Wednesday, January 16, 2008

South making mas for C2K8

The models come together for a grand finale at the launch of Lionel Jagessar & Associates’ Dakota People.

By Innis Francis

CARNIVAL celebrations in south Trinidad has taken on a new spirit for C2K8. Apart from the fact that the national Panorama finals return to Skinner Park this year, and the anticipation of the King and Queen of The Bands semi-finals is in tow, special interest groups of the festival seem to be invigorated, committed to making it the best Carnival celebration in years.

With all the masquerade bands of the south in high gear, south is also lending support to the success of the mas in north Trinidad and other areas.

South’s son of the soil Kirby Mohammed feels that it is a shame that south’s Carnival over the years still has not received the patronage and participation it deserves.

Mohammed said that south has a wealth of talented people, but this talent has not been developed like that in the capital, Port-of-Spain.

Mohammed, who has produced mas with different bands for the past 10 years, co-operated for the second time with Trini Revellers of Woodbrook to produce two all-inclusive sections—El Dia De Los Muertos and Nolkfored De Papantla. Both sections depict the people of Nolkfored, Mexico.

Trini Revellers’ presentation for C2K8—Que Viva Mexico—is led by David Cameron and will consist of 21 sections.

Mohammed said: “My idea for the sections came when the band leader explained the concept they had for Carnival.

“Que Viva Mexico, basically highlights the various attractions that make Mexico one of the more diverse cultural regions of the world.

“I realised they had covered all areas except this group of people, so I did my research and realised that I could show a portrayal of the day of the dead and their lives and the celebration of the lives passed.”

Mohammed continued: “It is a shame though, that south (Carnival) has not developed as it could be. However, being able to work with Trini Revellers, the band which won Band of the Year on many occasions, is an accomplishment.

“It shows that we as southerners can get to showcase our talents on the international level, and that is the level of exposure T&T gets out of Port-of-Spain.”

Using basic cotton, glass beads, beaded applique, feathers and coins, Mohammed said they are catering for 150 persons in each section, for manageability and for the comfort of the revellers.

Mohammed said that persons can register for the band online, or at the mas camp on Gallus Street, Woodbrook; or, for Mohammed’s sections El Dia De Los Muertos and Nolkfored De Papantla, at De Nu Pub (The Mas Camp) on French Street, Woodbrook.

Dakota People, the largest of the remaining tribes from North America, will be celebrated for C2K8 by south mas icon Lionel Jagessar and Associates. The portrayal of the native tribe is also symbolic in many ways to the Jagessar family, who launched their presentation last month at their mas camp, located on the corner of Sutton and Gransaul Street, San Fernando.

The eight sections that form the presentation incorporates a variety of designs and colours of the native American Indian traditional attire. Over the years, the Jagessars have built a name for themselves in the cultural arena. For the past 15 years in south, they have participated in the Fancy Indian category, placing first almost every year. Before the category was converted to Fancy Indian, the Jagessar’s portrayed authentic Indian and held the title for 13 consecutive years.

"This year we plan to compete again with the band Dakota People, but in Trini style," Lionel explained.

He said: "Our presentation will feature the chiefs and their squaws (women) and dancers of the tribe.

"There is also a section by my wife, the peace dancers, which shows the religious side of the band."

Lionel is no stranger to Carnival arts as he’s been playing mas since he was nine-years-old.

With experience on his side, Lionel and his wife, Rosemarie, have been producing the band as a team for the past 29 years in San Fernando.

Rosemarie has played mas for three decades and has been the band’s queen for 26 years, winning the Queen of Carnival (South) title on three occasions.

The couple's son, Lionel Jr won the King of Carnival title this year in south, portraying Wa Chink Sapa Native Healer, from his father’s presentation titled A Tribal Council. In the Band of the Year race, A Tribal Council was adjudged third.

The mother and son were also finalists in the National King and Queen competitions last year.
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