The late ‘De Fosto’ opened his 1993 Carnival song Is My Turn with words: “For too long I have been knocking on the door. Now I fed up, I don’t intend to knock no more. This time I going to break it down.”
He then launched into ‘now is my turn to party’ and he related that, after being persistently underrated, he will control the Carnival festival.
As a columnist, I love happenstance. This occurred when Couva Joylanders, playing that De Fosto song, won the Medium Band Panorama Finals held in Tobago.
With the staging of the Medium Band Finals, Tobago got its turn to party within the national Panorama framework; and, but for one glaring exception, did not let us down. The glaring exception was the late start and the inconsistent reasons given for it.
The Finals were scheduled to start at 7pm. Early evening rain did present some challenges for the organisers, but rain was not a factor in the readiness to start at 7.
At approximately 7.35, it was announced over the public address system: “we are awaiting the arrival of Her Excellency, the President, Paula Mae Weekes.” That was the first reason given for the late start at a time when the first band was visibly ready to be called on stage.
At 7.52pm, a fanfare announced the arrival of the President, which was confirmed over the public address system. Then followed the inevitable speeches. Ms Beverly Ramsey-Moore, President of Pan Trinbago, told us that she took full responsibility for pushing back the start and mentioned rain.
We therefore had two inconsistent statements about why the start was delayed. The second statement was no doubt intended to deflect the discourtesy to the paying audience of the late start.
Whatever they wanted us to believe, a clear apology should have been forthcoming, especially when the office of the President has lately been giving us guidance on propriety.
For persons coming from Trinidad, attending the Panorama in Tobago is costly because one has to add the cost of the ticket and, in some cases, accommodation. The late start can cause reputational damage and is bad for business, bearing in mind the potential of this event to attract foreign visitors to Tobago.
It is not too late for an unambiguous explanation of why we had to wait nearly an hour beyond the scheduled start time to receive the entertainment for which we had paid.
Pan Trinbago is aware that there are some other organisational mistakes that have to be rectified, but it was a wonderful evening of music and stage presentation in the hallowed Carnival traditions of flag waving, costuming and dancing.
There was also a taste of another kind of party, that is the political one. Fed up with the late start compounded by the speeches telling us what we already knew, namely that it was a historic occasion, we had to heckle the outgoing Chief Secretary, Tobago House of Assembly, Mr Kelvin Charles off the stage.
I don’t want to be an egg in a Tobago rockstone dance. However, I have had difficulty understanding how the supporters of Mr Charles have dealt with his defeat as Leader of the PNM Tobago Council.
Mr Charles lost an election in a ballot that required the winner to take more than fifty percent of the vote. He lost in a runoff. As is common in such systems, two of the lower placed candidates, gave their support to another one of their number, Ms Tracy Davidson-Celestine. To my surprise that was strongly criticised by former Senator Stanford Callender, the Chairman of the PNM Tobago Council.
Mr Charles has since agreed to stand down as Chief Secretary at the end of April. That is laudable but some persons are hating on the victorious Ms Davidson-Celestine.
This ill-feeling may be symptomatic of a pervasive culture that breeds feelings of entitlement to be an official for life—possibly because the fruits of office, like giving patronage and receiving freeness are sometimes too sweet to relinquish.
We will see a lot of that patronage and freeness this Carnival weekend. Mr Charles mercifully is not clinging on to that.