Carnival post-mortems are usually futile because the vested interests in Carnival are so strong that those with the power to make changes will not attempt to solve congestion on the parade route, the marginalisation of traditional mas and other problems.
Nevertheless, all praise to Pan Trinbago, under the presidency of Ms Beverley Ramsey-Moore, for making the Grandstand full again on a Panorama final night. Application of my concept of prime bands in prime time was a success—both in Trinidad for the large band finals and in Tobago for the medium band finals.
The leadership of Ms Ramsey-Moore has proved the value of breaking traditional barriers to progress and achieving an improvement of the Carnival product.
The Socadrome is controversial, but private enterprise has also broken the barrier on traditional routes and has provided a partial solution to congestion. Nevertheless, there is a social cost which needs to be the subject of mature consultation.
Praise too for the impressive police turnout. It made the usually highly visible disruptive elements very scarce.
However, one negative enduring feature of Carnival is the voracious activity of the wrecker and I cannot let this pass any longer.
Much of the robust practical sense contained in these columns is a reflection of the no-nonsense attitudes of my mother Celia and my Auntie Lorna, who brought me up.
Auntie, a devout Anglican, drew her inspiration from the Bible. She frequently spoke of straining at a gnat (a type of small insect) and swallowing a camel. The biblical source of this concept is Chapter 23 of the book of Matthew, which records the stern message of Jesus against hypocrisy.
This sermon contains many examples of hypocrisy and how leaders overlook the important things. One metaphor that is also used is reference to a cup and its contents: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you make clean the outside of the cup and the platter but within there are full of extortion and excess.”
Some weeks ago, I reminded the Mayor of Port-of-Spain that he should release the results of the audit that he said was being done on the wrecker service. He had reportedly suspended the operation of the wrecker pending this audit. The wrecker returned, but we do not know the results of the audit and the question of how the spoils of the wrecking activity are divided, and to whom.
Because I spend a lot of time in Woodbrook for Carnival, other than when I am being a joyful sailor in All Stars, the wrecker is in my face. I saw several of the wreckers racing to ‘clean up’ the side streets of parked vehicles.
Presumably, this is done in the name of traffic management. But there is another far more important element of traffic management in Woodbrook with the potential for fatality, which is consistently ignored and is in breach of the Carnival regulations.
Vehicles are not to be driven on certain streets without a special pass obtained from the police—obviously, in part, because vehicles passing between masqueraders present an obvious danger. Historically, there was an incident between one masquerader and a vehicle which caused the colonial authorities to stop what was then the one-day ‘discovery day’ Carnival in August.
Notwithstanding the requirement of a special pass, year after year, I see vehicles without any pass displayed on Ariapita Avenue—even when the Avenue is full of masqueraders. Many times they emerge from the ‘cleaned-up’ side streets and cross the Avenue between music trucks and masqueraders. Early on the Carnival mornings, many of the vehicles drive at great speed along Ariapita Avenue.
Is ‘cleaning up’ on the side streets—at great profit to unknown persons—more important than enforcing the regulation against vehicles driving where they please on Carnival days?
Readers will no doubt use their own experiences to think of the many examples of our public officials praising themselves for doing something that is relatively minor while overlooking something that is far more important.
Meanwhile, it is illustrative that the over-blown interaction between Iwer George and the husband of Nikki Minaj should revolve around a man whose name is Petty.