Wednesday 28th February, 2007

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Carnival 2K7 in review

  • Larry Achong would have given Miss Bhola the crown.
  • The judges should be made to account for their decisions.
  • How did Cro Cro end up in the finals?

The good

I am inclined to agree with the Commissioner of Police that this year’s Carnival celebrations were safer than in previous years in the context of violent acts by the criminal elements.

Within recent years the media have been inundated with reports of murders, stabbings and other violent behaviour perpetuated against masqueraders, revellers and spectators whose only crime was taking in the Greatest Show on Earth.

Thank God this year, despite what the critics might say, Commissioner Paul’s men and women did an excellent job in containing the nefarious activities of the criminals whose only credo is to inflict the worst kind of physical and mental punishment on hapless citizens.

I haven’t forgotten the good work performed by the soldiers whose presence also contributed to keeping the bad boys—and girls—at bay.

That is the kind of work I and the rest of the law-abiding community would like to see—and deserve—all year round.

Come on, Mr Paul, if you could do such a wonderful job two days of the year and with such commendable results, you can do it the rest of the year. Start cracking the whip, sir!

My other positive feature of this Carnival was the almost surreptitious return of what decent people would consider authentic mas, which went out the window some years ago for the bikini-type “costumes.”

This development was so dramatic that it won for Brian MacFarlane the coveted Band of the Year title with his marvelous presentation of India—The Story of Boyie.

I just could not believe my eyes. Seeing for the first time in many years women—and men—portraying enchanting characters without half their bodies exposed was a delightful sight.

And didn’t they look gorgeous! Especially those dancing the burokeets. In fact the entire band was so resplendent it reminded me of my appeal last year to the bandleaders to go back to the traditional mas’ and forget those women who feel that it is not Carnival if they are not allowed to gyrate up and down the place half naked.

The bad

An unfortunate development which began some years ago was continued this year: the almost total lack of mas after 6 pm on Carnival Monday.

Downtown Port-of-Spain and St James were like ghost towns with not a single mas band or music band in sight. Something must be done to entice masqueraders to stay on the streets at least up to midnight Monday.

There are many other “bad things” about this year’s mas but space does not permit me to go further.

The ugly

The most distasteful aspect of this year’s celebrations was the judging of the Calypso Monarch competition.

Like many other people, I really thought that the days when judges could so blatantly select winners who are not deserving of their “win” were long gone.

But I was rudely jolted on the night of Dimanche Gras when the judges—who are they?—delivered a fatal blow to the calypso art form.

How could they in their right senses select Cro Cro as the Calypso Monarch?

I am not talking about the so far unsubstantiated charge levelled by three calypsonians about Cro Cro’s number being an old one. That is not my beef.

My contention, and I am sure it is also that of the silent majority, is how come he whipped Shadow and newcomer to the “Big Yard” Maria Bhola?

In fact, the question that should be asked even though it is purely academic is: how come he even made it to the finals?

Shadow and Bhola far out-performed Cro Cro in three categories—presentation, lyrics and melody.

Cro Cro delivered a very bland topic with very bland lyrics, unlike the other two, who both delivered unforgettable performances.

I am really feeling it for Miss Bhola, who I believe got the unkindest cut. Her performance was truly that of a seasoned performer even though it was her very first outing with the big guns in calypsodom.

One would have never guessed that it was her debut in the “Big Yard,” so exhilarating and professional was her performance on Sunday night.

I do hope that Miss Bhola, who did her own make-up and costuming, does not allow that piece of obvious injustice to shake her confidence in her ability and potential.

That was one of the most memorable performances ever seen at a Dimanche Gras and to be treated that way by people you put trust is indeed a bitter pill to swallow.

Knowing Larry Achong as I do, I am sure he too enjoyed the parody even though the joke was on him. He would have given her the crown.

Because of the grave injustice meted out to Shadow and Bhola, it is time that judges be made to account for their decisions.

They should be made to release the scoresheets as a matter of course. And if only out fairness to those they are adjudicating on, the judges should do like their counterparts in the Music Festival and point out the weaknesses of the bards so that they could take corrective measures.

In the meantime, Miss Bhola, be strong and remember: “We love you!”

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