Is Crop Over … Over? Are we Beating a Dead Horse?

Submitted by Pachamama
30 years later has Crop Over become more about beads and feathers rather than cultural expression?

30 years later has Crop Over become more about beads and feathers rather than cultural expression?

More than 30 years ago Barbados sought to resurrect what we called Crop Over. It was argued then that such a festival would be good for tourism, the promotion of local cultural expressions, an aid for young people to learn local culture etc. These are all worthy, but limiting, aspirations. However, the festival has steadily been losing its essence, has been declining or failing to capture the imagination of the world. Indeed it appears that there is no more space for Crop Over to promote cultural development. This is not an exception, for cultural expression seems to have been generally arrested. It is an ‘arrested development’ where the established calypsonians, as the main force behind the festival, and who used to imbue a sense of cultural rivalry are withdrawing those energies. The replacements are not from that era and therefore represent a different interpretation of ethos. In this there is a certain monotony in the lyrics, rhythms and rhymes etc. This monotony maybe a function of inbreeding even when one recognizes cultural influences from elsewhere. The management has been beset, from nearly the beginning, with internal tensions that were never helpful for development.

Our anecdotal judgments may indeed be proved incorrect by facts on the ground, all types of studies and the general feelings of the people. But some of us no longer feel the urge to be in Barbados at Crop Over time. It no longer matters that 8 or 9 or 10 festivals could be missed in a row. The past excitement of Crop Over is no longer infectious.  We have seen festivals in Brazil a few times, Trinidad a dozens of times, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent etc and this general lethargy maybe merely a generational thing where the current group of young people find these public demonstrations of fun and frolic as irresistible as we did 30 years ago. But we tend to think not.

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