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Ambushed! Yes, I said it. That’s exactly what I feel has been happening to our Foreday Morning in recent years.
This is not a fringe activity which forms part of the Crop Over Festival. It is a national event, which from its inception has been listed in the season’s calendar.
Surprise, surprise, ’cause you wouldn’t have thought so?
Based on how this event in particular – and yes, this is the one I choose to focus on – has been treated, it is difficult at times to remember that this forms part of the Crop Over national activities staged by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF).
Therefore, we need to pay more respect to this activity and all others that fall under the ambit of the NCF.
I say this because in recent years I have seen the start of a disturbing trend where every and any “sam coochie and the duppy” can organise a band for Foreday Morning, having it the same day and time the NCF’s event is taking place. The only thing different is the venue.
It is a practice that should have been nipped in the bud from the very start.
It is baffling to me why these bands would have been granted permission anyway to go sometimes to remote areas to jump in the dead of night.
It is a practice that takes away from what used to be a crush of dutty revellers playing mud mas, chipping all along Spring Garden Highway amidst the crowds lining the street to see them pass by.
Let’s take this year, for example. So far, there are approximately 37 bands registered to jump on Foreday Morning on August 3, compared to 47 that were registered last year. And believe you me, the drop would have been more over the years. Why allow this to go on?
While I understand the drop isn’t only due to the fact that bands have broken away from tradition and started their own, it cannot be ignored that there is indeed a fall-off. Still, it is an issue that should be addressed and arrested.
I certainly have been one who was, and continues to be, vehemently opposed to jumping in any band that has as its “ammo” an ambush. Why would I ambush something that is Barbadian and my culture?
Which Bajan band could risk pulling this move in another country during its own national carnival, and worse yet, be successful in doing so? (And no I am not xenophobic.)
Which Bajan band would have received permission from the powers that be in another country to do this?
Well, I am not about to break my patriotic ties and jump with any of them. I am not about that. I am not going into no landfill, or canefield. If I am jumping for Foreday, you better believe it will be on the Spring Garden Highway, or wherever the national staging of this event is being held.
If it is the police who give permission to these various bands, a rethinking of this should be in order for next year, since the festival has already started.
I believe that bandleaders need to be more vocal on this, too, as after all, this is “we culture”.
I see that president of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders and bandleader of Power X 4, Chetwin Stewart, has already raised the concern that his band has been forced to scale down. He blamed it on the lack of sponsorship, noting that they only raised $25 000 of the $100 000 they were targeting. Laura Galt of Jump Promotions also said they will not even be on the road on the big jump-up day.
Some bandleaders have already asked for an urgent meeting with new Minister of Culture John King, who rightfully said while he did plan to meet with them, did not feel the timing was right.
Might I suggest that when you get the minister’s ear, you don’t only deal with concessions, but also focus on preserving what is dubbed the Sweetest Summer Festival.
Let me hasten to say, too, that I don’t believe the NCF is without some fault. If another band can come into your country and so easily woo revellers away from your event, it says a lot, or rather, it doesn’t say a lot, for your product and its offering.
I say to the NCF, the time is now to relook and possibly revamp this event. We must do all we can to preserve and maintain the uniqueness of our festival, while still embracing those who come and enjoy.
Remember, this is “We Ting and We Culture”. (CM)