THE MARDI GRAS, THE CANBOULAY, & THE PERSISTENCE OF AFRICA

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The thing is this: West to Central Africa- from Guinea to Nigeria, to Ghana, to Congo, to Sudan- is the seat of masquerade culture on planet Earth. It is where masquerade exists in an infinity of forms in terms of types of costume, headpieces, and dances- but moreover, it is where ‘the living principle of masquerade as a way of life’ is most powerful and continues to persist. It has persisted in West/Central African people and their descendants in the diaspora in a way that has died out in other peoples for hundreds of years. West/Central Africans remember the immortal connection with the cosmic- with Spirit, with Ancestors, with sun, earth, water, sea, wind, and sky. It is what has made African music traditions the verb that drives ALL popular music on the planet. It has made dancing to Black drum-music the principle form of social leisure on the planet, and has made the Trinidad Carnival one of the most popular festivals in the world… Read the rest of this entry

THE ARGUMENT FOR TOTAL MAROONAGE

A paper delivered at the “RE-LAUNCH” OF CITIZENS’ INTERVENTION
on the TOPIC: “THE SECOND REPUBLIC- THE NEED FOR US TO RE-IMAGINE THE FUTURE IF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IS TO PROGRESS” by Rubadiri Victor, October 15th 2016.

“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
What happens to a dream deferred?
—Langston Hughes, “Harlem” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.

THE CROWN COLONY

In the 1800s “the British decided to impose Crown Colony Government in Trinidad in which a resident Legislative Council under the authority of a Governor, could advise the British Government about Trinidad affairs- but had no effective control over the island…” The Crown Colony form of government effectively centralised all power in the governor (the Prime Minister)- but moreover it neutered all power from all representative organs in the island. We normally say we have a Westminster form of government- we do not. We are a Crown Colony with some Westminster institutions. It was during this period, from the 1850s to the 1870s, that the colonial administration, both locally and in England, formed the view that Crown Colony rule in Trinidad was best. …  In 1889 the two islands were incorporated into a single crown colony. T&T would in fact be the most evolved form of the Crown Colony in the Empire.”

THE THREE SOCIETIES

Why do I begin with the fact that we are a Crown Colony when the question is Re-Imagining our Future? I begin with this fact because ‘Re-Imagining’ is the act of ‘Dreaming’ and I believe that the most important theory in analysing T&T is the Cuban theory of the 3 Societies. This is the same theory that Lloyd Best refined further into his thesis on Plantation Economics. I have pursued a different reading of the nature of The 3 Societies- and for me the most important component in societies is their relationship to the process of Dreaming.

There are 3 types of society in the New World: Read the rest of this entry

THERE IS NO TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, YET…

“How could he say that?!”: many would cry out! “We have a flag. An anthem. A coat of arms. Some watchwords…” Yes, this is true… But by now we all secretly know that a flag, anthem, coat of arms, and watchwords do not a nation make. We are increasingly aware of how little those do to hold a People together… “Yes”, someone else says, “but we have all these Festivals, these foods, these heroes and victories, all these hundreds of geniuses who have struggled and strived for ideals clustered around a sense of a place, and an idea called Trinidad & Tobago! Surely those things make us a nation!” Yes- possibly… But point me to any of those things now. Right now. At this moment. In your community? In your home? In any of your villages? In any of your major towns? In the nation’s capital?… Where is this Nation full of wonder that you speak of? Where is your evidence?!…

Is T&T then a nation that exists only in people’s memories? Okay. A virtual nation could be a modern phenomenon! But then, what of those without any memory of those thousands of sequins of history of which you speak- the 95% who have no iota of clue about this Band of the Year national legacy of wonder? Are they- like Donald Trump’s immigrants- to be excommunicated, tagged, and deported? Thrown out of de band? Where then is this nation of which you speak?…
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PRESS CONFERENCE: CULTURE, CRIME, DIVERSIFICATION & THE COMING RECESSION YEARS

FITUN and ACTT co-host press conference

FITUN and ACTT co-host press conference

Place: Communications Workers Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain
Date: Tuesday 20th March 2016
Time: 10.00am
Conveners: ACTT & FITUN
Present: Joseph Remy President FITUN; Rubadiri Victor President ACTT; Alette Williams National Dance Association/ACTT member; Ashton Cunningham Fire Services/FITUN member

The Artists’ Coalition is calling on the Honourable Prime Minister and the government of Trinidad and Tobago to utilise Culture and the Creative Industries: as the arrowhead industries to lead the Diversification thrust of the nation; as an instrument to deal with crime; and as the force to cushion the blow of the recession for working class communities in the next 3 years,

  • The Creative Industries are the second largest industries on planet Earth with earnings of $2.2 Trillion annually recorded since 2001 with a then growth rate of 5% (Hopkins 2001).
  • uk creativesThe UK just released their Creative Industry data for 2015 and recorded that they were now earning £230.4 million (TT $2.3 billion) a day (!) from that industry.
  • That industry’s growth rate of over 8% is many a percentage point over their traditional industries like energy and manufacturing.
  • ACTT believes that the local Creative Sector could raise its annual foreign exchange contributions to the economy from its current plateau of $1.5 billion to over $6 billion+ in 5 short years.

The Minister of Finance has said that the current recession will last until 2019. ACTT has crafted a 3 year plan to grow the local Creative Sector geometrically whilst mapping the entire process. ACTT sees the initiative rolling-out alongside a Buy Local/Economic Patriotism initiative it will be partnering with other stakeholders on. The Creative Industry initiatives are critical because the country has invested billions in subsidising Arts education through GATE and the Academy of the Performing Arts- and is now losing its best graduates to Brain Drain because it has invested nothing in facilitating an Industry to receive these graduates.  Read the rest of this entry

DESPERS, THE HILL & THE GREENS, & THE SOUL OF THIS PLACE

Place: North Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah.
Time: Panorama Semis 2016.

Despers were by far the best playing big band on the day. They did the Hill proud in a dark time. It was a finals type performance in sophistication and intensity. Mesmeric on a night when the small and medium size bands on the whole played better than the big bands who were mostly formulaic and dull. The band that for me sounded better than the rest- Angel Harps- did not even make it into the finals. That massive distance between myself and the culture judges and between our culture judges and the artistic truth seems to be widening….

Just some quick notes: The magical sight of Despers in the desolate Grey Friars lot on Frederick Street is a revelation that all Trinbagonians should witness. There is something RIGHT about it. You will feel a shock of recognition, and let me tell you what it is. Despers on Frederick Street represents one of the only representations of the ‘Indigenous’ on our main street in our capital city! And it feels good. Despers’ presence shows up just how much WE are not present in our public spaces and how much foreign content rules our imagination, civic life, and the things we consume. Despers in Grey Friars shows up how much we have alienated our phenomenal Legacy from the main stream of our life and how much we are ‘not about our Father’s business. It also intimates to me a vision of the power of the Creative Sector’s plan for the Grey Friar’s site. It is a vision we will have to battle the current owner who destroyed the Heritage buildings there for. The plans for the Grey Friar’s site is to have 2 buildings mirroring the Church and the Hall that were originally on the property. One building is going to be called ‘The Word’ and the other building ‘The Guild’.
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