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The aftermath of mas’


Matthew D. Farley

The aftermath of mas’

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 . . . Their magic is much more powerful than mortals can suppose. – Brazilcarnival.com
Every year following the country’s premier cultural festival, Crop Over there is much public outcry about the behaviour of some Barbadians, particularly during the Kadooment “wine down”. In an Anesta Henry article in the August 11,  Saturday Sun, Reverend Dr Lucille Baird made her feelings abundantly clear. The senior pastor of Mount Zion’s Missions Inc. is reported to have said that “Barbadian society has sunk to its lowest level”. These remarks were made in reference to the photographs displayed under the headline
Wuk Of Shame!
The outspoken cleric said she was deeply disturbed by the “wanton, careless neglect and sexual abuse of our children . . . the next generation”. Dr Baird opined that “the pictures reflected a sick and depraved society that had no morals, values or ethics”. She charged that the adults showed no decency, morals or decorum.
Psychologist Beverley Drakes expressed concern about the effects the indecent behaviour could have on children who participate in it. Referring to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Child Protection Department definition, she said the act as portrayed in the photographs can be determined to be child abuse. The former Ministry of Education psychologist said that while such action might not necessarily have an immediate traumatic impact, it could lead to distortion in the thinking about right and wrong.
The director of the Child Care Board Joan Crawford also expressed her concern about the pictures showing children in compromising positions which surfaced during the festival. The board was asked to look into the possibility of action being taken against the perpetrators by the police.
However, the greatest condemnation came from Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Ronald Jones who had earlier lamented the number of fetes in Barbados. The minister, whose comments were carried on VOB 92.9 FM on August 15, alluded to the low level of depravity being exhibited. He called for persons to assert the values of decency and speak out against the behaviour which was exhibited in the photographs.
Mr Jones did not indicate any support for parents to be prosecuted, but said it is the society that should be. He condemned the righteous indignation and called for the society to be “inwardly reflective and outwardly expressive about such matters”. The minister, who said he was tired of being criticized when he commented on issues, threatened to withdraw and retreat. Mr Jones drew references to people going to town dressed in their “nighties”.
It is my expectation that over the next few days the debate will continue and the “nine-day” wonder would be laid to rest until 2013. I commend the above-mentioned persons for their boldness and for the stance which they have taken on this matter without being hypocritical.
It seems as though the pleadings of Father Clement Paul of the Roman Catholic Church fell on deaf ears. He too must be lauded for his efforts in association with Starcom Network Inc. in carrying public service announcements discouraging lewdness and vulgarity.
On another level, it could be argued that the photographers must take responsibility and avoid falling into the trap of reflecting only the worst elements of the festival. It may also be argued that the centre spread lacks balance, in that there must have been positive elements and images worthy of being captured via the newspaper. We could go on blaming the editor for lacking the necessary prudence in judgement in deciding to bring those “raw” images to the public. We could go on blaming left, right and centre.
The reality is that this indicts all of us as adults. There is no culpability that can be placed on the children in these pictures, whether as participants or as observers. Many of us know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There is a sense in which it may be argued that there is “kadooment” all year round in Barbados. But at the basic level this kind of behaviour is bound to surface unless the whole purpose of the festival and Kadooment in particular is clearly articulated and established. While Carnival in Brazil is not strictly the same as Kadooment in Barbados, that festival has a clear philosophical mooring.
In reference to the queens in costumes, it is said that “they have an important role to play”. It is impossible to imagine Carnival without “their beauty and elegant dances”. It is not about showing off “great bodies” or engaging in what is being described as “simulated sex” in public.  We have to determine what playing mas’ is about. Until we do, we will continue to express public outrage for nine days after Kadooment and then we will return to the “kadooment” of our normal lives.
Our public outrage will become part of the aftermath of mas’ in Barbados.
• Matthew D. Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education, and social commentator. Email [email protected]

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