Carnival in Trinidad, Tobago, or anywhere else, for that matter, has always had an affinity for the Ole Mas and ole mess.
The upcoming celebrations over in Tobago are unfortunately shaping up to have a propensity for both.
What a shame it is that there’s perhaps a clear and imminent danger that this buffet of opportunities is likely to go sour.
Understandably, there’s the pride of getting something done on one’s own. This is a wonderful elixir. But like all spirit drinks, there are the sips that can stimulate your appetite or embolden you to ask a lady to dance, but too many drinks can trick you into overloading your plate, or trip you to fall on the dance-floor while the lady waltzes off laughing.
Tobago has the right, indeed deserves the leeway and respect, to handle its own Carnival affairs.
But would it really be deprivational if Tobago were to tap into the institutional know-how and the painfully acquired experience of Carnivalistas in Trinidad?
Even the best doctor still has to ask the patient where it hurts before administering medicine.
Let’s admit that there are challenges in any event, and that ‘event’ challenges are uniquely complex in the dynamics of Carnival. Then why not imagine the benefits in collaborating, for instance, to determine Band routes and Band control systems for parading on the streets of Scarborough; to pin down the fiscal metrics of ticket sales and financial accountability (unwatched gate-attendants or clever scalpers can clean your headpiece); to placate feisty vendors with their adorable sense of entitlement to accommodation ‘anywhere people passing’; to protect against the sanitation and environmental threats in this age of pandemics; to prepare for the nightmare of low police presence in these times when one gunshot can cause a stampede; to pick your way through the minefield that stretches from competition judging and to competitors’ dissatisfaction (every loser is an angry absolutely convinced winner!).
Some of us have found out the hard way that Carnival invented Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And when wrong occurs, wrongdoers will chip down the road saying: Is Kahneeval! While the wrongdoers will call in their lawyers by Ash Wednesday morning.
True, Tobago festival organisers have experience, but their Trinidad siblings have battle-scars, lots of them five generations old.
Tobagonians discussing Carnivalistics with Trinidadians would be no more a denial of Tobagonian maturity and independence than for one sibling to ask another to check the gas gauge…rather than risk running out empty on the road.
Surely there can be mutually respectful consultations with NCC personae in Winston Peters, Colin Lucas, Clarence Moe, Sigler Jack, et al; or generous conversations with past NCC chair-leaders Kenny De Silva, Keston Nancoo, Allison Demas, Al Roberts, Carlos John; masmakers Peter Minshall, Brian McFarlane, Ainsworth Mohammed, San Fernando Kalicharans, Justin Sobion, Peter Samuel, Dean Ackin, Derek Lewis, et al; countless calypsonian managers and steelband leaders; even with a Tobago-ensconced former NCC board member Alison Sardinha (the esteemed designer of the Sesame Street Big Bird costume!).
And here’s a money-saving plus: discussions can take place remotely, without having to paying for travel and accommodation.
Pride is a fine stimulant for growing tall…but somebody has to point out where the ceiling is so you don’t bounce yuh head.
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