Calypso

Sounds of a party – a political party

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Peeps, I returned home from exploring the millennia old civilisations of the Incas of Peru and older ones of the Mayas of Belize to the sounds of a party. Blaring loudspeakers woke me up this morning and have been going non stop since between spurts of some newly concocted calypso – made me wonder if I had misjudged the time and it was Carnival Monday. They are announcing some political meeting or the other; and begging for my vote, and meh road still aint fix though I hear all parts getting box drains and thing, so I vex.

So peeps, you know I am a sceptic so help me decide. Who should get my vote? 

Seeing that we have given up the traditional systems of governance where the people’s needs were central to the commune – the traditional governance systems of the Incas that still influence agricultural practices in Peru; the communal systems of the Mayans, the panchayat system of India and village systems of Africa, and survival skils of Maroons of Mooretown and Rastafari in Jamaica for this West Minster thing that want to become the US Presidential thing – yeah – the same US system that right now holding the American public to ransom over some petty power play.
Trying to open Caricom eyes to what reparations really mean, instead I opened my mailbox and there was a polling card  – along with all kinds of documents of misdeeds here and there ’cause that’s wat mail boxes are for, aint?  I need to be convinced if I should vote, and who for, and why? So convince me nah, and keep the comments clean, okay, my vote’s on you… Website: krisrampersadglobal

Old Casked Rum: The Emperor’s New Tools#1 – Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T 

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Call made to preserve local heritage

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Opening Remarks
Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO at the Community Based Inventorying Workshop, Trinidad and Tobago, June 22, 2013.

 On behalf of the National Commission for UNESCO greetings and welcome to this the third in a series of Caribbean based workshop in Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Jamaica, funded by the Government and people of Japan to help our societies safeguard for future generations our intangible living heritage.

This is of course one of several capacity building exercises in which the National Commission is engaged to help develop national capacity, whether it is in creating classrooms like this or sending nationals to benefit from UNESCO training and capacity building opportunities elsewhere.
In this, today we are one step closer to safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage through the mechanisms and provisions of the in Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention – often referred to as the 2003 Convention
It is one of several conventions, quasi legal instruments promoted by UNESCO, to capture, preserve and share the rich diversity of our lifestyles and cultures with each other and promote peace and understanding among our communities and between societies.
This is an exercise to empower our communities and practitioners and knowledge holders in retaining and transmitting knowledge, skills and practices as much as it is in strengthening the mechanisms for researching, documenting, archiving, inventorying for the benefit of future generations.
We think of and lament loss of those knowledge holders who have taken stock of knowledge with them: like Peter Harris who died recently with much of his research and knowledge of prehistoric societies of Trinidad and Tobago passing with him without our realisation of how such knowledge could enrich our understanding of ourselves and of our societies and for our future generations. We must move quickly to capture the accumulated knowledge and experiences these knowledge holders have and let that be part of our thinking when we think of drawing up our inventories – who are some of the most critical sources of knowledge that we should reach before we lose them and irretrievably, too, lose their knowledge.
We are here to strengthen identification of who and what we are; to quote a popular calypso  – how we does walk, how we does talk, how we does cook, how we does lime and wine, key elements that place us among representatives of the sea of humanity that is the UNESCO community.
The focus of this convention on intangible cultural heritage is on the living expressions, knowledge and skills and traditions in the performing arts, oral traditions, practices, beliefs, festivals
Though intangible, we know that they are pivotal to holding the diverse fabric of our social tapestry together, to help intercultural dialogue among ourselves and with communities similar or different elsewhere to promote and, encourage mutual respect for one another.  This exercise is part of the mechanism to particularly address what is a common cry among us; to define and promote inclusivity, to make communities feel represented, understood and respected in the national milieu.
We will find in this process much that we are doing well, and we would want to table these and inventory them among the best practices we would want to share with the rest of the world.
In other areas, we can use the help, particularly in developing infrastructure, systems and processes to respect and value what we have.
A most significant element of this convention is the importance and value it places on communities as central to the smooth running of state apparatus – a fact that sometimes get lost within our bureaurcracies and macro based policies and positioning.

(From left) Discussing safeguarding national heritage at the opening of the workshop on UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage are: facilitators Rieks Smeets, Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO Dr Kris Rampersad; Minister of Arts and Multicultralism Dr Lincoln Douglas, Ambassador of Japan Yoshimasa Tezuka, facilitator, Harriet Deacon, and culture specialist in the UNESCO Jamaica regional office, Hima Gurung. Photo courtesy Kris Rampersad

Call made to preserve local heritage
http://ctntworld.com/cnews2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5505:call-made-to-preserve-local-heritage&catid=137:c-news&Itemid=707
“We cannot allow our unique traditions to die out with the older generation.” That was the message delivered on Saturday by the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr. Lincoln Douglas, who said our cultural heritage must be preserved for future generations.
He spoke at a Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Kapok Hotel.
In keeping with the guidelines laid out in the UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, many local cultural practitioners participated in the workshop.
The Minister said the store of knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation, is fading and must be collected and documented.
Dr. Kris Rampersad, the Chairperson of the National Commission for UNESCO, said although this country is small in size and more vulnerable to external influences, we can become a strong counter-cultural force if we are secure in our cultural identity.
She said a greater focus on local content on television is needed to promote culture.
The Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism is the keeper of the flame and Minister Douglas said the “Remember When Institute” will serve as a storehouse of the collective cultural conscience for generations to come.

Inventorying of living heritage builds momentum in Trinidad and Tobago


20 June 2013 – Community practitioners, government officials and members of non-governmental organizations are mobilizing themselves for a national workshop on inventorying of intangible cultural heritage to be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 22 June to 1 July 2013.  
Organized by the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of the Arts & Multiculturalism of Trinidad and Tobago and the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, the workshop marks a significant step in safeguarding the living heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. It will focus on community participation in the identification and inventory of intangible cultural heritage, organization and management of information, and hands-on experience in preparing field work. The field activity will be reinforced by a pilot inventory activity to follow in proceeding months.
Funded by the Government of Japan, the workshop is part of a sub-regional project being implemented in Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago within the context of UNESCO’s global strategy on capacity building to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. It will be conducted by two experts from the UNESCO facilitators’ network: Harriet Deacon and Rieks Smeets.

Valuing Carnival The Emperor’s New Tools#2

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WHO WILL BE DEMOKRISSY’s 25000th READER? The Count Is On….
PLS RESPECT OUR COPYRIGHTS: You can contribute to these efforts by purchasing the books for friends, schools and institutions; or requesting our customised LiTTours or LiTTributes – Email lolleaes@gmail.com for details 

So masmen are enflamed. Again. Over prize money. Again. Are at loggerheads with the powers that be. Again.
It’s the continuing saga of bacchanalia.
Unless we weed out the endemic systems of dependency on which the celebrations were founded; and the governance system recast itself as mechanism that has the will to act; to revamp and develop adequate systems and structures and institutions that nurture and support artists and creators in ways that make them self-reliant, and that make the Carnival and other Festival Arts into the viable and sustainable creative industrial sector they can be, the recurring impasse over prizes, prize structure and prize money for pan, mas, calypso, soca, chutney, stickfighting, Hosay, Divali,  Phagwa, Pichakarie, and everything in between would remain the never-ending story.
Somewhere in there is also the recurringly invisible cultural policy in state of perpetual draft over the last 50 odd years of so – yes, 50 years – and each time it resurfaces merely replicates the dependency syndrome!
Is it any wonder that we cannot see our way, despite the rich amalgam of talent and creativity we exhibit in our daily lives. Shortsightedness continues to doggers.
Where are the well-thought-out budgets that look beyond just the annual seven day wonder to an Industry? That takes into full account the contributions and the value – social, economic, political and other value included – of the cultural sector so budgetary focus can match that contribution, not reflect tokenism.
Where is the vision for building proper supportive trade and commercial structures and mechanisms?
Where are the mechaniims and facilities and facilitation for those more meaningful forms of compensation as insurance, pensions, support grants, support training and services that would build and strengthen the sector so ever so regularly we would not have to hear of how another of our artists is close to the breadline?
And where is the will by those in the sector – policy and decision makers, the corporate sector, and practitioners alike, to make it happen?
Are we really serious. Who’s fooling whom?
These are some of the endemic systematic changes and modes for institutional reform in a culture of transformation that discussions on constitutional reform should also take into account – how to redress the kind of institutional malaise that are inhibiting progress and meaningful development and effectively restructure public institutions, their relationships with the state and the state’s relationships to the civic mechanisms that they ought to sustain.

LiTTscapes for LiTTribute to Antilles

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Trinidad and Tobago’s Dr Kris Rampersad, author of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago will team up with icons of Antigua and Barbuda to stage a literary tribute to the Antilles on Saturday (March 23, 2013) at the museum in St John’s, Antigua.
Dr Rampersad, whose book, LiTTscapes, was launched as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of Trinidad and Tobago last August, has undertaken a series of tributes called LiTTributes to highlight the contributions and value of the creative sectors of the Caribbean.
LiTTscapes has been described as a groundbreaking encyclopaedic yet coffee-table style compendium of the lifestyles, landscapes, architecture, cultures, festivals and institutions of the Caribbean and quintessential to the Caribbean diversification agenda as a means of promoting sustainable development through the creative sector in its presentation of  history, politics, cultures and lifestyles, by reviewers as head of the Guyana Prize for Literature and deputy vice chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Al Creighton; Poet Laureate of Port of Spain, Pearl Eintou Springer; former principal and pro vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Dr Bhoe Tewarie and former First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards, among others.
Said Creighton: “Easy to read, LiTTscapes is a work of art, a documentary, a travelogue, a critical work with visual and literary power. It is a quite thorough artistic concept, a portrait and biography of the nation of Trinidad and is attractively, neatly and effectively designed. It reflects a considerable volume of reading, ranging from the dawn of Caribbean literature (as early writings of Walter Raleigh, through to present including Nobel laureates Derek Walcott and Sir Vidia Naipaul). Whatever one says no one book can do, this one almost does.” 
Rampersad explained:  “The literary tributes, called LiTTributes, celebrate the creative synergies between fiction, the built and natural landscapes and the creative energies of writers, musicians, dramatists, artists, architects and other creators.” She noted that the launch of LiTTscapes was followed by the LiTTribute to the Republic in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2012 and LiTTribute II – LiTTurgy to the Mainland in Guyana in February 2013.
“The Antiguan event is being called LiTTribute to the Antilles and will include presentations by Rampersad and Antiguan writers and performers, including writers as Joy Lawrence, Joanne Hillhouse and Floree Williams with support from the Historical and Archaeological Society of Antigua and Barbuda which operates the museum, and Best of Books, Antigua. It will feature readings and performances inspired by LiTTscapes, which represents some 100 works of some 60 writers, including the Caribbean Nobel laureates for literature, Derek Walcott and Sir Vidia Naipaul.”
She said: “LiTTributes are meant to make both the creators and our communities aware and heighten appreciation of how we may work in tandem for the benefit of our countries and our region. I am indeed humbled and buoyed at the enthusiasm being showed throughout the region and indeed the diaspora for these as already I also have interests expressed for similar LiTTributes in North American and Europe from where a considerable number of our fiction writers have functioned.
 “LiTTscapes is a celebration of ourselves – small islands whose creative energies have generated enormous waves across the globe, as this LiTTribute to the Antilles will endorse. Antigua has given us writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Joanne Hillhouse.  Derek Walcott titled his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, The Antilles – Fragments of Epic Memory. This event is a celebration of that epic Antilles, not as fragments, but for the wholeness of our aesthetics,” said Rampersad.    
Rampersad said along similar lines of the LiTTscapes celebrations, the Antigua/Barbuda event will feature the Caribbean architectural alongside literary, visual and performance heritage. Its staging at the museum building will recognise Antigua’s oldest heritage building which is the former site of an indigeneous marketplace. Previous events were staged at the historic Moray House in Guyana, Knowsley Building in Port of Spain and White Hall, one of Port of Spain’s Magnificent Seven edifices.
For details and information, reviews, interviews email lolleaves@gmail.comor visit kris-rampersad.blogspot.com.
In Brief:
LiTTscapes: Key Features
Ø  Full colour, easy reading, coffee table-style
Ø  More than 500 photographs of Trinidad and Tobago
Ø  Represents some 100 works by more than 60 writers
Ø  Captures intimate real life and fictional details of island life
Ø  Details exciting literary moments, literary heritage walks & tours
Ø  Essential companion on T&T for tourists, students, policy makers, academics, lay readers
Ø  Totally local effort to stimulate local creative industries
Ø  Encourage literacy and creative activity
See: LiTTscapes album on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kris.rampersad1
    About the Author – Kris Rampersad
For more than two decades Dr Kris Rampersad has been actively involved in analysing, assessing, critiquing and defining the development agenda for Caribbean societies.
She is a journalist and educator in Caribbean literature, culture and heritage.