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New friendships forged in community band Starlift
This year I decided to shed “pretty mas” and play to the sounds of the steel pan. In a modest costume, I was chipping down the road with Starlift. From Ariapita Avenue, down St Vincent Street to downtown, the rhythm of the pan was intoxicating. In tune with the music that defines Carnival, I rediscovered the unity of friendships amongst strangers. Eureka, it dawned on me, that pan plays a much greater role in our society than just good music. Pan is the epitome of community. For two days my girl and I were welcomed as one of the boys, a Starlift family member, equal and united under one banner, one sweet, sweet pan community of countrymen.
I hereby give evidence and condemn anyone who promotes racism that divides our people. We Trinis and Tobagonians’ culture, in truth, lives the words enshrined in our national anthem: “Here every creed and race find an equal place, and may God bless our nation.” When I learnt of the many good community spirited activities that Starlift was doing, especially with the youth, I was taken aback by its lack of sponsorship for the past two years. Starlift is an icon and pan is a tradition we must nourish and grow to pass the torch of pan community and pride to the next generation.
I was surprised my new found friend, Cudjoe, a 48-year veteran of Starlift, passed the Starlift flag to me to lead the band down St James (for a few minutes). If my memory serves me well, in the old days especially, to carry the flag was an honour and a privilege. I felt proud and appreciative to carry the “colours” for Starlift. To Cudjoe, Franco (captain), Calvin (band organiser), and others whose names I would have remembered but for a few drinks too many, on behalf of my companion and myself, we is family now. Panman is boss!
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