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TGI Carnival F
Saturday, 18 February, 2023 Filed in: TGIF
CARNIVAL FRIDAY in the Land of Calypso (even if watered down to modern empty soca) and Y’Boy twisting and turning in he bed like a British prime minister in he policies. Y’Boy been conflicted ‘bout the national festival for so long now, he’s feel like a double-agent sometimes.
Y’Boy done know that the onliest thing that sure in life is change and Y’Boy does welcome it. After reading a persuasive scholarly article in Harper’s magazine, Y’Boy did even accept the they/them pronouns he did war against on grammatical grounds for years. Y’Boy never want to be one of them older tesses in Phase II panyard in the 80s, who steady muttering to one another and wishing the 60s could come back and it wouldn’t have no rift in Starlift.
But what to say about this modern Conny-voll, whereby the onliest thing that ent get completely mash up yet is pan. Y’Boy pores raise when he watch the video of Renegades’ performance of The Black Man Feeling to Party ‘til he wanted to cry and all, just the sheer awe-full beauty of the thing! How that must have sounded on the Savannah Track!
What a spell Black Stalin cast with that song! Y’Boy, as a youth in the earlies, used to raise he own eyebrow anytime he hear a black Trinidadian cuss they own essence: “I might be black, but I ent stupid!” This willing self-denigration was a mystery to Y’Boy. (A lighter complexion in manifestly unfair societies could spare unthinking people plenty angst.) Y’Boy, in ignorance that stifled empathy, did even sneer at Trini Africans who “went overboard” on the Afrocentrism. Y’Boy did grow, eventually, to understand, intellectually, the problem – but is Stalin whey devise the solution in one chorus of one mighty song.
That year, in Panorama, in fete, on the road, Y’Boy watch Trinis of every shade – blue-eyed white boys from Bayshore, fair-skinned Brahmins from Chaguanas, copper-coloured red boys and pale Chinese from Cascade – side-by-side, joyously declaring, “Tonight the black man feeling to party!” What a thing, what a thing, to get the white or Indian West Indian to love his blackness; perhaps even more so the black one!
Stalin gi’ we that.
Which mean he didn’t have to give we anything else.
And even when, later, the chorus sometimes changed specifically to match the singer particularly –Tonight the white man/ Indian/ red man/ dougla/ hakwai feeling to party – it didn’t reduce the force or impact of Stalin’s subtle but powerful lesson in positive negritude.
No matter who try what, that genie can never go back into that bottle.
That one song did more for African liberation and all-encompassing humanity in the Caribbean than every Black Studies course in every university in the West Indies put together.
But Renegades’ magnificent rendition only emphasise the chasm between songs like that and the, tata churned out by computers like mincemeat from third rate abattoirs today.
Is not to say that no new songs are good, even great – the 2017 Road March, the Ultimate Rejects’ Full Extreme leaps to mind – but the thinnest, poorest quality milk will have a skim of cream at the top.
And, apart from the odd breathtaking Carnival King or Queen, what anybody could say about the mas itself today that Minshall didn’t say more clearly in his three devastating words years ago: Las Vegas showgirls.
Y’Boy know change must come to everything, unless the thing itself is dead (and even then it will rot); but when Trinidad Carnival comes to Port of Spain in a cardboard shoebox from China, that is not a sea change but a never see come for see change.
Is Carnival Friday and you can feel the electricity bristling in the air. Carnival come like sex for people under age 40: even bad sex is better than no sex and even a vacuous Carnival is better than no Carnival.
But that doesn’t make the first Carnival since covid the “Mother of all Carnivals.”
Without seeing Ash Wednesday’s pictures of them in their elaborate makeup and perfect hairstyles, holding their champagne bottles aloft on Monday and Tuesday, Y’Boy done know that Carnival revellers will be in their very Heaven in the next few days.
But Y’Boy done know that, farther down the road that make to walk this Carnival way, there will surely be Hell to pay.
BC Pires is being reported to the House Un-Trinidadian Affairs Committee. Email your charges of treason to him at bc@BCPires.com