An immediate rebutt was already on my lips: ‘Whey yuh chain?’ He would understand that I meant the paraphernalia folkloric lagahoos are reputed to drag in the afterlife, since he had now migrated to the other side. Picong was always part of our discourse.
That void is adequate breeding ground for vigilantes.
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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.
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The recent finds of skeletal remains and artefacts believed to be early century AD under the Red House Parliament Building in Port of Spain, Trinidad point to the need for a comprehensive archeological survey of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago’s prehistoric connections with the American mainland holds enormous potential for opening up a vast field on new research activity. The new university campus in South Trinidad ought to look at establishing an all-encompassing programme in heritage studies that incorporate research, scientific, conservation, restoration and curatorial study among other fields that would advance the knowledge and understanding of Trinidad and Tobago’s prehistory and multicultural heritage.
|Nicole Drayton Photo from Guardian Report.I have no copyright claims on this
This also has value to the region and the world. We have for too long paid only lip service to our multiculturalism. The find under the Red House of bones potentially dating to the beginning of this epoch points to the significant need for a proper survey and actions to secure and protect zones that are of significant historical and prehistoric importance.
Why, forty years later, as one of the richest countries in the region, must we be looking to other universities from which to draw expertise when by now we should have full-fledged – not only archeological, but also conservation, restoration and other related programmes that explore the significance of our heritage beyond the current focus on song and dance mode? While scholarly collaborations are important, certainly we could be more advanced, and a leader rather than a follower in these fields in which several other less-resourced Caribbean countries are significantly more advanced.