Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
Good Tuesday morning to All: We should all be familiar with the numerous individuals and groups who entered the arena claiming to want to "do something for pan". (Boogsie) From Arnold to Ramsey-Moore, neither of these current or former presidents of the steelbands' association (Pan Trinbago) have ever come remotely close to the long list of successes of the "Godfather" of the Steelband Movement, George "Sonny" Goddard. As Co-Founder of steelbands' major event, Panorama, Goddard's long list of accomplishments are noted here on When Steel Talks. (See. "Who Am I?") Recently, Diaz was interviewed by one of his former executive members (more on that sinister character later), and the former president boasted of his accomplishments, including the International Conference On Pan (ICP) and its accompanying "international Panorama". I published the entire report of the government-conducted audit related to Diaz and his executive's practices during that time, and the reader can form their own conclusions as to Diaz's successes, not in terms of personal financial gains, but in terms of the subculture's masses of "panmen" and "panwomen".
Then, we witnessed a bunch of alliances being formed; the "Concerned Individuals For Pan" (CIP), the Ramsey-Moore led "New Visionaries" (NV), the "Big 5". We saw the Codrinton Pan Family doing their own thing, and Vanessa Headley making news for her contributions, however, when faced with real life situations like disease, neither were financially-stable enough to handle them without reaching out for help. Tragic. I spoke to Dr. Lance Seunarine who tried to get a pension fund going here on this site, and it saddened me to hear that he now faces his own health challenges.
When I graduated from college in 2008, I wanted to put my education to use in serving my community, that being the steelband community in Trinidad and Tobago. I intended to use my knowledge and training in the field of psychology to help shape how I looked at the numerous issues and challenges facing the steelbands, and in particular, their membership. Due to that social science approach, I understood that i needed data; field research became a required step, if I was to even stand a chance to be successful in my goals. And, I wanted all of us to grow together, and that was the premise behind my suggesting we started a When Steel Talks Book Club. The idea never gained traction.
Goddard was successful because he understood leadership. He also understood what it took, if the goal was "building for eternity", which is what he assumed the entire body he represented wanted. This is why, prior to the association becoming infested with political hacks, steelbands experienced their "golden years"; an era referred to as steelbands' "Coming of Age". Goddard laid out a solid foundation that would have withstood the time test, had it not been for those who began chipping away at the foundation, beginning in 1970, and finalized with the Act 5 of 1986.
Foundation removed and demolished, the association became a decaying carcass, and, naturally, the “culture vultures” showed up like corbeaux at the swollen lifeless body of a stay dog, struck by a passing truck on the Beetham Highway. Then King Corbeaux showed up in his Black regalness [sic], and the real feasting began. No one would (or should) judge the “success” of the body (Pan Trinbago) by the well-fed look of the vultures. You don’t judge the success of body, by how well it fed its leader, but by how well the leader fed the body!
Of course, once on solid ground and on strong foundation, “building for eternity” requires the construction of the first floor: values. And, this is where, again, Goddard succeeded and others failed. In my next blog post, I will peel the proverbial onion and expose the “building blocks” needed for both the foundation and the first floor. Without them, anything you build will not be structurally-sound, and will always remain in a compromised position, waiting to come tumbling down like a deck of cards. Building something that will last is not guess work. It takes skill; skill informed by study and research. Skill independent of bias and; or prejudices, and skill that demands truthful, factual evidence, and not premised on conspiracy theories or mischievous intent. Because the vultures have been lauded and praised for their great job at devouring the carcass, they have become enabled and, as such, will continue on their “eat-ah-food” rampage, until all that remains are the dry, white bones of what once was a steelband body.
George D. Goddard.