“Why isn’t mummy here?”
This is a question that often comes from the tiny lips of four-year-old Danielle Ramsoomair.
Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah says the planned Socadrome at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port-of-Spain is segregating Carnival along racial, class and colour lines. Although he stopped short of calling for a boycott of the venue or scrapping of the plan, he said he wants national discussion on the issues of segregation and differentiation in T&T.
At a media conference at MSJ headquarters, St Joseph Village, San Fernando, yesterday, Abdulah said the Socadrome reflected the reality of a T&T society which is “highly segregated and differentiated by race, by colour, by religion, by class, by where people live geographically.”
“Unless T&T addresses all of these issues and stops sweeping them under the carpet, we will continue to have a society that is more and more polarised because we have many different T&Ts. Westmoorings is not the same as Sea lots and Barrackpore or Marabella Trainline,” he said. Abdulah said the Socadrome would be similar to the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and would promote bikinis, beads, flesh and feteing rather than theatre.
“We are losing the soul of the Carnival. We are losing the soul of the country and we have to stop that somehow and to do that we need dialogue inclusive of pan,” he said. He said the MSJ wanted to re-awaken the consciousness of the people. Last week the National Carnival Commission (NCC) agreed to allow four large Carnival bands—Bliss, Harts, Tribe and Yuma—to parade through Woodbrook to the Socadrome instead of the usual Carnival route and crossing the Queen’s Park Savannah stage.
Abdulah said the Socadrome was taking T&T back to colonial days when Carnival celebrations were separated by class, race and colour. He said here had always been two Carnivals—Mardi Gras (pretty mas) which was celebrated by the planter class and Camboulay, which was celebrated by slaves. When Camboulay was banned, he said, there was a merging of the two celebrations on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
“What we have is the complete control of the Carnival by the Mardi Gras and people’s festival has been relegated to the sidelines and made somewhat of a mockery of in all kinds of form and fashion,” he said.