The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -


Ste­vaco Joseph

On Wed­nes­day evening July 22, Hot But­ton Is­sue’ s guest was 2015 ca­lypso monarch King Walleigh.

When host Ti­mothy Poleon asked the three time kaiso monarch whether ca­lypso is dy­ing, he did not hes­i­tate to re­spond can­didly: “They are try­ing to kill it, it aint dy­ing.” That was the an­swer I was also bawl­ing out at my TV screen.

Un­for­tu­nately our air­waves, our DJs play more ob­scene and filthy con­tent than they would play Lu­cian kaiso. Ra­dio sta­tions play our kaiso mostly dur­ing the sea­son, as if an endorsement that this is when it is most rel­e­vant. Like King Walleigh con­tended, this is a brain­washed men­tal­ity.

Our ca­lypso is a li­brary of our sto­ries, and our mu­si­cal sto­ry­tellers must be per­mit­ted av­enues to com­mune with their com­mu­ni­ties. The pref­er­ence for pro­mot­ing the for­eign and lo­cal mu­si­cal ex­cre­ment should never be given priv­i­lege over our qual­i­ta­tive cre­ative lo­cal pro­duc­tion. Af­ter­all, how do we ex­press ‘de true Saint Lu­cian spirit’? Hope­fully not merely by con­sum­ing Bounty Rum. It is far more sig­nif­i­cant to be hear­ing King Walleigh’s “In­voke de Lu­cian Spirit”, “Tjenn Kweyol Vi­van”, “Koud­men”, than Bounty Killer and the rest whose pur­pose is to pro­mote evil and de­mote na­tional pride and con­scious­ness.

In the in­tro­duc­tion to his book “Kaiso and So­ci­ety,” Hol­lis Ur­ban Lester Liver­pool (the great Chalk­dust), penned the words of Kelvin Pope - Mighty Duke: What is ca­lypso? It is a feel­ing which comes from deep within, A tale of joy or one of suf­fer­ing. It’s an ed­i­to­rial in song Of the life that we un­dergo, That and only that, I know Is true ca­lypso.

The ca­lyp­so­nian is rooted in our his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive, as Chalk­dust ob­served: “fol­low­ing the tracks of the chantwel.” There­fore it is not go­ing to be easy to kill them or it. We need an awak­en­ing in our media es­tab­lish­ment, to use the com­mu­nica­tive av­enues to give lu­cid ex­pres­sion to our­selves. Dr. Hil­liard made this poignant ob­ser­va­tion: “If there is a ma­jor ill­ness among African Amer­i­can [I want to say specif­i­cally Saint Lu­cian] peo­ple it is that we unceas­ingly honor and uti­lize our cul­ture less. All great na­tions and peo­ple do the op­po­site.” So those who plot ca­lypso’s demise and oth­ers who un­con­sciously par­tic­i­pate know that - “poul ka gwate tel­man, i touve zo man­man’y.”

Af­ter all these years ca­lypso or­ga­ni­za­tion and man­age­ment con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence chal­lenges. This year’s Ca­lypso fi­nal, amidst the ob­sta­cles, was a very good one. I wit­nessed ca­lyp­so­ni­ans in com­pet­i­tive mood, in­vest­ing their cre­ativ­ity and energy to sat­isfy the au­di­ence. When Q-Pid opened with “Crim­i­nal Vic­tim” I heard the chit chat: “and dey say de ca­lypso aint ready.” Ti Carro didn’t make it any eas­ier for the non-be­liev­ers. “Kwapo” - wow, I like! The theatre was alive. Some will prop­a­gate that things could have been bet­ter - that’s true - but this ef­fort must be ap­plauded in the con­text of the strug­gle to pre­serve our cul­tural ex­pres­sion.

Ev­ery time a gov­ern­ment re­con­sti­tutes min­istries it re­veals a par­tic­u­lar in­cli­na­tion and di­rec­tion of the ad­min­is­tra­tion. The Saint Lu­cia Labour Party demon­strated that through the cre­ation of the Cre­ative In­dus­tries wing of the Min­istry some shift in fo­cus was manda­tory. It is rel­e­vant for this in­fra­struc­ture to work to­wards putting the best pos­si­ble frame­work to help avoid ca­lypso seem­ing a peren­nial ail­ment. We must in­vest the time and re­sources to set the best con­di­tions for ca­lypso’s con­tin­ued growth and de­vel­op­ment. I think it is partly this lack of thrust and com­men­su­rate un­der­tak­ings that have af­fected this bril­liant ob­ser­va­tion in Minelle’s ren­di­tion: “In dis coun­try, What you see is not what you see/You cyan trust de best in so­ci­ety, cause ev­ery­body fool­ing ev­ery­body.”

I would like to think that the cre­ation of the Min­istry of Cre­ative In­dus­tries is not another gim­mick but a gen­uine par­a­digm shift to el­e­vate our cre­ative and cul­tural en­gage­ments to re­spectable and pro­gres­sive al­ti­tude wor­thy of our Saint Lu­cian spirit.

We also need con­sis­tency in the pub­li­ca­tion of the Folk Re­search Cen­tre’s ca­lypso mag­a­zine, Lu­cian Kaiso. In the 1992 edi­tion it was clearly stated “Lu­cian Kaiso will be pub­lished an­nu­ally.”

In con­clu­sion, I give thanks to the Cre­ative Prin­ci­ple for the life, energy and con­tri­bu­tion of all par­tic­i­pants in the king­dom of ca­lypso and may ca­lypso and our ded­i­cated ca­lyp­so­ni­ans live long.

The 2015 Ca­lypso monarch Walleigh per­form­ing at the

Ca­lypso fi­nals.

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