Thank God for Carnival

By Derren Joseph’
February 22, 2009

So it’s Carnival Sunday once again. The country is alive with that special energy. Today, I extend a special “welcome home” to those of the Trinbagonian diaspora who are “home” for the festivities. For many who reside abroad, this pilgrimage is an important way of connecting with our “roots.” In the travel and tourism industry, we call these people VFR traffic, that is, those who come to visit friends and relatives.

Derren Joseph logoMy uncle Steve is one of these overseas-based Trinis who visits for Carnival when he can. Last week, Uncle Steve was sharing with me his memories of Carnival growing up. His mother discouraged him from participating in Carnival, because of its association with violence and negativity. In secondary school, Short Pants helped me understand just how important history is. So now, I enjoy talking to the elders about Trinidad in times gone by. We could never know where we are going until we appreciate where we came from. This Carnival I enjoyed my calypso. Despite rumours to the contrary, calypso is alive and well. Kudos to Pink Panther, Brother Resistance, Karega Mandela and the rest of the TUCO executive.

It has been a good season. Audiences in the tents and bigger concerts were good. I especially liked the idea of making tent tickets available online and having shows at Fiesta Plaza in MovieTowne. This Carnival I enjoyed my soca. Kudos to Machel Montano on sanctifying the Heavenly Drums in his message this year. Won’t Stop is still my favourite for Road March. My favourite fete memories this year involve bands like Kes and Roy Cape singing ole time calypso from Sparrow and Kitch. Soca and calypso are like two brothers born from the same father. This Carnival I enjoyed my pan. Kudos to Pan Trinbago on a great Website:

I live in Petit Valley, and was blessed with sweet pan music floating through the night air, as nearby HCL Valley Harps would practise on evenings. This Carnival I enjoyed the free concerts. Kudos to sponsors like Power 102FM and bmobile who put on free concerts in Woodford Square. This Carnival I am enjoying my Queen’s Park Savannah. Kudos to Howard Chin Lee and the team at the National Carnival Commission (NCC) on overseeing what we Trinis consider the greatest show on earth. The upgraded “greens” and mini Carnival Village were some of the little touches that were almost universally-appreciated.

This Carnival I will enjoy my mas. Last Sunday, I was sitting in a waiting room at Cascadia Hotel with many others, excitedly waiting for our numbers to be called, to go into the next room to collect our costumes. A Tribe video was playing at the front of the room. Dean Ackin was commenting on the band. For a moment, my mind went back to the new Peter Minshall documentary that was recently screened. At that moment, I thought: suppose Minshall and Tribe were to combine and bring out a single band. Wow! That would be something! Unity of what my friend Bose would term, “mas from the heart,” and contemporary commercial mas? We have so much to be thankful for.

Permit me to borrow a verse from King David Rudder:
Our Father who has given us this art
So that we can all feel as if we are a part
Of your heaven….amen
Forgive us this day our daily weaknessess
As we seek to cast our mortal burdens on this painful city…amen
And on this day when we come out to play and sway
And do a little breakaway
Some will say what they have to say
But only you know the pain we’re feeling…..amen
As it was in the beginning of J’Ouvert
So it shall be on Carnival Tuesday ending (good vibes)…amen
Be safe for Carnival, regardless of what you do.

As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country. We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done all around us.

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