Submitted by Hamilton Hill
Just last Tuesday I called the Fireworks program on the Voice Of Barbados and had what I thought was a spirited chat with its hosts relative to the scant regard shown to the art form of Calypso in Barbados. I made the point that the nationally owned TV station opted to feature Whitney Houston one Kadooment day, in a slot that easily could have offered some much needed exposure to one of the exponents of the art form. As soon as the call had ended the text message came. “one thing bout you….once it got anything to do wid this guvmant, um gotta be bad“. The idiot had missed the fact that I had made reference to an incident that happened back in the decade of the nineties. Last night towards the end of the broadcast of the “Pic O De Crop” finals at Kensington Oval any residual doubt to my claim surely would have dissipated.
In an unforgivable act of disloyalty the hard work of the Calypsonian was again passed over, for while the judges deliberated the audience was subjected to the voices of Heidi Hauge, Scooter LEE, Johnny Rodriquez and others. Oldie goldies for a crowd that had spent good money in very bad economic times to support Calypso. This was the event held so as to choose the Calypso King or Queen of Barbados. It was held under the auspices of the NATIONAL CULTURAL FOUNDATION, and as such the adage of he who pays the piper calls the tune obtained. This writer therefore places squarely at the feet of CEO Mr Cranston Browne the bucket of teardrops we cried last night for our culture. Did you Sir not feel the emotion, did you not see the exhibited passion as the following lyrics were belted out? ” when duty calls, yah put the world on pause….and be a PATRIOT for de cause”. In this instance the cause is the survival of the exponents of Calypso. Perhaps you missed it. Please do not miss nor take lightly the following observations.
Calypso is the fuel that propels this festival. Time and again we have heard ministers of Government speak magniloquently to the take of the festival. We have also heard of the difficulties experienced, the costs incurred as contributions year after year are made to this festival oftentimes at financial loss to some contributors. Exposure Sir at every turn is of the essence. The Mighty Gabby called for a quarter million dollars in prize money. The Red Plastic Bag made the more realistic proposal of one hundred thousand dollars per competition. The NCF’s proposal is to combine Sweet Soca with Party Monarch. Fah real? Do you not recognize why is it that the biggest names in calypso have ran away from the Pic O De Crop competition? Have you forgotten that over the years Crop Over and controversy have had a synonymous relationship? Rather than rewarding these hard working men and women by a reinjection of some of the capital their efforts generate, the NCF continues to shower them in disrespect. Last night’s occurrence was a slap in the face of every single person who in anyway made a contribution to this festival. One for which the foundation should publicly apologize. My wish is that the Calypsonians find a creative way to remind the NCF that calypso drives this festival.