Carnival was different this year new venues for Dimanche
Gras and Panorama, the one-song rule and maximum security.
The noticeable the gap between the various social classes
widened this year with VVIP sections, ultra-inclusive fetes
and expensive costumes.
We partied under the watchful eyes of heavily armed soldiers
and police officers. The greatest show on earth was relatively
safe given the magnitude of the event and the size of the
crowds. A tough, no-nonsense attitude with zero tolerance
for louts and violence kept crime statistics down to a minimum.
CoP Trevor Paul and his team deserve full marks on this score.
What impressed me the most was the fact that the heightened
security presence was not reserved for Port-of-Spain alone.
I was at the popular Carnival Monday night Ole Mas celebrations
in Gasparillo and witnessed the same professional show of
force and expert crowd control.
At Panorama finals in South, Skinner Park came alive to the
sweet sound of pan. The disappointing absence of a band from
San Fernando did not dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands
of Panorama fanatics who made full use of the fact that pan
was playing in we own backyard.
To all the grumpy grumblers from North who refused to venture
South to attend, I say tough luck! Trinidad doesnt
end at Grand Bazaar.
Yes, the crowd was significantly smaller. But its about
time people realise that the distance from North to South
is the same as it is from South to North. Southerners have
been happily travelling to the Savannah for years without
so much as a beep.
The affable Minister Joan Yuille-Williams courageously made
some historic changes to Carnival. I applaud the decision
to move Panorama finals to Skinner Park. The bands moved quickly
and the standard of the production was high. The smaller crowd
brought the advantage of extra elbow room for
The San Fernando City Corporation proved it was more than
equal to the task and the Mayor should be congratulated for
a job well done.
On a critical note, the two huge screens that formed the backdrop
were a waste of good money as patrons could not see the live
images because the overhead stage lighting was too bright.
These screens should have been erected elsewhere.
I am yet to make up my mind about the most radical of all
the differences to this years CarnivalJean Pierre
Complex and the one song rule.
The shorter Dimanche Gras was welcome but people missed the
second song, which was usually designed to ease the
Jean Pierre as a venue was a mediocre choice, I missed the
intimacy and rapport of the calypsonian managing his presence
on the big stage, taking his performance to all sections of
the crowd on both sides. They seemed too far away, on a tiny
Acoustically, the venue affected the quality of the performances
as the words seem to merge as they travelled upwards to where
I was seated.
Cro Cro was a clear crowd favourite and delivered a commanding
performance of his now controversial song. He scored full
marks for humour and the appropriate use of a simple but effective
cast that kept bringing various items (including an old bicycle!)
to take for friends and relatives.
I was outraged however to read about the shabby manner in
which artistes were treated. Calypso Roses outburst
about the absence of toilets facilities and changing rooms
for women is a serious indictment against the organisers.
This is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. Without the
performers, there is no show and they deserve to be treated
While a few calypsoes focused on the Government, the sting
was not there. Smelters apart, there was a lot to sing about
but that wasnt to be.
The independence of the artform has been compromised and Tuco
would do well to make all calypsonians listen to the unrecorded
Cepep Gang sung by semi-finalist Wendy Garrick who won the
prize for Best Social Commentary. This calypso is an apt summary
of the debilitating impact political biases have had on the
Machel proved that timing is everything. His late release
of Jumbie paid maximum dividends as it stole the Road March
from behind. My favourite was, and remains, Crazys Cold
The one thing that I really missed this year was the healing
power and influence of David Rudders songs. For many,
his music is virtually transcendental and this will be remembered
as a Rudderless Carnival.