The Splendor of Carnival 2008
February 22, 2008
The 2008 Carnival season, Boxing Day through the Carnival Tuesday on February 5th, came to a climatic end in Trinidad and Tobago as thousands of masqueraders and onlookers swarmed the main city centers for the various Carnival street parades. The early morning Jouvert celebrations took place simultaneously in city centers across Trinidad and Tobago, while on Carnival Tuesday, the Mas bands came out in their full glory as they chipped to the rhythmic Soca songs, to the delight of the thousands of onlookers. If the deeper meaning of Carnival is lost in this often frenzied display, then the preceding Canboulay Re-enactment on Carnival Friday helps to highlight the roots and deeper significance of Carnival.
Carnival and Canboulay: Roots and Resistance
Stick Fighting at the Canboulay Re-enactment
Preceding the Jouvert celebrations was the annual Canboulay Re-enactment, on Carnival Friday, which moved this year from the All Stars Pan Yard to the nearby Piccadilly Green in East Port of Spain. A large crowd of spectators gathered from as early as 4 a.m. for this commemoration of how ordinary African people fought to continue their cultural traditions. It was in 1881 that boismen and masqueraders faced off against Captain Baker and his men who were intent on stopping the procession and silencing the thumping rhythms of the African drums.
Fire-Breathing Blue Devil at the Canboulay Re-enactment
The boismen, masqueraders and jamettes faced off against Captain Baker and his men as the spectators looked on eagerly. Chants of resistance or 'Lavways' filled the air as the free Africans prepared themselves for the battle in which they were victorious. What was particularly significant in the re-enactment was how the jammette, the bold and fire-tongued barrack woman, was highlighted as an instigator of resistance and rebellion.
Canboulay Re-enactment 2008 in pictures:
Jouvert Morning Bacchanal
POS Mayor Murchison Brown with the King and Queen of Jouvert
In Port of Spain, regarded as the heart of the Carnival celebrations, the early morning Jouvert celebrations kicked off as Steelbands, Blue Devil Bands, Mud Bands, Traditional Sailors, Chocolate Bands and other Jouvert themed bands took to the streets where the pulsating sounds of Soca and Steelpan music dominated the atmosphere. At the judging point in South Quay, there was the Ole Mas competition which is renowned for its social, political and humorous messages. Lennox Joseph with his portrayal "The Homeless" was crowned Jouvert King while Patrica Goddard was crowned Jouvert Queen with her portrayal "Ah Could Only See Half Meh Way with Inflation".
Jouvert Morning Mudders
Native Indians, Jab Jabs, whip-cracking Devils, fire-breathing Blue Devils, Fancy Sailors and Dame Louraines all made their presence felt in the Jouvert bacchanal. Apart from the sights that have become most typical of the Jouvert experiences, there were some exciting surprises sprinkled into the mix. One of these was a contortionist, known as "Rubberman", who delighted the crowd by twisting his body in seemingly impossible positions. There was also Mr. Desmond Sobers, a veteran who has been putting on Mas since 1937, who portrayed 'Bookman-The Chief Accountant'.
Jouvert 2008 In PoS in pictures:
The Glory and Colour of Carnival Tuesday
Bandleader Big Mike leads Legacy masqueraders as they present
"Passages: A Journey through Africa"
Legacy masqueraders present "Passages: A Journey through Africa"
On Carnival Tuesday, all the bands came out in full color and glory as they sought to have a good time and impress both the judges and the thousands and thousands of spectators. In downtown Port of Spain, the large band Legacy was first to parade in front of the judges at the Lord Kitchener stand at about 8:30 a.m. Lead by band leader Mike 'Big Mike' Antoine and his famous line of strongmen, the portrayal was titled "Passages: A Journey through Africa". Their presentation involved a choreographed dance before the judges to the rhythmic sounds of African music. Led by their massive king, King Baka, a giant dreadlocked African with a spear, their other sections portrayed various peoples and places in Africa including the White Nile, the Luo dancers of Kenya, Moroccan dancers, Lake Turkana and the brilliant orange section titled "Saharan Sunset".
President George Maxwell Richards plays mas in Tribe with his wife Jean (L) and a friend
Masqueraders from Tribe's presentation "Myths and Magic"
One of the biggest bands to grace the downtown stage was Tribe's 2008 presentation "Myths and Magic" with such section names as "Black Magic" (where Minister Hazel Manning, the President of Trinidad and Tobago Prof. Max Richards, his wife and daughter played), "Mystical India", "Butterfly Bliss", "Lady of the Chase", "Water Nymph", "Sun Goddess" and "Silver Mist". The size of the band did not inhibit the creativity and enthusiasm of the bands.
Masqueraders from Ronnie and Caro's presentation "De Gulf"
Belmont Original Stylish Sailors (DE B.O.S.S.)
Ronnie and Caro, in the medium band category won the Harold Saldenah Band Of The Year Award with their presentation "De Gulf", while Belmont Original Stylish Sailors (DE B.O.S.S.) were impressive in winning the Small Band of the Year title.
MacFarlane's presentation "Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope"
Despite all the glorious and colourful presentations it was Mac Farlane's presentation that stole the spotlight for the second year running, winning the George Bailey Band Of The Year Award with their presentation "Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope". The presentation presented different elements that spoke out against the damage done to Mother Earth because of human greed. The audience were engaged and spellbound as sections passed by, each telling a piece of the story. There was the bourgeoisie section, representing society's elite, who are caught up enjoying the "finer things in life", while remaining ignorant of the ill-effects of their actions. Behind them came the masqueraders portraying barren trees and a section of skullmen representing death and destruction. There was the black-headed vultures and moko jumbies who walked behind the section of masqueraders portraying carcasses. King of Carnival, Jhahwan Thomas, was magnificent on stilts in his costume "Pandemic Rage".
MacFarlane's presentation "Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope"
Then, out of the theme of death, greed, violence, destruction and environmental degradation, came a contrasting theme titled "Wings of Hope" led by Rosalind Gabriel. Portrayed by children (representing the hope of the future), the sections with such titles as "Passion of Humanity", "Oceans of Rejuvenation", and "Grace" were designed by Brian Mac Farlane and conveyed that in spite of all that is negative, there is hope still. Mac Farlane's victory came against the backdrop of debate on the direction of the Mas in terms of the bikini and beads costumes versus the more traditional message-conveying depictions. The debate about the direction of Carnival and the controversy about the importation of Carnival costumes by some of the bands will remain issues as Trinidad Carnival evolves and changes.
It was clear that the thousands and thousands of revelers enjoyed themselves fully, as did the spectators. The statement that 'Carnival is woman' held true as females clearly dominated Carnival. Colourfully-clad masqueraders enthusiastically jumped and wined throughout the streets to their favorite Soca which included the 2008 Road March Winner 'Get On' sung by Faye-Ann Lyons and Blaxx's "Breathless".
Policeman under pressure keeps his posture
Carnival Tuesday 2008 in pictures: