“Bro Keith, the Rastaman have ah saying, ‘Idetate to utter.’ Know it? It means ‘Think before you speak.’ Are you trying to take us back 60 years? Your position is the same as in the colonial days when pan was seen as a noisy instrument produced by rogues and vagabonds with no ambition and had to be eradicated by all means.”
The following Letter to the Editor, a response to a comment by Express columnist Keith Subero, was submitted to Wired868 by Pan Trinbago’s Public Relations Officer, Michael L Joseph:
I wish to reply to an article written in the Daily Express by veteran journalist Keith Subero on Monday 7 May, 2018, headlined “Take pan away from players.”
Two calypsoes keep bouncing around in my head as I try to come to terms with Subero’s comments. The first is David Rudder’s “Madman’s Rant” and the second Bro Valentino’s “Barking Dogs.” The reason is that Subero’s words sound to me like they are coming from madmen in rags, madmen in tags and some madmen in their velvet gowns. And their suits\
Bro. Keith, the Rastaman have ah saying, “Idetate to utter.” Know it? It means “Think before you speak.” Are you trying to take us back 60 years? Your position is the same as in the colonial days when pan was seen as a noisy instrument produced by rogues and vagabonds with no ambition and had to be eradicated by all means. The pan players stood their ground then, emerging strong enough to make steelpan into the industry that it is today with all the potential that pan lovers like you are seeing and believing that we are not trying to exploit or not capable of exploiting.
Rome, as the saying goes, was not built in a day and, like every other institution in this country, the steelpan organization has its challenges, some of them precisely because of people who share your sentiments.
You have me wondering if it is that, in your desire to stay relevant as a journalist, you are looking for soft targets or low-hanging fruit. The veteran in you should see that this country is ripe and bursting at the seams with issues affecting the lives of every citizen. None of our institutions are working to our benefit, yet, because of your set agenda, you find time to attack the steelpan institution, spouting allegations of every kind, for none of which you have evidence you can present to support you in a court of law. You are trying, for reasons best known to you, to paint Pan Trinbago as the worst managed institution in Trinidad and Tobago.
Taking her cue from you, the Queen of England should nullify our republican status, take away Independence and re-establish the colonial secretariat to administer our national affairs so that we, the citizens, can once again see the light; after all, haven’t the local politicians corruptly mismanaged the country and made a total mess of the present system? But it is much easier to be happy, I guess, by blaming Pan Trinbago. Why don’t you recommend that we put professional administrators and big business in place of the political managers?
Bro Keith, the Nestor Sullivan presentation is nothing new. He was a member of the administration of Pan Trinbago for many years and is quite aware of the volume of plans and papers produced on possible ways forward and presented to various regimes only to realise that a number of influential people in this country believe that pan players should not be controlling the commanding heights of a potential billion-dollar industry that they have developed from discarded oil drums.
So, the plan to this day is to frustrate the process of development and continue to vilify them in order to achieve the desired results of taking control away from them.
Disrespectful as you are by describing pan players as “a blood-sucking specie, preying on the Government’s annual subvention,” year after year without fail, I still see you and the likes of you making a beeline for the Pan Trinbago offices or keeping our phones busy in your quest to secure complimentary tickets for Panorama. Yet you keep making adverse comments about the organization’s low profit margin coming out of the same show.
And may I remind you that the annual subvention is a but a token contribution towards the steelbands’ participation in our National Festival, which attracts visitors from across the globe to our shores.
Let me remind you too, above all, that pan players’ contributions deserve compensation.
I don’t know the difference between a veteran journalist and an investigative journalist but common sense demands that both varieties check their facts before making pronouncements. The “fact” that the steelbands outside of this country have gone so far ahead of us that we now have to act like tomatoes and play ketchup is a completely false notion which has no basis in fact; it is nothing but plain old propaganda.
I say this knowing full well that the steelbands in America, England, Canada and all those major countries where the grassroots bands exist are going through a struggle for survival. The only place where the steelpan is making strides is in the universities that have invested in research and development. There, funding is provided by the State because those countries have a different approach and appreciation for all things cultural. But that is a different matter altogether.
Trying to take pan away from pan players is not the way to go, my friend; the best available option, let me assure you, is sitting down and engaging in meaningful dialogue.