When indentured labour began entering Trinidad from India in 1845, the overwhelming majority of these people were Hindus with a small number of Muslims.
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Lyrical licks for PP
If not for the few social commentaries at yesterday’s Calypso Fiesta, one could have easily thought the show was dedicated to giving a serious bashing to the People’s Partnership Government.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and former St Joseph candidate Ian Alleyne came in for some severe tongue-lashing from the calypsonians yesterday, and the Skinner Park, San Fernando, audience lapped up the picong.
Although history has shown that calypsonians always criticise United National Congress (UNC) governments in their renditions, some of the lyrics yesterday were considered so insulting, although at times very humorous as well, they were sure to have touched a few nerves.
Leading the charge during the first half of the show was Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel, who had the massive crowd singing and dancing with a fiery performance of his song Bois.
Likening calypsonians to stick fighters, Mistah Shak sent a message to the Government that there would be no mercy in his gayelle. Calling out Alleyne, the host of Crime Watch, he sang, “He should have taken a lesson from his sister...What wrong with your family, always ending up in parties you don’t belong.” Taking a swing at Ramlogan as well, he sang, “He is the AG because he is arrogant and greedy” and “You can’t fight in this gayelle with pre-action protocol.”
Speaking after his performance, he told the Sunday Guardian although the crowd loved his performance, the judges had their jobs to do.
“At the end of the day, as an artiste I just have to go out there, do the best I can do and leave it up to the judges.
“What I can say is I made it very difficult today, because you can see that the audience just responded to me from the word go. I don’t worry about making it to final, I just try to lead my soul out the stage,” Shak said.
Even Bunny B (Neville Brown) dished out his criticism, mixing political commentary with humour in Milk. Dressed in a shirt and trousers that bulged to show he had a large gut that was filled with milk, his appearance had the crowd in stitches. The song poked fun at Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan’s statements last year that citizens were lazy and making themselves sick with obesity. However, Bunny B’s song dealt with the belly sizes of Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, who was at the show, and Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, saying they were filled with milk from the treasury.
Singing “it was the milk from the treasury that saturate their body,” he had the audience chanting his refrain, “they can’t find they PP at all.”
In a live interview on Channel Four afterwards, however, Moonilal said he was not offended by the comments, as he was one who could give and take picong.
“The good news is that they will not be offended by what I say as well, so it works together that way,” Moonilal said.
“It’s great to get the depictions in this art form. It is not the first year I am here, I am here every single year that I know myself. I am a San Fernandian as well. In fact, I will be here when nobody is interested in taking photographs and know who I am.”
Bodyguard (David Mohammed) also served up controversy on a platter to the fans with his song False Papers. The song has been a topic of debate after Kalypso Revue manager Sugar Aloes refused to accept Bodyguard in his tent because he believed the song was unfairly attacking East Indians.
However, Bodyguard fared better on the stage yesterday, as the crowd seemed to be love his rendition. He even hit back at Sugar Aloes, saying he wanted to ban “good kaiso.”
But not all calypsonians targeted the Government. Reigning San Fernando Calypso Monarch Rondel Donawa gave a solid performance in attempting to raise the ambition among the nation’s youth with Yes We Can, which used a phrase coined by US President Barack Obama during his election campaign.
There were also other good performances by Karen Asche, Nicole Thomas, Devon Seales, Amrika Mutroo, Chalkdust and Brother Valentino. One notable aspect of the show’s first half was that no artiste was shown toilet paper, which is usually used to show the crowd’s disapproval of a song or performer.
Earlier, thousands of spectators became anxious after the show failed to start on time due to problems with the sound system. Some patrons called for their $300 tickets to be refunded, but once the show started all was forgotten and patrons had a ball.