THE ETHIC OF CAR­NI­VAL

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Wayne Kublals­ingh

We must NOT agree that Car­ni­val is de­bauched, or that it is go­ing to die. Here is why.

Who would have thought that we could de­vise a war, a stage, a gayelle - sans stick, sans knife, sans guns? Just sans hu­man­ite. A wargame of wit. Dra­matic, feisty, en­thralling, full of play, bring­ing the au­di­ence into play. A mock game of the quick­est and high­est in­tel­lects. A blind man, a politi­cian, a sage, a woman tiger. Were the wits of Shake­speare, the Euro­pean court, that quick? Per­haps. And not a shot fired. No one killed an Iraqi child. Just satire, irony, vi­tu­per­a­tion, par­ody, polemic of the quick­est or­der. And both vic­tor and van­quished, the Gypsy and the Blind Man walk off the stage, one es­cort­ing the other. Blood; that is, broth­er­hood.

Who would have thought that you could scram­ble in the slums, pick up a tin, beat into it a tune? Mak­ing some­thing from garbage, wreck­age, noth­ing. Souse from pig foot. Soup from cow heel. Bhaji from bush. An or­ches­tra, com­mu­ni­ties of beat­ers, play­ers, pan­nists brought into a chore­og­ra­phy of drama, dance, mu­sic. Lil boy, lil girl, school­child, fat man, thin man, idler, busi­ness­man. Ja­panese, Nor­we­gian, Amer­i­can. Did Tchaikovsky in Saint Peters­burg ever sound so good? Per­haps. Or­ga­ni­za­tion and dis­ci­pline from steel.

Who would have thought that we could string up some feath­ers, a hip and some bone on two tall sticks and pro­duce Pi­casso? Africa? Europe? A king? Taken an old icon, the Moko, to in­ter­text with it an­other old icon, the op­er­atic dance, swan, to make a new icon? To rise against the sky, walk, dance, play? To make a mov­ing Taj; Taj Ma­hal? To say, mean some­thing. All on an im­per­ma­nent stage? Ge­nius.

Who would have thought that Ca­lypso’s old khaki pants would bust? Couldn’t fit any longer. Would have to be stripped, darned, re-sewn into Soca. Into a bit of rock, punk, reg­gae, ragga, hip hop, soul, kaiso at the So­cadrome? Neon, jam­ming, stalk­ing lights, ath­letic dance, the spec­tac­u­lar and the primeval? In front of a crowd of five, ten, fif­teen thou­sand? The pop, out pop­ping politi­cians and their political ral­lies? Youth tot­ing gui­tars, blast­ing lyrics, do­ing gym­nas­tics, not guns. The art of the spec­ta­cle.

Who would have thought that vi­o­lence, coup, over­throw could be sub­verted with lyrics, licks, laugh­ter? With bois, guntalk, pi­cong, buf­foon­ery, bel­li­cose rib­aldry, rather than Bakr. And Cro Cro, Chalk­dust, would still be there, old brigadiers and snipers. And no­body ever shot them, hung them, dropped a bomb on their heads. A gayelle of talk, stupid­ness, ban­ter, truth, false­hoods, eth­nic de­fence and at­tack. And no­body ever killed a Hutu. Civ­i­liza­tion and discourse.

Who would have thought that you could play a king with mud? As­sault a king­dom with ketchup rather than blood? With old paint, blue, old en­gine oil? Scraps of ply, tim­ber, a thumb­tack and an ole nail? Play­ing the Op­po­si­tion Leader with a pose: I Al­ways Op-pos­ing! Play a slave with a log of wood –Wood­slave – dragged up the High Street? Make your own theatre, dia­lec­tic, with scraps of this and that? And have some fun? And go na­tional, in­ter­na­tional? Face­book and in­sta­gram. Democ­racy.

Who would have thought that you could make a war with a cork-full of rum, a drum, and two lengths of poui? Mooma mooma your son in the grave al­ready. But no one re­ally ends up in the grave. The worst is a lit­tle draw­ing of blood, a buss-head. Put down your guns and take up a stick, a box­ing glove. Stick is a trib­ute to the an­cient mar­tial art of war, con­trol, tem­per; rather than vi­cious­ness, ig­no­rance, stupid­ness – vi­o­lence and youth­man blood. Mar­tial art, not slaugh­ter and death.

And who would have thought that you could own the Govern­ment road for two days? Just be some­thing big, grand, a march, a prom­e­nade, a fi­esta, a pa­rade. Buckle, bands, beads, feath­ers, tin­sel, rhine­stones, big sound. Walk right down the middle of the road, dance, half or quar­ter-clothed, with no SUV, van, truck, maxi taxi to block you, just peo­ple. A grand mer­can­tile prod­uct. Trade, ex­change, bazaar, mon­ey­mak­ing, forex. A chance to play your­self: thin man, fat man, big belly man and woman, KFC fat, no pres­sure. Rich peo­ple, poor peo­ple, not ex­actly mix­ing, but edg­ing up to each other. Eros, God of wine and gy­ra­tion, fol­lowed by Christ, the Lent. Car­ni­val is the most in­tense ex­pres­sion and de­pic­tion of our in­tel­li­gence, cre­ativ­ity, ge­nius, ca­pac­ity for sus­tain­abil­ity for sur­vival and sus­te­nance. Our pre­li­dic­tion for peace, not war. Talk, not rage. Democ­racy not au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism. Of African-Euro­pean-French-Cre­ole her­itage, it is an­tag­o­nis­tic to the round of cor­rup­tion, vi­o­lence and death which daily be­sets our na­tion. An ex­pres­sion of an­cient African ethics, so­cial art and hu­man­ism.

What would car­ni­val be with­out con­tro­versy and top­i­cal is­sues? Peter Min­shall’s cre­ation for 2016

“dy­ing swan” stirred up both.

Rev­el­ers en­joy­ing what is of­ten de­scribed as “the great­est show on earth”

Trinidad car­ni­val!

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