When I was a boy my parents would take my siblings and me
on Carnival days to Cunapo, which was the name commonly used
for Sangre Grande. We went to see mas.
We lived in what has recently been described by a journalist
in a daily newspaper as Sangre Chiquito, a nice place
to be. That was in the thirties. It was a family day
out for enjoyment and clean fun.
We had no huge bands with expensive costumes. There was the
ole mas, the jab jab, the stickmen, the small bands going
up and down the one-street town.
We did not even have sno-cones. We had snowball where each
order was filled by the vendor shaving his block of ice and
crowning it with delicious syrup.
Those were the ole time days when, if a jab molassi
approached, from the time the tin pan beat was heard, the
head of the family had a penny or two ready to put in the
collectors hand so the obscene wining would not be prolonged
in the presence of the females in the family.
All the masqueraders were fully garbed in colourful costumesexcept
for the repugnant jab molassi. Today he has become art and
culture, evidence of our descent into the pit!
In those days young lovers met in secret. Young people respected
their elders. Girls and women were shy and had a sense of
modesty and propriety. No female would dare dress like a tart
or walk half-naked in public.
I love Nappy Mayers song Bring Back the Ole Time Days.
What nostalgic memories he evokes!
In the fifties I went to England. I was shocked to see young
couples kissing in public, on the pavements in the parks,
on public transport. I saw females wearing trousers and wondered
at the biblical injunctions which forbade such things. As
colonial masters they had come to lay down the standard of
behaviour for us colonials. I was aghast.
Then in the sixties at Hyde Park where the Flower Peoplethe
young, the carefree, the social rebelsheld a concert.
And there was a lovely young girl walking through the crowd
stark naked! It was the time of social revolution when the
young were discarding the norms and values set by the older
But they still retained some values. The Profumo scandal showed
that some acts of indiscretion and immorality would not be
overlooked. If you lied to Parliamentout you went. We,
in this so-called land of calypso, have cultivated all the
bad habits from the white countries and very little,
if any, of their virtues.
We are rapidly losing paradise. In the days of yore when men
worked for 35 cents a day, getting two or three days work
a week in the cocoa plantation in Sangre Chiquito, and women
25 cents a day if they were lucky to get a day or two a week
of work, there was morality and dignity, even among the poorest
of the poor. Women prized their femininity.
If the labourers who lived in the estate barracks or in chattel
houses saw two dogs joined together in copulation in the road
or in any place, they would go to the standpipe, fill a bucket
of water and throw it on he dogs, causing them to separate,
before the eyes of children could behold such a sight! Gone
are those days of decency! Then we had a sense of shame.
The more affluent the members of society have become the more
educated they claim to be, the more they have
ascended the social and political ladderthe more shameless
their vulgarity, their lewdness, the obscenity of their behaviour
displayed on Carnival days! They feel they must descend into
the gutter to be with it. They join their peers!
The television, an accommodating partner in this descent into
the gutter, beams into every home scenes where couples lie
on the stage dressed in the skimpiest costume
of beads, and simulate the sex act.
Others exhibit the new fad of pretending to have anal sex,
sometimes a line of them in an apparent orgy. Somebody should
throw a bucket of water on them. Some of the sweating women
raise their leg in the air and whirl around. To cool down?
Small wonder that when masqueraders are sexually aroused in
this manner, what with the flow of alcohol and the sound of
loud music, there is an explosion of pregnancies and births
post-Carnival. How many acts of adultery take place? In that
moment of madness, how many become infected with Aids? At
what cost to our country and our health services?
We are descending lower and lower into the vortex of this
maelstrom of decadence and sin because we are, as Naipaul
contemptuously called us, mimic men. We blindly follow what
we think are 2020 white nations, we move with the crowd,
we want to be with it, we suffer from a sense
of inferiority complex.
And those who should be the shepherds guiding the flock? They
will have to give a serious account of their stewardship on
the day of their judgment! They have remained dumb when they
should have spoken out to halt the growing obscenity which
we call Carnival today.
Lest they lose some of their flock to the marauding newcomers
of American cults, they have remained silent. Going to church
on Ash Wednesday will not wash away our sins.
We are making the people of Sodom and Gomorrah look like saints.
Perhaps the Prime Minister will join the mighty host of prayerful
penitents. And we will sing See the mighty host advancing.
May God save our nation.
Balgobin Ramdeen is a former MP