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More blows for Sugar Aloes over Bodyguard snub

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The debate over Michael (Sugar Aloes) Osouna’s decision to reject Roger (Bodyguard) Mohammed for the Kalypso Revue tent’s 2014 cast continued to rage within the calypso fraternity and on social Web sites yesterday, with the former being severely criticised for the move in some quarters. 


Four-time national calypso monarch Weston (Cro Cro) Rawlins, who like Sugar Aloes has performed scathing political commentaries against the Government, came out strongly in defence of Bodyguard’s rendition False Papers, saying Aloes had made a huge mistake. “Sugar Aloes is wrong and stupid,” Rawlins told the T&T Guardian.


“He should listen to Sparrow’s Slave, and learn the way calypso began, and what calypso is. Listen to the lyrics: ‘We had to chant and sing to express our feelings to that wicked and cruel man. That was the medicine to make him listen. And is so calypso began.’ “Calypso was born as commentary and as satire highlighting the wrongs of those in authority and politicians. When slavery was abolished, that is how the jumping in the road, and the Road March thing, began.”


In defending his decision not to select Mohammed, Osouna, who manages the Revue, said he found the song offensive, racist and unfairly targetting the Indo-Trinidadian community. He said as a businessman/calypsonian, he could not allow Mohammed to sing a song which would serve to divide Afro- and Indo-Trinidadians. 


But Rawlins, who is a committed supporter of the People’s National Movement (PNM), said he believed the decision was made because Osouna, who also has a history of singing scathing commentaries against governments and individuals, did not want to incense the ruling People’s Partnership government. “When Aloes sang She’s Royal for Kamla he was placed in their good books,” he said, referring to Osouna’s decision to sing on a PP political platform last year. “But he also sang for Jack, so now he is in a jam. 


“Aloes has no moral authority to reject a calypso. He has the right as a tent manager to reject anybody, but he cannot pontificate on calypso. His reason for blanking the man is disrespectful and wrong.” Cro Cro also confirmed that his Icons calypso tent will not be running this year. “Icons got no funding so we cannot operate,” he said. “I have taken the Government to the Equal Opportunities Board. The ministry has to answer how every other calypso tent is getting funding by Government and my tent, Icons, is not.”


Also contacted yesterday, eight-time national calypso monarch, Dr Hollis (Mighty Chalkdust) Liverpool, recalled that calypso has always been the mouthpiece of the people, but refused to be drawn into commenting much on the controversy of the matter. “First off, I am taking part in the competition, so I don’t want to comment on this issue as I do not wish to jeopardise anybody,” he said. “The calypsonian has the right to sing about anything he wants, providing he does not break the laws of the land. 


“At the same time, a leader of a tent has the right to decide what he wants in his tent. Tent managers have always in the past removed calypsonians from their cast. Kitchener Revue manager Carl ‘Jazzy’ Pantin benched Bro Valentino for singing Dr Williams, We Don’t Want no Revolution. “Calypso composition has always been and continues as an art. What composers have to do is compose your song as art and not be offensive.”


Anthony (Allrounder) Hendrickson said only: “Yes, I am part of management of Klassic Ruso tent, but I never get into calypso people business.”