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Trinidad and Tobago: A Melting Pot of Cultural Fascination! Land of the Limbo, Steelpan, Calypso, Rapso & Soca Music!


Apr 4, 2013

Can An Honest Politician Save Trinidad & Tobago's Culture?

The following article was written by Sandopc:

Honesty and Politics is like oil and water but what if we can find an honest politician who, after stirring the pot, can cause it all to blend in and create something never seen before. Can we find an honest politician who can harness the creativity of our people and create an environment that would allow our culture to blossom? If this could happen we could very well end up with something special that people would flock to be a part of and even put money in the pockets of our singers, musicians and every creative person who adds to the genius of Trinidad and Tobago's culture... if only?

My introduction was just a dream but now I am awake and have to ask this question, What caught your attention? Is it the juxtaposition of Honesty with politician? I know you are there an honest politician anywhere? Particularly in TnT? Well I am sure there is or at least there could be one. It is a long and winding road to find him/her.  We often talk about sweet, sweet TnT, “we culture”, our independence and love up yuh country. But where are the visible signs of this Love? Where are the signs of this love of culture. OK, OK, OK, I know, for one or two weeks, every year, we can find it with the presence of Carnival. The culture comes out of hiding, the love comes out from the nation's bowel and we show the world ...we culture.

Screech, did I say world? Well it may be more like the TnT people living in foreign countries. The friends of these TnT people, out of curiosity, may also tune in to find out what the hype is all about. Do you think that they really get to see the creativity of Trinidadians on display? Hell no! They see Beads and bikinis, disorganized Panorama competitions, delays in Mas Presentation, endless quarrels over cash awards to the participants, incompetent judging and live streaming TV that is often interrupted by technical difficulties - just endless frustrations. That is just a short list of the headaches that compromise the selling of our culture to the World. The list of 'commess” goes on and on until the 2 weeks of feting and celebrating the festival ends and all is forgotten until next year. The next year will arrive with great anticipation and expectation for a grand festival then its  Déjà vu!

If Carnival was historically ascending to the highest highs it is now descending to its lowest level. Too many costume bands have embraced the new concept. That concept is one based on beads, bikinis; the idea is to use less to maximize their profit margin. The result is that creativity is sacrificed. No longer do we see the continuance or amplification of Saldena (Glory that was Greece), or Teddy Eustace''dancing” his spectacular costume on the stage. George Bailey portraying “Back to Africa”. Cito Velasquez playing “Fruits and Flowers”, a fancy sailor bands. The tribal bands of San Fernando with band leader Owen Hinds. People like Horace Lovelace and Jason Griffith from Belmont who produced some of the best fancy sailor mas ever!

Rumor has it that we are taking and utilizing what is considered 'the best' or most sought after of other carnivals around the world. Hence the Bikini and Beads seen on the Samba dancers of Rio de Janiero. Do they know  that the Samba dancers in the “Escola” represent a tiny portion of the 3,000 or more participants in that one band?  Do they know that no one touches the samba dancers except their respective  partners. Only the Samba dancers have the Beads and Bikini that we seem to favor. Of course it is sexy and eye-catching. Most people in Trinidad are unaware that the other participants are divided into groups, each of them depicting a story within the overall presentation? And their costumes are uniform and intricate. Think about that, it is much like what we used to see here in TnT before we went crazy and had our “sexy” costumes mass produced in Asian countries.

We have degenerated into a bikini and a beaded bra. Correct sizes optional. Some masqueraders have white sneakers, some blue, some black. Some have boots, some have flat shoes, and all are “freeing up”. Other Carnivals could appear to be too rigid for the average TnT masquerader however they still have a vision. We don't have to be rigid as the others and parade as they do. We can “free up” and still have the vision. But now, what do we have, we have an absence of any historical relationship between the costume and the presentation. Beads, bikini and two feathers. New Orleans Carnival have intricate floats and individual costumes. We can maintain our own unique style of Carnival without band leaders selling out to the $ bill. We can maintain, promote and amplify our art to the extent that we inherited from the masters. Too few band leaders are willing to do this. I applaud the few that have tried and continue to achieve that lofty goal.

So, what to do? How can this be corrected? Do we even want to correct it or build on our history?  How do we breathe life into a “culture” for more than a meaningful two week period? What if there was one Honest Politician who could dedicate himself to a project. Honest, because the project would require monies to be spent, land to purchase, buildings to erect, people to hire, and professionals to implement the vision. To do all this without falling back on the accepted way of doing business in TnT. The business of “who yuh know”, who getting a share of the money, who getting paid off, who getting a job because they are friends with the “big boys”.
A vision of creating  Academies of Performing Arts, one in the North, one in the South.  Unique schools that promote...”we culture”. An Academy where the History of Carnival, Steel Band Music, conventional Instrumental Music, techniques of Pan Construction, Management and contracts, Mas Presentation, Costume Design, Drawing, Floats and Headpiece construction, Song and Dance, creative writing courses illuminating our history, theater, along with the traditional Math, History and English courses found in regular schools.

A vision of hiring the many gifted people already involved in...”we culture”. The people who we only read about or interact with during the Carnival season. Hire and pay them on a permanent basis to teach, to inspire, to document the history and the “know how” behind these disciplines. Have visiting “Masters” on a paid one week basis to motivate and share their knowledge and experiences. An Academy where there is an Interview process and evaluation. Interview the students who wish to attend this government sponsored institute. Ensure they are dedicated to the goal of the school. Ensure they represent the School in a positive manner. Change the testing where we assign pupils Grades from First to Last. Have them earn an A.B.C.D or F in their individual subject, where they can identify the next level for improvement.  Assist them with planning a curriculum tailored with their desire and the schools' ability to meet those desires. Find an Administrator who understands and shares the vision. Does the current pan in schools satisfy this? It may aspire to achieve those goals but fall way short of the finish line.

So who are the stake-holders in this process? How about the artists and talented people who typically wait for Carnival to demonstrate their abilities only for two weeks. If we can achiever our lofty goals they have a year round  profession. The steel pan players who can instruct, should receive a salary that should help motivate them to make a more meaningful contribution to “we culture”. Then there are the dance and theater professionals who can reach young impressionable minds. The students who drop out of regular schools because they have no interest in traditional subjects and the students who have a burning desire to pursue an art form along with their regular studies. The Local steel bands who can recommend students and receive qualified returning students. Students who can read and write music. Students who now know the intricacies about Mas design and presentation. Students who can compose and perform both Soca, calypso and other musical genres. We should also get the Tourist Board involved in the process and they, in turn, can point out with pride, their involvement in the culture of sweet Trinidad and Tobago.
We can't forget the parents  who can take pride in the enrichment of their children's involvement in the arts. There will be so many shows to attend when these graduates show what they can do throughout the academic year. The same Tourist board who can then market “we culture” to the world and show them that the culture of TnT exists year round, not only the two week period of Carnival. The local TV studios who can have periodic productions of local “Auntie Kay” shows but with a professional slant. The various Businesses that can offer Internship to the senior students within the area of Fine Arts, Drawing and Architecture, or Band performances.

It may sound like a dream but it is possible! We need an honest politician to make this happen. A Politician who would not sell out. A politician who values “we culture” and is patriotic to the country and the culture. A Politician who sees the vision and not the $ sign. A politician who will tell his friends in the business world...not this time. Sorry, this piece of food is strictly for the country and our children. Are you that person? If you are or think that you know someone who can make it happen then don't sit on the side lines get involved and make it happen... you may save a nation!


Mar 30, 2013

How Yuh Goin'? Goin' Good! | Yuh Is Ah Trini

Damn right I am a Trini and one who loves the way we speak. I am so amused, at times, when I hear my fellow country citizens speak here in New York City. It simply does not sound or feel right. Sometimes I mention to them that they simply don't sound Trini anymore and they appear to be pleased that they don't! Well I am not of that pedigree, I believe that we sound awesome when we speak and especially when we use our Trini Idioms.

The way we speak is so special and the way we twist words and phrases around add to the the delight I hear when Trinidadians speak. I simply love it and always take the opportunity to try and explain what the phrase means when I see the look of confusion on the other person's face. Recently I realized that many Trinidadians can't explain some of the phrases. I know that is real because it is my experience with many Trinidadians and also because there are a few that I have to call back home to get an explanation from those in the know.

Today I am going to explain a very simple one but one that is used daily by just about every Trinidadian even those whom are so willing to shed their twang for the American style dialect. Today we are dealing with the phrase "How Yuh Goin' and the response, Going Good". Say it and then think about it. I am sure you have said it many times but never gave thought to the meaning or how another person may perceive the meaning of the phrase. This is your opportunity... say it again and verbalize it with a loud voice. Listen to yourself then say the meaning and put it in context.

Ah ha... does it mean 'how are you going' as in 'is everything OK with you'? Yes or no? Maybe it could mean 'how are you going' as in what mode of transportation that you intend to use to get from one place to another! Now you can understand why I love the way we speak - Trinidadians, my people, speak so sweetly. When you listen it is like music to a song and it rolls off our tongues and lips with such ease.

Two friends, who have not seen each other for some time, meet and great each other. One says, "How yuh going" and the other readily responds with "Going good'. Right there and them both parties smile, shake hands or embrace each other knowing that everything is just fine. The conversation may then take them to a place where they could sit and lime for a while and catch up on the things they both encountered since they last saw each other.

On the other hand we have two friends who made plans to go to an event or simply go and lime in a club, bar or fete that may be in another town that requires some form of transportation. The conversation may go like this. "How yuh going?" The response may be, "Going good" but the other person may reply, "that is good but I meant how are you going to the venue". The response may be, "Well I was hoping that I could mop ah drop with you"!

Now don't you think that the way we speak is something special?  I never, ever want to loose the way I speak regardless of what people may thing of my sentence structure - what ever! So for you bogus Trinis reading this - how yuh like meh now?


Mar 29, 2013

Sacrificial Lambs In The Society | The Lion & The Politician!

An article written by Sandopc...

"Yuh Think It Easy"... that was my previous posting on this blog and as I reflect on this religious week I realized that many decisions that we make daily are not easy at all! Taking that into consideration I pondered on something I read (about an unfortunate situation in Africa) and it dawned on me that our politicians in Trinidad and Tobago are no different from the Lion in that article. They (the politicians) think that it is very ease to dupe the public. From these thoughts the following article is presented for your reading pleasure. 

This is Holy Week for Christians all over the World; and for many it is considered a time for reflection. It is a time to reflect about thoughts of what it means to sacrifice for the greater good and, because of this reflection, rings a bell in our inner being. Christians all over the world remember, many years ago, a man laid down his life for many so that the “many” could live to see a brighter day. Obviously this was not easy for a normal man but then again Jesus, the Christ was not an ordinary man. Having said that,  I am sure his sacrifice, with his human weaknesses intact, was not an easy task. Some of us make sacrifices for

On this memorable day my reflection brought me to a safe place of reflection about our purpose on this earth. It made me think of a newspaper article I read recently. I do believe that it was a story based on fact - a true story. It was about a man and woman, both residents of South Africa who decided to have a little “get together”. For whatever reason, they walked into the bushes surrounding their village. I guess they wanted some privacy. It should become apparent that the bush in Africa is not like a walk in the park here in Trinidad. Unfortunately the couple were attacked by a Lion and at that point human instinct took control ... decisions had to be made on the fly. This, no doubt, was a life and death situation.

The man had to make a quick decision. Is is easy to conceive that he could have fought the Lion and save both lives (including his)? It is obvious that they were both scared and shocked and, because of that fear, not act and lose their lives. The story becomes a bit muddled at this point, the man ran naked back to the village. Obviously he left the woman behind. I am sure that some part of him thought... run and get help, 'yuh cud save de woman'! Let's be clear here, chivalry, self-preservation, all these thoughts brought a new life to his legs. This could be considered human instinct and the 'fright or flight' instinct took over his being. There is a term in Trinidad that is commonly used, "Boughtupcy", the kind we learn from our grand-ma tried to slow him down. In this case, 'broughtupsy' lost. What would you have done in this situation? I am very aware that this is such and unfair question to ask but think about it.  Yuh think it easy! There is so much to consider  and with your heart pounding to get out of your chest not to mention your legs touching nothing but air, you run. Yuh run like hell!

In this case the the man ran to the village and then returned with some people. They returned armed to the teeth and with guns to take care of the Lion!  However, I guess you have already guessed the outcome, the lady was already history. No one knows what happened except that she lost the battle to survive. The lion had eaten and left. She must have put up a fight but the outcome was quite obvious - she could not run as fast as the man or the Lion simply did not bother to chase him since he had an easy prey in sight.  Talk about choices. In Trinidad and Tobago, thank God, we don't have Lions devouring the people even though there are situations that feel the same. Our forests never had Lions but there are people,in the society, who act like the Lion! We have other animals and some people or politicians that act on their 'animal instincts'. In the forest we have animals like the 'Lappe, Tatoo, Agouti, Mannicou' and others. Wild meat ! With rum and callaloo on a Sunday we cud have a good lunch if they come close to attacking. We don't have to prove chivalry. We could protect the woman if we were stupid enough to take them in the bush for privacy.

Thank God, we don't have real Lions here in 'sweet TnT'. We never have to make choices that affect us like the one made by that gentleman. The decisions we make affect people around us in many ways. As an example,  take the politicians we have in Trinidad and Tobago. They never cease to surprise me and I am sure the rest of the country. In many ways they are like the Lion that devoured that hapless lady her friend left in the bushes. One gets the feeling that as soon as they get into office their thought process is like that of the Lion - waiting for a prey. The corruption is subtle in some areas but brazen in other areas of the society and government. One gets the feeling that they are constantly  trying to devour the people. In other words they are there to “eat ah food” and leave. The corruption is all over you like clinging clothes on a very humid day... nothing but pure exploitation. Total and downright ineptitude; they are fake Lions but the outcome is the same - they will devour you! To compound the situation they invite their friends to “ eat ah piece ah food” then they leave.

These fake Lions roar and try to frighten or fool the  people. I don't see or sense any sacrifice made by politicians but they continue to made their false promises. I don't see them sacrificing for the greater good. I don't see any form of reflection. All I see are families sacrificing, every day, to make a brighter day for they children. I guess it is good to be the King of the Jungle especially when the rewards fill their pockets with illegally obtained bounty!

Reflect on this day on the greater good and ensure that your shared sacrifices are for the greater good and not to fulfill your selfish desires...Yuh think it easy !!

This article came from the neurons of my friend Sandopc. It was my pleasure to bring his thoughts to you here on this blog - Santiwah.


Mar 27, 2013

Yuh Eh Know That? | Written by Sandopc | Yuh Is Ah Trini

This is a guest post from a friend who frequently visits the Wack Radio chat box. We were chatting about expressions used in the homeland one night and from that conversation he wrote the following article. Today I present the post done by a gentleman who likes to be called Sandopc.

In Trinidad and Tobago we have a unique way of saying something when we want to express how we feel about a given subject. That expression can take several forms that will surely be misunderstood by someone who is not familiar with the culture especially how we apply our triniidions while conversing with a friend, acquaintance or family member.

Non Trinidadians will be utterly confused. As an example, I have three sayings that we regularly use on a daily basis. Here they are:
  • You think he wicked (in joke)?
  • They mad like Hell
  • You eh know that ?
I know they are simple phrases but when used in conversation they take on meanings that would confuse a foreigner but make a Trini smile or sometimes cringe during the conversation. Today I only want to try and explain and poke holes in the last one. The rest of my 'Trini' friends (citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are called Trinis) can go ahead and explain the first two expressions in the post. So what do we really mean when we say... "Yuh eh know dat?" (You eh know that)? Let's 'tawk ah tawk' and discover the sweetness of one of our Trini Idioms.

In any discussion between two or more Trinidadians you will certainly hear the following expression one or more times..."You eh know that?" This common expression is used when the person speaking wants to express a personal  point of view, a general understanding of an accepted “fact”. As an example they could be engrossed in a discussion about steriods and cover the subject from A to Z after which someone would utter a statement that would cause the other to remark, "you eh know that?" It is said in such a manner that it is a statement and a question all wrapped in one tight rebuke because the topic was thoroughly discussed and did not warrant the statement made by one party in the conversation.

In short, the facts in the conversation are spoken with confidence but the statements made are said without any factual evidence. Evidence is usually written or documented somewhere or accepted from a reputable source or a qualified professional. Not in the eh know that...crowd. We use the expression strictly as evidence, everybody should know that already. And this brings up another point...we trinis have a tendency of not committing anything to paper to properly document the facts or process around any generally 'accepted things'. Here is a good and very common example: “This “bush tea” good for you sickness, yuh hear, now drink de damn ting”.

Right there and then you are puzzled but cannot show that you are while thinking... How do I know that? What is the process? You sure you remember the correct dose? Like the Black Stalin said in song... what is the right temperature to “sink” a pan? What is the right thickness. Where is the document for making a pan? Of course the answer is ... 'you eh know that'! However, in this case it is a factual statement.

Sometimes when you hear the expression you stop and think... maybe I am the only one who eh know that! As a result you pretend and accept the statement without fact or even asking a question. How sweet it would be if we document the things that we all take for granted. Explain why it is and how it is and the origin of what it is. Now that would be just right - Sweet. How about a book illustrating these things and ensuring that the children have a good understanding how these terms are used. The school system should come in play and ensure that these Trini Idioms are taught and that the children can properly disciminate the statements when used in conversation.

Long ago,our people passed on acquired knowledge through word of mouth. Generally the elders would remember and pass the “history” down to the children. Today's world with an ever expanding radius takes away the closeness that we enjoyed back then. So,we know the “history” in vague terms and when we try to explain it to someone we stumble and then we eh know that?

I hope that this posting was helpful and that you enjoyed reading the article. Please don't hesitate to leave your remarks via the comment feature of this blog post - Sando/Santiwah.


Oct 13, 2012

Laventille, Then & Now | My Perspective | Part 4

Part 4:  Laventille, Then & Now | My Perspective | San Diego Lee

I was wondering about the best way to close this segment about how life was on the hill 'back in the day'; I decided that the following is the way to go. I had a dream last night and in that dream there was this beautiful African lady sitting on a bench slumped over with the palms of her hands covering her face. When I approached her I realised that she was someone I knew when I was a child. Her name is Laventille and there she was crying and bemoaning how her friends have all given her such a bad name... a reputation that she feared could not be easily corrected.

She told me that she feared that the sickness that have tainted her friends and made them zombies of ill will will forever ruin her reputation. She claimed that the reality of today was not the way it used to be, so many years ago, but most people thought that was the case. She was sad and sullen and even though I tried to console her I realized that her love for the hill and the life she lived, so many years ago, may have been lost forever. I woke up in a sweat and could not breathe. I felt Laventille's pain but I am lost regarding what can be done to save the name of a place that was once my child hood playground.

Laventille has a very bad reputation today; but did you know that is the same way people, who did not live in the area, thought about the people on the Hill when I was a child? However, that is not the Laventille I knew as a child. That bad reputation was so far away from the truth in those days. I am not stating this here today simply to make the Laventille of years ago look good. I am making the statement because it was the truth; to state it simply, Laventille was not different from any other area in Trinidad. The reputation and bad name given to the 'Hill' was not reality during the period of my youth.

As an example, I can recall that on any carnival Monday or Tuesday (to emphasize the point) one could have walked through Laventille and realized that place was a ghost town! I bet ninety-nine  percent (99%) of the residents were in Port of Spain frolicking and having a good time.  Do you think that homes were truly secured then? People were not worried about thefts or home break-ins. Normally, a few  older folks were at home and a very few folks who didn’t give a 'blue-tooth' about carnival carried on like it was just another day on the hill. The point is that everyone felt safe and were not worried about losing valuables; believe me that is the way it used to be during that period.

I am not saying that the society was free of thieves or the odd fool who would commit a dumbfounded act but everyone knew the  fowl thieves in the neighborhood. To be honest I am sure they were playing mass or in 'Town' (City of Port-of-Spain) drinking rum.  Yes, I know what you are thinking but the point I want to make is that there were no break-ins. Laventille then and today from what I have been hearing, is like night and day. As a child, I knew of two killings in Laventille, one was a love thing and the other one was probably a disagreement between two guys.

There were people of all walks of life living on the 'Hill' from my recollections. As an example, we had neighbors who were cops, fire men, army men, postal workers, teachers and nurses. As you can see there were people who worked with the government and people who were career oriented.  The so called badjohns never interfered with regular people. They gambled and had disputes amongst themselves. They had melees from time to time with their counterparts from other areas but never molested the villagers.  If as a kid you disrespected an elderly person and one of the so called 'badjohn' was around you were guaranteed to get a 'tap' (on your head) and a warning to always respect 'your elders'.

The church was also central to life on the 'Hill'; about six months out of a year the Catholic Church in Laventille had a mass on the 13th day of those months.  Parishioners from all over the country participated in a pilgrimage up the hill to that mass. They accessed Laventille from all areas.   No one bothered those people.  In my experience an accusation is worst than the truth/that which is a fact. Laventille was not what people thought it was, now it is and probably worst (just ask someone living there today). However, that's just the way it was in a lot of areas in Trinidad.

There are still many things to be said about my experiences growing up on the 'Hill'; however, those are stories for another day. Maybe I will find the time to write about the riots with a gang from the Tokyo (steelband) strong-hold - that is an interesting story!

I believe after reading my story you may walk away thinking the following: Laventille was a normal neighborhood that was given an over-rated reputation for being a place full of badjohns and violence. One thing that you learnt was that Desperadoes defended itself and people, when provoked.  How about the fact that Desperadoes in those days were two bands during the off season, but became one united band for carnival. I will bet anything that there are residents in Laventille who do not know this! It was just a matter of time that the bands really separated. It happened and the upper half was renamed 'Serenaders'. I remember that during their first two years as an independent band they played sailor mass successfully and had large followings. When this happened, Desperadoes suffered as a mass band and was reduced in size for a few short years. 'Serenaders' was one of those bands that broke up and restarted several times.  However, Desperadoes became a force, an institution of the 'Hill' and on several occasions were panorama champions and triple crown winner to add to its many victories and storied existence.

I am sure that today that despite all the strife and tribulation and ill faithed name 'Lady Laventille' can finally find something to be proud about... I wiped away her tears and reminded her that not everything is lost. There is still cause for hope because without hope there is nothing!


Sep 27, 2012

Laventille, Trinidad | Part 3

Part 3: Laventille, Then & Now | Steel Band Clash 1959 | Desperadoes & San Juan All Stars | Information provided by San Diego Lee | Written by Santiwah!

This story is about the infamous Steelband clash that took place between Desperadoes and San Juan All Stars. San Juan All Stars had the reputation of being the 'badjohn' band of all steel bands. However, as you read my story you would see that every dog has his day and every 'badjohn' eventually gets his 'cutarse' aka a good beating... as they say in Trinidad "what eh meet yuh eh pass yuh". This story was put together from stories I was told as a child. I was very young but this story was told in every nook and cranny on the hill. I hope you enjoy this piece about Desperadoes of Laventille.

It was one of those years (1959) when Desperadoes played a pretty mass called “Noah’s Ark”. Now just about everyone knows the story of Noah and his Ark. Well this was the year that Desperadoes decided to give that story some life on the streets of Port-of-Spain. Just let your imagination take flight and think of the bible in living color but in this scenario as a carnival presentation.  Carnival presentations were very fancy long ago and in this story Desperadoes decided to bring just about every character to life. Now if you think of the Ark and every animal that was in it you can imagine the creative juices coming into play...a lot of hard work went into that presentation with the Ark as the center piece and the characters around the Ark.

Let your mind drift for a moment and  visualize about 1500 to 2000 masqueraders with all those characters, the animals,shepherds with their shepherd stick, beggars with their bag of belonging hanging on the end of a club stick, characters with long staff sticks and so on.  One of the main presentation was to release white birds representing the doves from the great flood when the band reached on stage at the Queens Park Savannah.This was the plan and the stage was set with what was considered to be one of the biggest bands to his the stage at the Savannah.

Now Desperadoes route usually is to come down the hill straight down Prince street and head first to Marine Square now called “Independence Square” which was the first judging point. After leaving this area they played and masqueraded until they got back at the foot of the Laventille road and Piccadilly street. This time they took to get to this point was around mid day. This meant it was time for a break to have lunch. After lunch they it was mas again and the chipping to the music took the band across Piccadilly street and then a right turn on Charlotte street that was the final stretch that lead straight to the Savannah. This was the time to play your self and enjoy your mas and nothing could stop that.

However, on the day, as faith will have it that route taken by Desperadoes became historic for what took place on that faithful afternoon. On that day San Juan All Stars (known as the 'badjohn' band) came to "town" (Port-of-Spain). Their presentation that yeas was a war mass (Battle Cry)and by all accounts they were looking for trouble. They were en-route to the Savannah taking the same route as Despers. Now just behind Desperadoes was Tokyo playing a sailor mass (sailor mas was very popular during this period and flour bags were in great demand). San Juan All Stars broke the formation of Tokyo and went straight through their band (that is Tokyo). Tokyo came out to play mas and did not want to fight, even though San Juan All Stars destroyed their mas presentation. They let them through, knowing full well who was in front - that band from Laventille was no push over and with the attitude of San Juan All Stars on that memorable day trouble was about to meet trouble... it resulted in the most memorable steel band clash in the history of Trinidad.

Just let your imagination take control and see the bands in play. San Juan All Stars,after crashing through Tokyo, was now between Desperadoes and Tokyo and they tried to break the formation of Desperadoes. That was a big mistake... all hell broke loose! San Juan All Stars Was demolished, their own weapons they had hiding in their tanks was turned on them. The women and children of Desperadoes were placed in the Ark for protection when the fighting was in progress(it really turned out to be a refuge just like Noah's Ark of the Bible). Think of all those shepherd’s sticks, staff sticks, beggars clubs and who knows what else was used to beat back San Juan All Stars.  As San Juan All Stars started to retreat they were now blocked by Tokyo with no place to run.  From accounts from eye witnesses, bloodied  members from All Stars were thrown over the General Hospital’s fence and some accounts stated that some badly busted up San Juan Allstars members were pushed through the gates of the hospital for medical care.

On that infamous day not even the vendors escaped the clash.  The vendors who are on side walk selling all kinds of bottled drinks either lost their supplies to people looking for something to throw or they used them as they too got involved in the fracas.  All those bottled drinks and empty bottles were used as projectiles. After all was said and done and those who were not wounded on Desperadoes side of the clash reformed and went on to the Savannah. I guess they did not forget to deliver the great spectacle of the release of the 'white doves' from the ark as planned.  That was the one year that Desperadoes expected to win band of the year for their presentation of such a fantastic theme.

Please be advised that I don't possess any knowledge regarding when or how that memorable fracas stopped; after all, I was just ah little child. As I mentioned before this account was told  as we limed on the street corners of  Laventille. This collective story came from relatives, neighbors and friends and folks who were there and either participated in the fighting or were simply there as onlookers.

I had a brief discussion with one of my dear friends in WACK radio shout box about this clash and was surprised to learn (from our conversation) that her uncle was involved in the clash but as a  member of  San Juan All Stars!  It should be very interesting to hear someone speak about the San Juan experience. I am sure we will hear about the 'buss heads' that were inflicted by the San Juan side. This is as much as I can recall and it was told from a Laventille perspective (Despers experience). Of course the story would have a different slant when told from the San Juan All Stars perspective.

Next - Part 4: Laventille, Then & Now | My Perspective 


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