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NOW THE CARNIVAL OVER

The first documented mention of the word carnevale is 1092 during the Dogate of Vitale Falier of the Venetian Empire. The most likely etymology of the word carnevale may be derived from the Latin carne + vale meaning ‘farewell to meat’. Carnevale was associated with festivities in the Republic of Venice in the days preceding Lent. During Lent Roman Catholics were expected to “stay away” from meat and dairy products and use the forty days for reflection and fasting. It meant that naturally the days preceding the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday) would be full of festivities culminating on Shrove or “Fat” Tuesday. The Italian carnivals become very famous and even spread to other Europeans Countries.

Columbus’ voyages to the West Indies and the subsequent occupation of the islands by Europeans naturally brought with them European customs and traditions, including carnevale.

The estimates vary but anywhere from 6 million to 20 million freed Africans were uprooted from their lives and deposited into lives of slavery in the European-occupied West Indies. They brought with them their practices and customs. The abolition of slavery and the slave trade give rise to a milder form of slavery, indentured workers. These workers came from Europe, Africa, Southern China and India. They too brought with them practices and customs.

The Carnival we celebrate today is a fortunate confluence of hundreds of years of customs, traditions and cultural evolution, which allows us to celebrate our ethnic diversity. Apart from that very crucial recognition of who we are as a people, our present-day Carnival festivities have become big-business, an economic bonanza in months that would otherwise not provide a financial windfall.

It is against this background and historic knowledge that I witnessed the closing hours of Carnival 2012 with Black Wizard and was afforded the opportunity to have a discussion about ‘When the Carnival Over’.

It is generally agreed by Wizard and many others in the know that the 2012 Carnival was an administrative failure, culturally it was misery personified for many carnival enthusiast and resounding changes, yet again are warranted.

The Former Senator’s grandiose plans for Culture and Carnival was dealt are final blow with the culmination of Spice Mas 2012. He has failed gloriously with his ill-advised festivals and the amalgamation of individuals on the SMC’s Board proved to be the oddest and least knowledgeable group to ever oversee the planning and subsequent execution of a Carnival season.

The afore-mentioned juncture of cultural and ethnic diversity, they preservation and the economic factors must be guarded by passionate, intelligent people with foresight, not unlike those before us who moved Carnival from the month of May to August.

Petty egotistical squabbles over fetes, lack of respect for cultural practitioners, both past and present, inadequate accounting of public funds are all grounds for the swift and immediate removal of not only the SMC Board Members, but the disbanding of said SMC, since one can be certain the combination of the letters SMC in that particular order will conjure up dark and bitter memories for many, for years to come.

However, before the SMC is disbanded (no resignations should be accepted just yet) they should, as with any Statutory Body and more so as an extension of a Government that has touted accountability and transparency, be made to provide a full report inclusive of an in depth financial statement.

It is my conservative guess that the debt, not the entire cost, just the debt of Spice Mas 2012 will exceed 2 million dollars. Grenadians will have to foot that bill and must know how it was accumulated before any responsibility for Carnival is handed over to other individuals and or entities.

While the battle for fete-supremacy on Carnival Saturday raged-on the SMC lost sight of the need to deliver a Carnival product to Grenada and to market said product. Shows were embarrassingly tardy and once under way were laborious, without much entertainment value. Artistes were treated with scant regard, a trait of Carnivals past many of us have worked assiduously to eradicate. While the enthusiasm for Carnival seemed to have increase the ability to deliver even the basic elements of Spice Mas 2012, for one reason or the other proved to be an unachievable task of Herculean proportions.

The Senator is already history, Mr. Chairman you and your cohorts, including the Lady Attorney who, throughout the season found new and creative ways to embarrass her profession, please do the honorable things. Acknowledge you were way in over your ego-inflated heads, account and then disappear into cultural oblivion to re-appear next carnival in the only role you can effectively play in Carnival that of a Jab Jab.

As the masqueraders took their last lap jump-up on Port Highway heading to the Carenage, Black Wizard lamented the fact that the planning for the 2012 Calypso season and subsequent stages of competition were the worse he had experienced. He expressed the desire that now the Carnival is over 2012 should serve as a lesson for present and future Governments to plan, not just for the next season but have the foresight to set attainable goals for years ahead and measure the success of each Carnival season by the improvements made, based on those plans.

Since the SMC did not have the decency to do it, spare me a few lines to acknowledge the contribution Anthony “Jericho” Greenidge made to Carnival over the years. The drop in the quality of MCing at this year’s shows is testimony to the excellence of the man.

Two other major Carnival and Cultural icons recently past; Michael “Bokina” Darbeau,  panman, purveyor of the traditional aspects of our mas and in recent times producer of a Children’s Band. Also “Archie” noted for his fanatical “Wild Indian” portrayals. Their memories will live on through their efforts, which were resplendent enough to leave legacies. May their souls Rest in Peace.

Finally, let me acknowledge those who I thought were outstanding in an otherwise mediocre season.

Grand Roy Pan Angels placed 4th in this year’s Panorama an astounding accomplishment for a small, unsponsored band. Hats off to Denver and the others, while the challenges continue to be many this achievement should provide some fuel to keep the flames of desire burning.

Young Nathan Johnson your ascension up the ladder of Calypso success continued in 2012. The Junior Calypso title and a place in the Melody Papittette Calypso Semifinal are but mere stepping stones for what promises to be an outstanding career as a performer.

Boyzie, one word. Finally! There is no questioning your talent; your breakthrough year should be the platform to make yours a perennial, household name. Your captured the hearts and allegiance of the People and as Ajamu once said in song, ‘The People Know…’.

Commancheros that was Mas! For those who doubt whether Grenada can produce quality fancy mas, doubt no more. All the elements were there; attractive costumes, a strong marketing campaign, steelband music and most certainly the spirit of Carnival.

To all the winners of Carnival; those pre-determined and those who won on merit, history will record your accomplishments in 2012, but more importantly, now that the Carnival over, the people will remember.

Dexter Mitchell

             

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