Crop Over & Carnival – What is Caribbean Culture? What Does it Mean? Where Are We Going?

Submitted by Pachamama
... festivals in the Caribbean hold any particular excitement any more...

… festivals in the Caribbean hold any particular excitement any more…

We are working with a few ideas.

The people who seem to know, like to consider a culture as the beliefs, enactments, values, mores, stories and maybe traditions of a people. We always talk about the dead-endedness of the political and economic cultures in the Caribbean but it is also difficult to measure any higher level of vibrancy in any other aspects of the general ‘culture’. This is true from Trinidad to Barbados, as we will argue, if we are permitted to use Carnival and Crop Over as metrics.

The project to create a new Caribbean identity is no more visible in Jamaica than it is in St. Lucia and it is doubtful how festivals contribute. The radio call-in programs seemed to have served their purpose of absorbing critical public expression, as a release valve, like these festivals, but not much more. The market share of church attendees maybe more and more consolidating into a business organizational revivalist camp. They take their orders from elsewhere. In all this, it is difficult to reconcile the visionary, even hopeful, articulations by eminent Caribbean statesmen/women of yesterday, people like CLR James, Lloyd Best, the Great George Lamming, William Demas, Derrick Walcott, Rex Nettleford, Michael Manley and others, with what is happening today. Thankfully, none of these could have sung the praises of the queen and accept a knighthood.

Maybe it is a function of age but none of the carnival festivals in the Caribbean hold any particular excitement any more, seem chronically staid, represent a ‘monotony of a sameness’ year after year, unable to transform themselves far less their societies, but pass for the most popular cultural expressions still. And we seem not to be able to break out of this downward spiral. Disconnected from the visions which our leading sons and daughters held for us. We can no longer see the wisdom of writing another social commentary, as a calypsonian.

Or the value of expending the energies on another Demarche Gras. Or walking aimlessly up and down Gros Islet on Friday nights. What is all this about, but wasting time? And yet, most places we go in the Caribbean the environment is more and more polluted by useless noises for more and more days in a year as these cacophonies represent industrial complexes of nothingness.

None of these ‘conversations’ have anything to do with the collective vision from the independence period, as best interpreted. Is this all we are about, keeping noise? Maybe the vision was wrong. Maybe the strategic interpretation was imprecise. Maybe we as individual Caribbean people haven’t done enough to make the ancestral guidance reality. Could this be all our great ones bequeathed to us – a cultural cul-de- sac? Could the hopefulness of the pre and post-independence periods be lost forever? Is there a possibility to rekindle the spirit of independence? We are doubtful. It is a neo-colonialism at work and the festivals make a lot of pretense but in the end only play into the dominate culture.

At least the people who retreat to the Pentecostalists get the same chance of enjoyment while supposedly praising somebody up there. They too keep their fair share of useless noises, adding to environmental pollution. And most of their songs are old time. But in the calypso arena we see no songs that could be written that could say anything much different than what the greats from the past have already said. And even if this were possible, what is the utility of ‘talking’ more when all the ‘talking’ from the past was just a lot of hot air? Why would we want to keep singing about women, or politics, or partying or economy when there is little or no affect?

In the past we had people signing about ‘government boots’ but we still see more and more jackbooted thugs running rampant. And Tommy dead and gone but another one could still come again, like a second coming. And he coming, and he coming, and he coming! And even so, the new mother country that a Johnny once sang about is heading straight to oligarchy. Some say fascism. A man once posited that a Mr. Harding could not burn and more and more hard times still coming. And dey coming, and coming and coming. All kinds of men use to sing nationalistic songs to win the prize money but the constitution is yet to be repatriated. This more and more is a mere pipe dream. Not even the great Ossie Moore cud’nt get the ‘community of interests’ to give him permission to turn the country into a republic. We find it extremely difficult to envision another great one like Sparrow, Lion, Chalkdust, Gabby, Grynner, Arrow or Bag will rise again. But even if he/she did dey cud sing til’ deh voice sore, they will be no more than court jesters bou’t hey, that’s all.

We hitting at the ‘music’ but all the other art forms that were to be generated around the festivals never seem to translate to brick and mortar or internet industries, real businesses. Cultural expression from the festivals seems not to have extended to the law, for the outdated libel and slander laws remain on the books. So an old time law dictates an uncertain future. Oh los’, we lost. Yuh would never think that calypsonians were cussing people for over 30 years and when we see TV news the only points of references could be the BBC and CNN, channels which presents a narrow view of the world. So why continue cussing? Like the calypso and the festival, we could miss them for 20 years and in one single night be brought up to date. These should tell us that something is wrong, but you can’t even kill this, wid a gun!

Well, there can be no argument that the Caribbean doesn’t have a culture/s, all people everywhere meet the general definition. The real questions relate to how did we get here and where are we going. Certainly, everything we seem to want to do seems to be impromptu (picong). There’s no 100 year plan anywhere, not even for Crop Over or Carnival.

The Caribbean more generally and Barbados in particular has never had a tradition of incorporating the ideas of radicals into the body politic. In fact, the reverse is true. Enormous pressure are exerted on people, at the margins, in all spheres of activity to conform to a set of social norms which the people in charge have come to believe represent the ideal. So if we have a child for instance who could manipulate any set of numbers in his/her head but can do or does not want to do anything else people will still want to see an 11-plus exam result that fits a mean. And there are endless examples how a culture that irrationally demands conformity limit progress. We judge that the mal-development of these festivals could have been guided by a wrong culture. Until some real radicals are dug up and made to be part of our societies no amount of Crop Over Festivals nor Carnivals will make any difference in real terms.

42 comments

  • You seem to be stuck in time. The world has moved on and you just want to go backwards to the “good old days”, a nostalgic time for you – note for you. Young people today go out and have fun and in another 60 years (I am guessing your average age now) they will be saying the same thing. Things change.

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  • JUST ANOTHER LOAD OF BULL SHIT IN THE BU RUM SHOP

    JUST CHALLENGING
    THATS WHAT WE DO HERE ON BU

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  • Where are going today, a time for reflection, the following events on the culture of crop over and emancipation: A welcome reception for Columbus Short under the patronage of the Minister of Culture.
    Mighty Charmer funeral, no one from the NCF or the Ministry of Culture in attendance.
    US court issues a bent warrant for the arrest of Columbus Short

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  • The Caribbean can only have its own identity when it becomes less reliant on imports and more reliant on producing its own consumables.

    It can only have its own identity when the peoples get past history and move forward with a vision of science, understanding different cultures and be accepting of them, and love one another, irrespective of religion, race or creed.

    It can only have its own identity when people become less armchair and rumshop critics and speak their minds, instead of cow-towing to corrupt politicians.

    It can only have its own identity when the people appreciate that we cannot survive without each other, Jamaican, Vincie, Baje, Trini, that we are one and should and need to love each other as such.

    It can only have its own identity when the petty jealousy stops and we trust individuals more than political group think.

    It can only have its own identity when each of us depends on work to survive and not Government.

    Liked by 1 person

  • It is true to sumise that the intelligence of a people is reflected in its culture.

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  • Gorgie,
    The most distinguishing aspect of Caribbean culture that is recognized around the world is its music. The Caribbean is the home of reggae, calypso, meringue, rumba, zouk, and many other musical forms. Today, the rhythmic music has roots in both African and European culture. The upbeat drum rhythms are an African influence, while the forms of melody and verse are distinctly European. A unique instrument to arise from the Caribbean is the steel drum pan. In the 1940s, oil drums discarded by an American military base in Trinidad were pounded with sledge hammers. This created a concave surface that produced different tones. Famous musicians that came from the Caribbean include Bob Marley, Celia Cruz, and Juan Luis Guerra.
    I am, as many educated in the first world, enjoy the slower pace of life, but question where, this Island is heading.
    Barbados, seems to lack general attractions. And with its size compared to more valued places to travel in caribbean, leaves a let down against its former reputation…,

    Liked by 1 person

  • LIFE CHANGER
    I BELIEVE THAT THE FAILURES OF LEADERSHIP AND THE TURMOIL ALL AROUND THE WORLD WILL CREATE A VOID WHICH WILL BE FILLED BY ANTICHRIST AND HIS GLOBAL ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT.

    WE HAVE BEEN PUTTING MECHANISMS IN PLACE TO FACILITATE HIS RISE FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS

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  • David I will leave it to you to figure out that we have been Short changed by a Chris Brown clone..

    Then again everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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  • I cut and paste this definition of “culture”.

    Good starting point to discuss what our culture was, is and should be.

    “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.”

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  • Dis is the base of we musical culture. Enjoy.

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  • Dis is we homegrown modern day culture in the form of Spouge.

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  • Then there is the dynamic Li’ll Rick and his x rated 120 bpm wuk up genre.

    I will not post his videos pun here. The girls may cause de old fellas to get heart attack.

    For the record I think Li’ll Rick is a great high energy performer.

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  • @HantsI will not post his videos pun here. The girls may cause de old fellas to get heart attack.

    Gi dem a heart attack man. LOL!!!!

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  • They can go to you tube and find the videos.

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  • @Hants

    Culture is more than about music.

    Liked by 1 person

  • that is why I posted this

    “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.”

    But I await a description of what constitutes culture. I like to be educated on matters that I have little knowledge about.

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  • @Hants

    Your definition looks good!

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  • David I plagiarized that description but it seemed to make sense.

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  • hants
    you mean you googled it just as it is alleged that I google my ppts
    what a naughty boy

    you want sending to the “Retreat” to “Heads”

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  • Frankly, I firmly believe that the ‘death of culture’ is the inevitable corollary of the rise of the gay lobbyists…oh yes, and the computer which begat the mobile phone which begat the ipad which begat the…

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  • I am still waiting for one of you to write a few paragraphs on Barbados Culture and how it evolved from 1950 till now.

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  • @Hants

    One does not need a couple paragraphs, more like a couple words.

    Anything goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Barbados Has Become a Nation of Shows http://t.co/4BGh4AsqN1 via @budavid

    Barbados Has Become a Nation of Shows

    Submitted by Napolean Bonaparte Think it was Ian Webster the calypsonian  who first penned that Barbados is quickly becoming a nation of shows. Why almost every fortnight now, one could hear of reg…

    wp.me

    Liked by 1 person

  • Entertainment is a viable business.

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  • @Hants

    But does an unbriddled staging of shows act as a distraction from priorities in challenging economic times.

    Liked by 1 person

  • David who will determine who gets to promote shows.

    In the current economic climate it seems that “shows” are a major contributor to the domestic economy.

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  • @Hants

    Maybe so but is there the nin economic factors that potentially is very damaging?

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  • David we need leaders at all levels to find a way to create a prosperous sustainable economy.

    I have no clue what should be done except the obvious. Agriculture for Food security and enhance the Tourism product.

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  • There was a huge show last night in Barbados, Soca Titans starring Machel and clan, Al Gilkes is respinsible for reggae and soca on the hill with many imported acts on show – how much forex leaves the country? Onw must appreciate the cost to generate forex in Barbados and measure against gains on the domestic front.

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  • Nothing wrong with bringing Machel and others because I am sure the economic activity generated is worth what the expenditure.

    Note that Bajan performers like Alison and Li’ll Rick are touring Canada and the UK and Bajans perform at Trinidad carnival.

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  • David
    There is an interesting article in htpp://www.antillean.org/carlie-ester-race-barbados/ which is worth sharing with the BU family.It points to a truth of the lingering ethnic divide that is Barbados but which is ignored by the majority ethnic group.It suggests that the Blue Box cart whiteys leading off the Kadooment charade and the roberts manufacturing band made up of largely working class bimmers,maintain the racial bias of the plantocracy,though an irrelevance today,is still maintained by the NCF policy makers headed by nicodemus Stephen ” I believe,Of course,My opinion, Naturally and all the other boring cliches”Lashley.

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  • Seriously? An all white and almost white red people band ?

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  • @Gabriel

    Thanks, saw it making the rounds on FB. Is the article saying something the BU famiły is not aware?

    On Wednesday, 6 August 2014, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  • David what we have in Barbados is un legislated apartheid. Plain and simple.

    I have no problem with it but I have a problem with the INEQUITABLE distribution of wealth and opportunity which is more important than who wukkin up pun who.

    Hopefully the white Bajans will cross breed with white foreigners to improve their survival.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hants
    They do cross breed with white foreigners and with black sisteren and brethren.

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  • BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

    OK- when people of Irish ancestry live in another country they have Irish culture events with Irish culture from their homeland .when people with Scottish ancestry living abroad have events they use culture from Scotland
    when people with east Indian ancestry live in another country and have .a cultural event ,they us culture from their homeland/when people with Russian ancestry living in another country they have cultural events from Russia.; the list can go on forever.
    therefore bajan culture should derive from the culture of the African nation they are originally from.i am sure that is not hard to find out. easily researched where the African people of barbados came from.
    so just find out that and see what their culture is.
    take the best of the culture of these African states that bajans came from originally.. and there is barbados culture.
    how easy is that/?
    how else would the African people keep their culture and know the oh so important know your roots concept.the majority of bajans are of African ancestry .there fore that is their culture.
    you can not just make up culture.
    i hope you can see this concept..as it is the facts.African Barbadians culture stems from where in Africa there ancestry is.

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  • BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

    there are NO indigenous people on barbados all came from elsewhere.
    Bob Marley said- if you dont know your past you dont know your future.
    do bajans know their past? where they came from? this could be the whole problem.no indigenous people on barbados therefore there is no bajan culture.if they were it would be Amerindian culture would it not.
    i hope this helps in some way.

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  • BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

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  • BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

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  • BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

    i know the whites trying to be all up there is comical to say the least.

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  • One wonders where the black race is heading.

    Letter from Africa: Black beauty

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30838537

    Like

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