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‘Calypsonians ain’t entitled’

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


So the Aloes and the Bodyguard thing seems to have ended with a fizzle—Tuco pronounced that a calypsonian can’t get vex because he get rejected. And Aloes the tent manager apparently realised the importunacy of the song. Good for him. There’s more to it, but first, a spot of history.


It’s no revelation to say this isn’t the first time a calypsonian was censored by tents and/or politicians. An early significant precedent was the Growling Tiger, who withdrew from the Senior Brigade tent in 1959 after his song about E Williams’ wedding caused Williams to boycott the tent.



A few years later, the Guardian editorialised (February 27, 1968) about “The Chalkdust case”: the Ministry of Education decided that Mr Liverpool had contravened regulations by singing calypso. And on November 16, 1972, this newspaper reported that Chalkdust’s application for PNM membership had been rejected—apparently for the same reason. There’s much more, but you get the point.


All well and good, but unimportant. The real issue in 2014 is the fundamental flaw in Carnivalist logic and knowledge which is passing unchallenged. From Bodyguard’s and the song’s composer GB’s statements, it appears this is being framed as a “freedom of speech” issue. I’d hoped the UWI and UTT Carnival people would say something, but if they did, I missed it. (Probably too busy with their Carnival bands.)


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