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EDITORIAL – Dealing with Crop-Over concerns

marciadottin, [email protected]

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WITH JUST 15 DAYS to go before the grand climax on Kadooment Day, enthusiasm for Crop-Over 2010 seems to be high, if the large crowds attending the various fetes  and limes across the island are anything to go by.These events have been attracting Barbadians in their thousands even if they are held in the middle of the week, like Wednesday night’s Wadadah Club’s annual Crop-Over Back To School fete at Kensington Oval.So what’s behind such eager support for Crop-Over this time around? Perhaps it is the fact that the party events allow free entry or have a low entrance fee – not many would look such gift horses in the mouth.This year’s enthusiasm may also be the result of a strong desire among Barbadians’ to enjoy themselves so as to take their minds off the country’s economic situation.Before this week’s pronouncements by the Central Bank Governor on the state of the economy and the poor prospects for real growth, many average Barbadians were suggesting that things were not going right, and it seems they decided they would enjoy this year’s festival in a big way as the future is uncertain.Another reason for the buzz for this year’s festival could be the absence of any controversy, real or imagined, to speak of. There was, and maybe still is, a feeling in some quarters that a major controversy adds spice to the festival, enlivening it and making it more appealing. But after two consecutive years of successful festivals with no significant disputes, it is about time that this notion is abandoned for good. That said, a number of concerns have been raised. These include the extending of the Kadooment Day route, the choosing of the Soca Royale semi-finalists by text only – which has the potential to reduce this to a popularity contest where quality is not a prime factor – and the content and calibre of some tunes. These issues, though they have some merit, have proven to be merely storms in teacups and not big enough to cause a major brouhaha.Of course, this could change drastically today with the naming of the 18  Pic-o-de-Crop semi-finalists. Every year, the announcement of who made it and who didn’t generates heated public debate. At the best of times the results of this preliminary judging trigger bitter disagreement among Barbadians, nearly all of whom become calypso experts at this time of year, in very much the same way they do with politics and cricket at certain times.This year the judges’ choices could cause even more talk than usual, given the general opinion that the quality of the social commentary calypsos on offer is not the best.Given this, diehard fans of some of the usually most popular tents could be in for a great deal of disappointment and shock, thereby providing combustible ingredients for heated controversy even at this relatively late stage.The bigger issue, though, is the generally limited public response to the tents, and the fact that the radio stations continue to focus on party songs rather than social commentaries to give the tents a push at a time when the quality of much of the party music being aired leaves a lot to be desired, both in terms of content and production.Since calypso is the driving force of Crop-Over, the National Cultural Foundation should probably look at providing incentives to encourage wider performance of social commentary, and this may stimulate wider acceptance of this calypso genre. Whatever concerns there still may be, it is heartening that more Barbadians are coming out and enjoying their annual cultural festival in the way they are. It is our hope they continue to do so without violence or any other untoward behaviour.