Keep mas’ relevant
THERE IS NOTHING about Mega Monday which “belongs to we” in Dr Jo-anne Tull’s estimation.
She holds no grudges against Sanctuary and his 2014 smash hit, but the academic coordinator and lecturer in the carnival studies unit at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies thinks Kadooment is the name best suited for our jump-up day.
“We have to be careful we don’t go too far left or right so that people don’t know what is Kadooment, because it is like we toying with a new name, Mega Monday. It is still Kadooment Day,” Jo-anne told Easy magazine in an interview recently, at her Christ Church family home.
“The more contemporary bands [also] need to be careful . . . where they become so divorced they are not being a guardian of the culture. [Contemporary bandleaders] may not see themselves as the guardians of the culture, and I am not saying that they are, but once you are a stakeholder in something, there is a social responsibility [to it].”
Surveying Barbados’ just-concluded season as both consumer and ever the academic, she has expressed the overall importance of all stakeholders to become stricter guardians of our heritage and firmer craftsmen of Crop Over’s fate. She talked about measures to ensure that mas’ is within everyone’s reach. This year, the prices to play mas’ in some bands set tongues wagging, with one section of a mas’ band costing as much as US$1 800.
“Price will always be a problem and I don’t think that is a good thing because it creates a kind of elite carnival,” she asserted. “What I was told is that VAT is on the [costumes] and I don’t know if that is what drives up the price, but I think that there should be some consideration for its removal so [the price] is easier on the consumer.”
Stressing that price regulation was not the way to go, she suggested that governments could offer incentives to traditional bands so bandleaders could pass on the savings.
“But that is in an economy where you are doing well. These are not things you can expect a government to do at this time, but it would encourage innovation. If a traditional band operates as a cottage band and is under the auspices of the government because it is seen as a heritage product and they are getting subsidy for what they are making it would encourage those who are into culture to come into those [traditional] bands because the costumes would be $300 instead of $800. It also forces the contemporary bands to deal with the vagaries of the market . . . .”
Foreday Morning could also do with some protection – against itself. The Queen’s College alumna said that the Barbadian answer to J’ouvert needed to be seen as, managed and harnessedas a malleable product.
“I think there may be a little bit of institutional memory that recalled when you first wanted to do it that they were naysayers, so [now] whoever wants to come you let them come . . . We have passed that, because there is a product and people are signing up every year to go on the streets and people are getting work out of it . . . . What we have to focus on is how we mould and shape that and that it doesn’t take over the Kadooment Day,” she said.
“The answer is not to regulate either, because you have to let the mas’ do what it wants to do. It is a delicate balance and the way how I see it is if I see it as a product I can do what I want to it or I can adjust it how I think is best without tarnishing the culture.”