbands, and proof of the urgent need for the "revival" of the STEELBAND MOVEMENT!

Pan'tum - The Ghost Who Talks. Honoring the Legacy of George "Sonny" Goddard

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BTW- I meant "her administration".

What we need is a social uproar Pan'tum , like what they are doing all over the world. But the first thing  Kamla and her administation would say is that this uproar is coming from Trini's not even living in the country. What we need is all Trinbagonian panpeople back home to get together and bombard her Facebook and Twitter account and Pan-Trinbago .( Oh boy--- I hope she has Facebook and Twitter ). This is absolutely insane. Why are these politicians so disrespectful about their own instrument -- we pan ?? Somebody back home with influence  , please do something. I am heading home soon -- ah want to hear meh pan .

She could say whatever she likes; I am STILL a BORN and BRED, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO CITIZEN, a registered party-member in my constituency of Diego Martin West, and the son, grandson, and cousin of George "Sonny" Goddard, De Wilton Rogers, Pelham Goddard, Wendy Fitzwilliam, and Peter Blood. Americans can absentee vote when away from their country, because their rights do not go away upon leaving the US. I dare the a**hole, who wants to play that game with me. Patriotic? What have YOU done for country or fellowman/woman? So, Emile, they have NO ideas, and hate on those who do. Like a husband with erectile dysfunction, they become insecure and threatened whenever a REAL VIRILE, WELL-ENDOWED PLAYA, come to take over. Heard of "penis envy". Well, they have "panis envy". lol GHOST.


We do not need any social uproar.

What we need is a steelband organization that understands the political potential of steel bands , their members and their supporters.

The pan people in T&T are sufficient in numbers to give an organization like Pantrinbago a strong hand to play in politics regardless of the party in power.

They have the potential for serious  political clout, to influence government to meet their needs.

They just have to know how to use it.

Let's imagine for example that Pantrinbago or a similar organization was to put the word out that the were going to suggest to their hundreds of steelbands and thousands of members to take a particular stand on an issue and to support politicians who supported those issues, what do you think would happen?

Ghost. you should know what I'm talking about

I'm sure George"Sonny" Goddard understood this, and so did The Doc!

Well said GRJ. I believe that "pan' will be well represented for the celebrations. Doh hut yuh head.


The pan people in T&T are sufficient in numbers to give an organization like Pantrinbago a strong hand to play in politics regardless of the party in power.

But Glenroy, don't the majority of pan people already belong to Pantrinbago?

They have the potential for serious  political clout, to influence government to meet their needs.

How will this be achieved?  What exactly is this political clout? Especially when you consider the class and racial issues in Trinidad.  Additionally, what will you do if they say no?

Let's imagine for example that Pantrinbago or a similar organization was to put the word out that the were going to suggest to their hundreds of steelbands and thousands of members to take a particular stand on an issue and to support politicians who supported those issues, what do you think would happen?

Based on the past responses - I suspect the response would be "so" - "big deal" - "why don't you pan people go in the corner and die"

Glenroy, the Doc used the subtle (and many times not so subtle) threat of riots, civil unrest, no business as usual - none of that applies today.


As long as an organization could deliver votes at election time, then they have clout, Bugs.

You gently remind politicians that you could have your people work and vote for them, work against them, or stay out of politics altogether, whichever is most effective.

This applies to all political parties, I am sure organizing steelbands could be an effective political weapon.

PanTrinbago could use the votes of their members as a bargaining chip.

Labor unions and other organizations in democratic societies do it all the time.

I'm surprised that this is such a difficult concept for you to grasp.

Glenroy we are not talking about other democratic societies.  We are talking about Trinidad and Tobago.  This is not some theoretical or make-believe island. We are talking about a special interest (pan) within a special interest group (poor Afro Trinidadians).  What exactly is "work against them"? Are you so sure that being known as the political party finally got Trinidad Steelband problem under control is nothing more than a badge of honor in Trinidad (speak to the current cultural minister)?

We've seen some egregious acts against the Trinidad steelpan movement in the last two years, like the funny math in panorama monies, an attack on the g-pan, the elimination of the national steel orchestras and the cut of stipend to players among others - I didn't see any cavalry coming to save the pan people.

Glenroy exactly what or who are the alternatives you seem imply the pan man in Trinidad has?


No struggle is won by "gentle" reminders to politicians, and NONE of the social advancements came about without aggressive action!. I am confused, as to why some of you seem to forget of the time when the steelbands were POLITICALLY POWERFUL. If they were not, then, Geddes Granger would have not sought their support in 1970/71, Valentino would not have been allowed to sing his "No Revolution" in Kitchener's tent, an "uneducated" pan leader would have not been solicited by not only Makandal Daaga, but ANR Robinson (DAC), to run as a candidate for election, nor would we have found the government appointing him to a position of Advisor, and commissioning him to document the history of the steelbands. He would not have been introduced to the Queen of England, and the steelbands would not have been considered to quell the urban street violence of Harlem, New York. Like the PNM, the Steelband Movement, was once a very powerful, relevant force, that the government knew they had to reckon with. Fast forward to the formation of Pan Trinbago, and you now have a government-controlled bunch of sycophants, politically placed to kill the movement and destroy its leadership and leaders. We can ALL thank the Trinidad & Tobago govenment (all administrations) for the lack of power, and the lack of desire to be powerful, for even today, as this GHOST discusses the relevant issues, their are those who think that politics have no place in pan. And that is to our detriment, for even Dr. Eric Williams reminded my dad that, "Politics decide if you eat, what you eat, and when you eat." So, Glenroy, your idea is not novel; in fact, that IS what defined THE STEELBAND MOVEMENT UNDER GEORGE "SONNY" GODDARD'S LEADERSHIP. Do the research; the history of the "movement" IS about the value of political power. Were it not for "political" decisions, the Steelband Music Festival, TASPO, NATTS, and the National Steelband would not have materialized. Were it not for political reasons, the NATTS membership would not have called a boycott, the same boycott that Despers broke. Why? Party politics, and loyalty to the PNM and Eric Williams, and not the members of the non-profit (workers') union, of which they were also a member. Maybe, you need to revisit THE HISTORY OF THE STEELBAND MOVEMENT, which deals with the "politics", not the instrument, and the sociology, not the musicology. Agreed, both are relevant to telling the TRUE story of pan. Unfortunately, because of "politics", the socio-political history is suppressed. And, that is where the GHOST becomes relevant!


Pan'tum - The Ghost Who Talks. Honoring the Legacy of George "Sonny" Goddard.

Ghost , You are agreeing with me apparently without knowing it. What I'm trying to say is that political action is the answer , and that means the power to deliver votes.

George Goddard knew this and used it, because Doctor Williams also knew it.

Also I may add, I believe Rudolph Charles also knew it. Dr Williams knew the power Rudolph Charles had over his constituents in Laventille, and I'm sure there was quid pro quo.

Don't  tell me the modern steel band leadership cannot deliver votes.(Unless they're in the politicians pockets, then that's a different matter)

Come on, Bugs and Ghost, it isn't that complicated. 

Glenroy, I know we agree on some points. Here is where I disagree with you:

1 That "gentle reminders to politicians" is the answer.

2. That party loyalty and our votes mean ANYTHING to ANY politician, and Dr. Eric Williams gave empty promises for over a decade, before the steelbands got it; that he was none other than a politician, and could not care less about the need of the steelbands or their members.

3.Rudolph Charles was a BIG political football, and went against his own interests, manipulated by the more-educated Eric Wiliams. That certain actions by Rudolph were against the progress of the steelbands.

4. Of course, the modern steel band can deliver votes, and I am sure they will. And yes, they are in the "politician's pockets"; Pan Trinbago is a government-controlled body, loyal to party politics. Used to be PNM, but I'm not sure who now. And, I'm not sure what that means for the average panman of panwoman. (Maybe, you can clarify.)

5. It is very complicated; a culture of poor governance, nepotism, lack of transparency, and after over 60 years, we are still having discussions about how powerful we are. The modern leadership does not have the vision, the support of the entire pan fraternity, nor a grasp on exactly how they are supposed to function. And, yes, it is not easy, to have the respect, trust and faith of thousands of followers. and maybe my dad made it look easy, but it is in fact: COMPLICATED! Especially, when dealing with a bunch of Trinidadians & Tobagonians, with bloted egos, and varying political and religious attitudes and opinions. (It is easier said than done.) Thanks for your, response, Glenroy. 


Glenroy you have facts, evidence, motive and results and yet you still denied what is going on. For example, Glenroy, all you have to do is look at went on with the government allocation of the 2million dollar prizes two years ago. Look at what was executed. Look at the response. From a timeline perspective what you saw there was the beginning of a a carefully executed devaluing of a people, culture and art form in terms of financial, social and historical importance. That by itself is nothing new but the successful execution of this dastardly deeds without a response is unrepresented.  The late Terry Joseph had to be kicking and screaming in his grave. Not one band should have crossed the stage in 2010.  And any steelband executive who allowed his band to participate in their own lynching is a fool.

Look at the facts Glenroy.



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