Tuesday, April 03, 2007

ABOLITION AND THE DEATH OF CARNIVAL






Cover of "Hip Hop Is Dead"Verse 3] Everybody sound the same, commercialize the game Reminiscin' when it wasn't all business If it got where it started So we all gather here for the dearly departed Hip hopper since a toddler One homeboy became a man then a mobster If the guys let me get my last swig of Vodka R.I.P., we'll donate your lungs to a rasta Went from turntables to mp3s From "Beat Street" to commercials on Mickey D's From gold cables to Jacobs From plain facials to Botox and face lifts I'm lookin' over my shoulder It's about eighty niggaz from my hood that showed up And they came to show love Sold out concert and the doors are closed shutLyrics: Nas - Hip Hop Is Dead [Artist Lyrics]Album: hip hop is dead.#

AS wrote these lines because he believes that the original roots of hip hop is dead, while the art form dominates the music industry the pureness of it has been erased by corporate vampires pimping hip hop for all its worth , I believe the very same thing can be said for Trinidad’s Carnival , not just MAS but the whole festival.

Hip hop like calypso and other elements of carnival was borne out of the ghettoes of a once plantation society, a black society from whose bowels all popular culture comes, and like Hip Hop, Carnival has too fallen prey to culture vultures pimpin out “we thing” like a crack head on the streets of P.O.S till she dead.

Why and how I could say this ?
How could I come to such conclusion ?

BECAUSE ON THE 25TH OF MARCH 1807."the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was passed in the House of Lords by 41 votes to 20. In the House of Commons it was carried by 114 to 15 and it become law."

This year marked 200 years since the Abolition of the slave trade an event that the English government and press if not the people have signified and celebrated on television and radio with documentaries, movies, reenactments , public debates , but no apologies.

Never the less they have recognized that slave trade happened, and England profited greatly from it, and after 300 years of dominating the trade, one day they decided that it was wrong and they (as a nation) lead by the “great humanitarian” William Wilberforce, brought the trans Atlantic Slave Trade to an end.

Now.

The story of abolition of the slave trade is a most significant event for the Caribbean, as a region, to Afro Caribbean’s as descendants of slaves, and Trinidadians because this event precedes Emancipation , and the birth of Trinidad Carnival. Now this year I did not go to Trinidad for carnival, but I kept my eyes on it , and as far as I could see, not one, especially the highly esteemed “large bands” paid any kind of tribute or any kind of recognition to this important historical event.


It seems that Trinidadians have some how conveniently forgotten the very African history from which their most celebrated carnival, the so called “greatest show on earth”, stepped forth from. Instead the designers and band leaders, guardians of the culture and the tradition that is MAS, have traded the very soul of our culture for the materialistic emptiness of the west, they have forgotten the rich value of a heritage that was handed to them through great struggle and sold the cultural soul for the very evil that enslaved the ancestors in the first place, COMMERCALISM.

Imagine just two hundred years ago England stopped transporting slaves to the Caribbean , 30 odd years later came Emancipation and less than 200 years after that a nation that’s Carnival is a direct result of these events does not recognize that such an event happened.

How is it that an entire national institution could forget its own conception?



“CAN YOU ACTUALLY IMAGINE OVERLOOKING THE END OF THE SLAVE TRADE THAT WAS ONLY 200 YEARS AGO TO STUDY THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. DO THESE BACKSIDES KNOW ABOUT THE REVOLUTIONS IN HAITI, JAMAICA,AND GUYANA THAT HAD THAT ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THE END OF THE SLAVE TRADE?”


When I say Carnival is dead, I hope you can see why.


Many of you have a belief that “carnival is freedom" and this is why we jump up for carnival, because ‘we free’, but how many of you know or even understand that Carnival is also resistance, resistance from slavery, through religious, and cultural retention, that survived the slave trade and slavery, the Canboulay riots, was resistance, the drum a symbol of resistance, that was banned by he colonial government.

The Tamboo bamboo that was born when the Drum was banned, and when the Tamboo bamboo was banned…..the Steelpan was born, RESISTANCE.


Resistance, this is the true Sprit of Carnival, FREEDOM IS AN END PROUDUCT. Carnival is then a celebration of freedom through resistance and rebellion, but it seems that now this generation’s middle class has taken over the Carnival, the culture of resistance has turned on itself or at least the middle class that has inherited it has turned on the lower class that created it.

Like Cancer exclusivity is eating the Carnival alive fete tickets sky rocket with VIP paying crazy money too the point that they cant see the stage fus dey cant mix with the masses, mas is so expensive the poor man and woman cant play in the big popular bands, and the band leaders have to import their costumes to make sure the lower classes cant get a cut out of the production process a process their people started.
(BUT CARNIVAL IS FREEDOM?)

The Trinidadian Diaspora and that of the wider Caribbean all know about conflict diamonds but don’t seem to understand or care that these bands and fetes are a conflict to a society in itself. Like George Orwell’s Animal Farm the Middle classes have risen up to become a new Plantocracy like the old masters excluding themselves and almost every aspect of the carnival at large, down to Jouvay bands have become a paradox as the original tradition of the masses hitting the streets as ONE covered in mud and oil, now have bands that are leaving from secret locations or staying away from the masses with their own planed routes covered in chocolate, I can only guess its because their members are like the pigs on animal farm “more equal than others” that this trend has begun.

And while this 21st Century neo-plantocracy divide the Carnival by race, class, body type, internet access, etc, etc, and bamboozle the ignorant masses with empty themes, nonsensical designs and humorous promises of protection from the other set of masses (like if all hell was to truly break out their guards could actually protect people) and more alcohol than they could possibly drink, but do pay for, the Carnival dies a slow death, without a continual creative contribution from the grass roots, that muddy pond from which “10,000 flowers bloom” with out a “Bolo” to stand up to the oppressors or a “Fish eye” to beat a pan, then a man, carnival would become as it is quickly becoming a creative Sahara, big and barren …………. CULTURALLY DEAD.
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