Catholic And Orisha 'Mas In Carnival

I came across this very interesting excerpt yesterday in the book by Frances Henry - "Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad: The Socio-Political Legitimation of the Orisha and Spiritual Baptist Faiths." published by UWI Press in 2003. I did not see any mention of this event in the articles which I have been collecting on the recent and ongoing debate about the launching earlier this year of the Catholic Church's Band. It is a pity because it would have added different and interesting perspectives. Thank you, Frances Henry for documenting this event.

[p. 185] -- "Orisha “Mas” in Carnival: “401 meets 2001”

The Background

Shrine leader, Brother Oludari Massetungi, whose African-oriented philosophy was described at length in chapter 5, became the centre of a new controversy that pitted his organization, the Egbe Onisin Eledumare, against that of the National Council of Orisha Elders. Oludari has, for a number of

[p. 186] -- years, thought about bringing out a mas band for Carnival, but his efforts only came to fruition in 2001. Beginning the planning as late as December 2000, the shrine and its active members nevertheless managed to design, develop and organize a Carnival presentation in time for 26–27 February 2001. It was entitled “401 meets 2001”; 401 signifies the number of Orisha deities in the traditional Yoruba pantheon.

Oludari and his shrine are on the margins of the more traditional Orisha mainstream, largely because he subscribes to a fully Yoruba-oriented worship devoid of any vestiges of Christianity. His shrine and its members, many of whom are young people, participate in council activities to some extent but the group basically runs to its own agenda. While this is in keeping with the atomized and individual nature of Orisha shrines and their leaders, his is particularly distinguished by their total dedication to the “African sacred sciences”. In this regard, his shrine is similar to that of Patricia McCleod - both of whom were earlier identified as Afrocentricists who are motivated primarily by spiritual and doctrinal commitments to the Yoruba Orisha, as compared to other African-oriented innovators inspired primarily by political and ideological dynamics. Oludari and McCleod do share, however, the need to identify with their African origins and cultural heritage, for which the Yoruba-derived Orisha religion provides the ideal forum.

The decision to mount a Carnival mas met with criticism, especially from the National Council of Orisha Elders. Their opprobrium is contained in the following letter sent to shrine leader Oludari and to the Express newspaper:
The Council of Orisa Elders wishes to advise it is viewing with grave concern the developing trend of disrespect for the religion in the Carnival arena. The council is mindful of the strong links between the religion and the evolution of the mas. This was at a time when the Carnival was the sole means of public expression for an otherwise persecuted belief system … the Council of Orisa Elders now invokes the wrath of all the Orisa on all who dare feature any Carnival characters named after the Orisa. It views any incorporation of the Orisa into Carnival as an attack on the sacredness of the religion … The present Carnival no longer includes the elements of African spirituality, with which it was imbued in its earlier years. We respect and give recognition to all those elders of the mas and the pan, who bravely expressed their religion in the Carnival, at a time when it was illegal to do so at any other time. It is the view of the council though, that such a forum is now no longer suitable or necessary.

[p. 187] -- (signed: Babalorisha Sam Phills, Chairman, for and on behalf the two chief shrine leaders, Iyalorisha Rodney and Babalorisha Forde and three other members of the council)
The media has, thus far, not taken a stand on the issue. However, a long article by Leroy Clarke was published in the Trinidad Guardian. In it, Clarke takes a generally positive position, saying, “The advent of this perfomance can be viewed objectively as a ritual of utterance meant to revisit and re-evaluate our social practices, in this case, mask or mas playing.” Oludari himself believes that it is important to bring the cosmic and spiritual energy of the Orisha into a Carnival that has become too secularized. It is an attempt, in his view, to regenerate Carnival and bring it back to what it was in earlier times. He believes that the distinction between the sacred and secular is too rigid and that the Orisha and their energy are part of nature and permeate all of social life. Carnival, as part of the social life of the country, is therefore an appropriate arena for the display of Orisha powers. Gordon Rohlehr makes much the same point when he notes that “the unity of secular and sacred existed in many traditional African societies and was part of what was lost or obscured in the New World encounter between African systems of thought, belief and performance and Manichean Christian, particularly Calvinist Protestant modes of perception”.

Another member of the Egbe group supports the mas because “within us all the Orisa are present … and the portrayal of nine Orisa deities will liberate the awesome power of the cosmos to help reestablish the equilibrium and balance in our nation as we resanctify Carnival”. Oludari and his members emphasize that their decision was sanctioned through the divination processes of Ifa. As one of its members stated, “Nothing is done without the blessing of Ifa. When [we are] in doubt about what to do [we] do divination. This was authorised by higher forces than ourselves.”

The decision to play an Orisha mas in Carnival is not really new. Orisha, or Shango bands as they were once known, paraded through the streets of southeast Port of Spain in earlier times. Older Trinidadians, now in their seventies and eighties and raised in this area of the city during the 1930s, clearly remember that they were sometimes accompanied by steelbands “when they came down from the hills”. They also recalled that mothers would take their children inside and close their windows when these bands passed because they were afraid of the obeah that Shango people were believed to practise.

[p. 188]-- Despite the earlier tradition, the decision to mount a Carnival band in 2001 brought out some of the ideological and doctrinal differences, further illustrating the conflict between authenticity and syncretism already discussed. This controversy provides more evidence that such doctrinal divisions are evident in the practice of the Orisha religion today.

The Mas

The band consisted of about forty members, most of them younger supporters of the shrine. It was registered in all of the events of Carnival, including Jouvert, Monday night mas and the Parade of Bands on Tuesday. Its Jouvert portrayal was called “A Tribute to Piparo” and featured a number of members wearing mud-stained pareos and head ties and mud decorations on their faces. Oludari was with the band, carrying two African sacred staffs in his hands. Painting the body in mud is a traditional feature of Jouvert Carnival bands and is called “mud mas”.

Piparo is the name of a village in southern Trinidad where small, but occasionally active, mud volcanoes are located. What distinguished this group from ordinary “mud mas”, however, was the way in which it was made to relate to the Orisha religion.

Brother Oludari stated that “this is a tribute to Aganyu, the primeval Orisha god of volcanoes and a fitting way to begin the Carnival”.

A ritual initiated each event; prayers, offerings and thanks were made to the Orisha. Chanting and songs were also part of the ritual. On Monday evening, for example, the band played a Monday night mas. A small group of twelve members assembled in a park in Woodbrook, Port of Spain, the centre of many Carnival activities. Some were in their complete Orisha costumes, others in partial costume. The women portrayed Oya, Oshun and Yemanja; the men Eshu, Shango, Ogun and Orunmila. The band also included the “unformed”, played by young children. The costumes used the colours of the deities as researched by Oludari and therefore differed somewhat from their portrayal in the more conventional Orisha Ebos or feasts. At about 9 p.m. the group formed a circle, holding hands, around a flagpole. Oludari placed a small calabash of water, one of seeds and a bottle of sweet oil on the floor. He was holding an African sculpture staff, possibly an Eshu dance staff from Nigeria, that he used throughout the ritual. Libations were made, followed by the ritual blessing of people past and present. Aiding in

[p. 189]-- the ritual was another Orisha elder, Esmond King, who has an extensive background and knowledge of the early steelband movement and Carnival mas, who specifically called the names of many individuals who played significant roles in the popular culture of an earlier era. People living and dead, all African people, elders and the nation as a whole were included in the blessings, each of which was accompanied by a few drops of water sprinkled from the calabash onto the ground. Singing and drumming followed. The band was awaiting the arrival of their steelband accompaniment that failed to arrive in time, so the evening ended at this point. The mixture of the sacred and secular - ritualistic celebration versus the worldly and profane Carnival rites - was especially obvious, albeit in a small way, during this event.

As the religious ritual was being celebrated around the flagpole, a steelband of about twenty players atop a flat-bedded truck, surrounded by about one hundred Carnival revellers, several of them white tourists, slowly made their way on the street facing the park. The band was playing an old-fashioned ballad and the people were singing along, many of them holding on to the truck's sides with one hand and managing beer bottles with the other. At one point the two music sounds merged together and created an almost surrealistic, other worldly ambiance. In addition to this particular event, the night sounds were punctuated by the calypsos of the season, particularly those of calypsonian Shadow.

On Carnival Tuesday, the band came out with about forty players. Unlike other Carnival bands, however, they were accompanied by traditional Orisha drummers as well as by the steelband, comprised of younger musicians who had agreed to play despite the controversy created by this event. They did not play the calypsos of the season but concentrated on those composed by the late and great calypsonian, Lord Kitchener. They also played ballad music. The participants danced with the traditional movements of the Orisha deities, resting now and then with the small “chip” movement moving to the music. They did not “wine” - the sensual and erotic hip and pelvic gyrations that are the conventional movement of Carnival merrymaking. Even at competition points, they played their own music interspersed once or twice with the Yoruba Orisha singing of Ella Andall.

Most Carnival bands create a King and Queen of the band, whose costumes are the most elaborate and costly. The Orisha band did not portray a

[p. 190] -- King but they did create a special costume for their Queen. The Queen portrayed Oyeki Meji, one of the sacred scriptures or Odus associated with the Ifa system of divination. The band's press release describes this mas thus: “The invocation of this first Odu is the primary first stage of all initiation ceremonies. It is the portal through which the ancestors may return to share their wisdom with the living.” This Odu symbolizes the female principle, the costume depicted a woman wearing a head tie flowing with straw-like locks, a full skirt in blue and white and a stylized torso displaying large bare breasts. Yellow-white streamers, symbolizing milk, flowed from her breasts. She was entered in the Queen of the Bands competition but did not progress beyond the preliminary stage. In fact, the Trinidad Guardian, reporting on the competition, headlined its article “Orisa Queen fails to impress”. In noting that a calypso singer played the mas, the article reports that the “costume did not resemble any of the other huge, iridescent queens, her blackened, droopy ‘Odo-Oyeku Meji’, who lost a few stringy hair strands, resembling ole mas”. (This refers to the Jouvert mas where ugly, dingy and often-ridiculous costumes are worn.) Its religious significance was clearly not understood by this reporter. The band was not able to cross the grandstand stage at the Savannah, as is customary for all Carnival bands, because the Queen costume was damaged during the course of the day. However, they paraded all day and joined in the other competition venues.

Oludari and his shrine members were pleased with their first entry into Carnival mas and they hoped to bring out a more elaborate and larger band the following year.

In 2001 Patricia McCleod (Iya Shangowummi) and her shrine had also planned to bring out a Carnival mas band because they too had the permission of Ifa, obtained through divination, to do so. It was to have been entitled “Yoruba Cosmology - Faces of Oshun” in honour of the Orisha Oshun but they decided to delay their presentation. Although McCleod too received the same condemning letter as Oludari, she feels that both groups are doing nothing disrespectful to the Orisha religion and, in fact, “the two Iles getting the vision around the same time shows the Orisha was sending a message”.

In 2002 Patricia McCleod did, in fact, mount the “Faces of Oshun”. The band consisted of her shrine members, many of them also young people. The mas camp - a small shop - was located on one of the streets leading off the Savannah. On Carnival Tuesday morning the band of about sixty persons,

[p. 191] -- accompanied by a rhythm band, played their mas. About six pan players (steelband) and their instruments travelled on a small truck, while a bamboo tamboo rhythm section on a wheeled platform was attached to the truck by stout ropes. Bamboo tamboo instruments are hollowed out rods of bamboo, pitched to different levels, that preceded the development of steeldrum or “pan”. The players were dressed in the different faces of the Orisha Oshun, celebrating her femininity as well as different aspects of her power. One very elaborate gold and sequined section called “bangles, beads and combs” portrayed the feminine and beautiful side of Oshun, while green-costumed players demonstrated her earthy qualities. The Orisha Shango also had a prominent role in the band, being shown in several of his manifestations including the “King” of the band, who portrayed Shango as the lord of the skies in the form of giant white eagle.

Mrs McCleod, all of whose decisions were guided by divination, did not take the band through the main competition point, the grandstand at the Savannah, but they did pass the smaller downtown competition points. As well, they traced a route through some of the older areas of the city associated with the historical African slave presence. Throughout the day they were treated respectfully and with interest. Their costumes, which markedly differed from the more commonplace bikini-type costumes of most of the larger Carnival bands today, attracted considerable interest. A few spectators mistook them for “the Minshall band”, referring to mas band leader Peter Minshall, who has for some years developed the most innovative, artistic and creative presentations.

Oludari's Orisha shrine and their participation in the Carnival of 2001 created a controversy between themselves and the National Council of Orisha Elders. (By contrast, the Oshun mas the following year, although also criticized by the council, did not attract as much attention.) The event was played out in the newspapers, thus adding more friction to the situation. In addition to furthering the distance between Oludari's and McCleod's shrines and the shrines represented by the council, however, the event lends support to the ideological and doctrinal differences within the Orisha religion today. It also provides some provocative insights into the nature of public and private ritual, the roles of performance and spectacle in Trinidadian popular culture, and as the growing trend towards minimizing the difference between the sacred and secular.
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"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Changing The World One Child At A Time.


....Strengthening The Nation's Roots.

Partnering with Parlatuvier…Teacher of the year engages the village to raise school children.
By Michelle Loubon
Trinidad and Tobago Guardian | Sun, 2011-02-13 19:13

The small fishing village of Parlatuvier, Tobago, was well represented by Parlatuvier Anglican Primary teacher, Isabel Burris-Paul at Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s, last Saturday. The gala event which celebrated the teacher of the year was hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA).

TTUTA’s president Roustan Job, scores of dignitaries and teachers attended the event. Burris-Paul, 34, graciously accepted the award for her contribution to the Parlatuvier community and its children.She said: “I was a little overwhelmed. But I was also humbled by the experience. I guess if it had to deal with anything, it had to be my track record. I am initiating new things. I try to do things differently. I am active in the school and community.”

She never had any aspirations to become teacher of the year. But paid kudos to the Tobago arm of TTUTA for recognising her outstanding contribution. She said: “The quality of your effort should not depend upon whether your effort is being recognised. I love teaching and I love the students. Teaching consumes your entire life.”

Support from parents, residents

Parlatuvier residents were taught they were stakeholders in the children’s education and holistic development. “I emphasised the need for a lot of parental support, support from the staff and community. I was able to get the community and families involved.” Burris-Paul strove diligently to move the school’s position in the Secondary Entrance Assessment from 39. “Our school moved from 39 to ten. We introduced new classroom initiatives such as board games to improve critical thinking.”

Another grand initiative was Helping Our Past Pupils Excel (Hope). “We would monitor SEA students who graduated to high school. We would keep building on the school, family and community partnership. “A lot of them had issues with self-esteem. We had to ensure a greater chance of success,” added Burris-Paul.

Motivational speakers including Cecille Beckles and former independent senator, Dr Eastlyn Mc Kenzie urged the children to work steadfastly towards their goals and contribute to national development. They also learned Parlatuvier had produced illustrious gentlemen including Caricom Secretary General Dr Edwin Carrington, educator Wilfred Carrington and UWI lecturer Mervyn Elder.

About Burris-Paul

Isabel Burris-Paul had the distinction of attending Parlatuvier Anglican Primary School, too. At eight, she went to live with Emelda Stewart, principal at Parlatuvier Anglican EC and attended Les Couteaux (Winston Bailey’s hometown) Anglican School. While she loved her parents Samuel and Theresa Low-Burris, she grew up at Mt Grace with Stewart.

“She was my mother and mentor and she had no children.” Along with her husband Learie Paul, she lives at Spring Garden . Burris-Paul is a member of the Black Rock Heritage Village Council, writes for the TTUTA’s newspaper and the church’s magazine, Outlook. Reflecting on her spiritual side, she said: “God has brought me through some challenges which I would not have been able to handle without His grace.”

She also thanked profoundly the people who had contributed to the development of her personal and professional life. She attended Bishop’s High School. At university Dr Jerome Delisle was rather instrumental in her success. She graduated from the St Augustine campus with First Class Honours) specialising in Social Studies. She intends to read for a Masters in Education soon. Meanwhile, she is looking forward to attending an Effective Schools Conference at Arizona, USA next month.

Advice for teachers

Quizzed on her advice for teachers, she said: “Don’t be afraid to try new things and unconventional methods to get the students to learn. Once there is determination and that fighting spirit, success would come as sure as night follows day.”

Educators comment:

Parlatuvier principal Aaron Reid said: “The school has been elated. It has strengthened our motivation to proceed further toward our goal.” First vice president of TTUTA)/Teacher of the Year 2010 Devanand Sinanan said: “She is a worthy successor. She will carry the flag well. She is a very good candidate for the post of teacher of the year.”


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A Note From The Gull


Thank you, Isabel Burris-Paul. If I had $2 million dollars lying around, I'd think that a Teacher of the Year would be among the most deserving recipients. I am very proud of you. Parlatuvier is a lucky place. Thanks also to all the teachers who also won awards and all the others in T&T who love what they do and never lose sight, through all the hardships, of the children that they teach and their futures.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

While Our Beds Are Burning...


Every time that I look at this photo above of little Leah Lammy, I have been arrested inevitably by something that she communicates with that expression in her eyes, her smile and her body language. Although she is only a child, there is a maturity in the way in which she has folded her arms to look directly at us. Have you seen it also? I am always left with the impression that Leah has assessed me, has measured me from head to toe and is now calmly, and without any rancour, awaiting my response, challenging me, with something that suggests the amusement of the infinitely wise, to do something, anything, to prove her wrong.

Day before yesterday, yet another of our children went missing. I believe that it is their desperate need to believe that there will be a happy ending that is making the police class this disappearance as a "possible" abduction. I stand firmly with them in their optimism but I want those on the ground to act like raging pessimists in the urgency with which this latest assault is addressed.


Daniel Guerra is eight years old, just like Leah was when she was kidnapped a little over two years ago. Daniel disappeared, like Tecia Henry and Marina Henry, while running an errand, something it seems that no child in this country should henceforth be allowed to do unless accompanied by an adult. As I read about this case, I was thinking of the blow that must have struck Daniel's family and then rippled outwards through all the families in Trinidad and Tobago that have experienced and are still experiencing what Daniel Guerra's family is now going through. I am trying to imagine what Daniel is experiencing. I am thinking about what all the victims went through. It is understandable that many of us want to turn away from this suffering.

While we understand that suffering is part of life, this particular suffering is completely avoidable because it is brought on deliberately by the pure wickedness of some of our brothers and sisters. It is infinitely worse than anything that nature could throw at us.

Life is good. Do not for one second lose sight of that. It is what we human beings make of it that is often beyond comprehension.

Forgive me if I am rambling but there are many thoughts running through my mind and for some reason, I do not want to take the time to organise them before writing.

Last night I fell asleep thinking about Daniel. I could not say for certain that he is lost to us or that it is all a big misunderstanding and he is safe somewhere with people who actually feel that they are doing what is best for him, but I lay awake seeing Gasparillo in my mind on the map and wishing that I could follow him wherever he was being taken. I was as overwhelmed as those who are now searching for him.

Trinidad, as tiny as it is, is not as tiny as a little child in the company of the wicked. Where in the world could he be by now? To the west and to the south are exit points to Venezuela and where else after that? I could only pray that someone among that crew would be a hero and decide to do the right thing. As soon as I got up this morning, I ran to the Internet to see if he had been found. I wondered if his family slept last night.

And Leah's expression continues to haunt me.

I look at her face. She is above all the madness. She is not asking, "When will you find me?" She is saying, "When will you people find yourselves?"


"Me Today, You Tomorrow" - By Shadow. See lyrics.

Great Spirit, bless Leah and Daniel and all our missing persons wherever they may be.
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"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Whether or Not [Spoken Word]

This poem was originally posted on this blog in March of 2006.
Link


WHETHER OR NOT
By Dr. Roi Guanapo Ankhkara Kwabena [2001]

nicole..jomokie..oma..


whether or not
whether or not,
they thieving, criticizing or politricking
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking about yuh...

little hands held this branch,
cold damp river sand,
a path in the bush,
a short denim pants,
one side of slippers….

here the sting has left the nettle
the police don’t have enough vehicles
…the sea-lots residents shouldn’t
have to bathe by the jetty

quarter pound of butter, get a trim
go to the pharmacy, meet mammy
by the junction
go to church, coming back
from by daddy, don’t forget
to buy my cigarettes, milk an’ eggs
for the macaroni pie, two pound of onions

be there racial harmony..
a hindu hegemony or
a split in the ruling party..

here the sting has left the nettle..
the police don’t have enough vehicles,
wrought-iron burglar proofing, can’t stem
this tide of hunting corbeaux….

security guards are underpaid
over-worked an’ trigger happy
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh

whether or not
whether or not
i’m a hindu or a muslim
whether or not
whether or not
ah is a catholic or a baptist
we still thinking 'bout yuh,
we still thinking 'bout yuh

whether or not
whether or not
the prime minister move back
to whitehall or they call
ah snap elections
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh…

…whether or not
whether or not
the army and the police
stage road blocks every day
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh…

even though workers protest
for better conditions an pay
as distraught families must
muster the energy to face the press
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh…

nicole..oma..lloyd..jomokie..charlotte
whether or not
whether or not,
they praying, quarrelling,
preaching or politricking
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh…

i thought i heard you suggest
kidnapping, stabbing
and shooting was a part
of day to day living

whether or not
whether or not
they sell out the peoples’ patrimony
is 'bout time
they bloody well do
something
about our infants disappearing

we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking 'bout yuh
we still thinking about yuh...

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"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Blood and Fire [Song]


BLOOD AND FIRE
Kobo Town

The year was 1999 A.D.
All the people were kicking up a scene
in the countryside and in the city
tired of tyranny
so they marching in the cold, in the rain, in the heat
in the plaza, in the hall, in the square, in the street
breaking down the walls, unafraid of defeat
unafraid of the powers that be
‘Cause the powers that be never cared
the powers that be never shared
when hunger marched, drought parched the land
wealth and power never lent a hand
so with nowhere to turn, people riot and burn
street clash, broke glass, order overturned
people wonder when it will stop
you can only push the people so far…

From Gaza to Jaffna, [blood and fire]
Soweto to Rio, [blood and fire]
La Paz to Chiapas, [blood and fire]
Karachi to Dili, blood, blood, blood and fire

What must fall to be free? Blood and fire.
What must fall to be free?
What must fall to be free? Blood and fire.

Independent a half century
but people still living in misery
ten thousand strong humanity
marches on the city
where they calling out for bread, out for gas, out for heat
out for water, shelter, opportunity
in front of reporters, riot police
they state their demands defiantly
soon the tear gas filling up the air
rubber bullets bouncing everywhere
the crowd is told to disperse or expect the worst
if they don't clear out and disappear
so ignored and abused, nothing left to lose
people run up and down, frightened and confused
people wonder when it will stop
you could only push the people so far…

From Gaza to Jaffna, [blood and fire]
Soweto to Rio, [blood and fire]
La Paz to Chiapas, [blood and fire]
Karachi to Dili, blood, blood, blood and fire

What must fall to be free? Blood and fire.
What must fall to be free?
What must fall to be free? Blood and fire.

Look where the newspapers put all the blame
what a shame, where the newspapers put all the blame
they call it an unruly mob, criminal element
no face, no story, no name
but desperation is the order of the day
the neighbourhood erupts in the fray
some stand and fight -------------
some run and some choose to stay.

Blood and fire in Sarajevo [blood and fire]
Blood and fire in Soweto [blood and fire]
Blood and fire in Freetown, Georgetown, [blood and fire]
Managua, Jakarta blood, blood, blood, blood and fire all around
in the country, in the town
Blood and fire will fall around
All around in the country, in the town
Blood and fire, it will fall all around.

What must fall to be free?
Blood and fire must fall to be free.
What must fall to be free? Blood and fire!

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

No, Doctor, No! [Song]


Uploaded by TooMuchSumo

NO, DOCTOR NO!
By Mighty Sparrow

Listen, listen carefully
I am a man does never be sorry
I say, Listen, listen carefully
Sparrow is a man does never be sorry
But I went and vote for some council men
They have me now in the pen
After promising so much tender care
They forget me as they walk out of Woodford Square.

Chorus:
Because they raise up on the taxi fare [No, Doctor, no!]
Ey! And they have the blasted milk so dear [No, Doctor, no!]
I want them to remember we support them in September
They better come good [Good, good]
Because I have a big piece of mango wood.

Well people, plenty people sorry
Sorry they throw down Big Belly
But not me, I sticking my pressure
When I can't buy milk, I use sugar and water
Support local industries, they done declare
They mean Vat 19 rum and Carib beer
They way how they forcing we to drink Vat
It look as if they want to kill we in smart.

Oh Lord! They raise up on the taxi fare [No, Doctor, no!]
And why the blasted milk so dear? [No, Doctor, no!]
I want you to remember we support you in September
You better come good [Good, good]
I still have the big piece of mango wood.

Ey! I only hope they understand
I am only a calypsonian
What I say may be very small
But I know that poor people ent pleased at all.
We are looking for a betterment,
That is why we choose a new government.
But they raise on the food before we could talk,
And they raise taxi fare so we bound to walk.

But still I don't want them to catch cold sweat [No, Doctor, no!]
Because this mango wood talk is not a threat [No, Doctor, no!]
But still they must remember we support them in September
They better come good [Good, good]
I have no intention of throwing down my mango wood.

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Foreigner [Song]


Uploaded by cool4rocknroll

FOREIGNER

By Lord Nelson
Arranged by Clive Bradley
Album: Black Gold | Charlies | T&T 1978

I don't mind when they try to treat me unkind
And take away what is mine,
These are things I could put behind
But I demand respect from the countryman
Who at least they should understand
In a way, I'm an alien, partisan?

Man, you believe, mih own people call me foreigner, foreigner? [Foreigner, foreigner]

For everyone who doubt I'm a native son
Both my parents are dead and gone
In Tobago where I was born. Bless they soul!
Without a doubt anything that you talking 'bout
In my country from North or South
I could walk straight and point it out. Shut yuh mouth!!

Man, understand, you should shame to call me foreigner, foreigner. [Foreigner, foreigner]

I was around when they now bring trolley in town
And tram car running up and down
'Round the Savannah 'round and 'round [Round and round]
I was there when the preacher they call Nose Gay
Beg them crucify him up dey
Is I wey run to drag him away. So wey yuh say?

Man, in my land, Immigration stamps me foreigner, foreigner. [Foreigner, foreigner]

[Who?] Who else go know but a man born in Tobago
Who see big jacks and bonito does just stay so and jump ashore
[Who?] And who again will know soucouyant and douen
And la diablesse walking like men
Telling you go, come leh we go. Mama yo!

So I come, so I go, but don't ever call me foreigner, foreigner. [Foreigner, foreigner]

I spread my culture where I go [Foreigner, foreigner]
But don't ever call me foreigner. [Foreigner, foreigner]

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................




A Note From The Gull


Thank you, Lord Nelson! Wow, wow, wow! Chills ran up and down my spine. I've heard about scales falling off your eyes but how do you describe hearing something with new ears and being blown away by its revelations? Excellent music, excellent lyrics, excellent delivery. This is a masterpiece!

I dedicate this song to all people in T&T who are made to feel for whatever reason, that they are foreigners in their own land, but especially to those who are dismissed as "foreigners" because they dare to live and to share their vision of what T&T should be.

Phillip, this one is for you.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Do Something Good [Song]


Uploaded by ScorpioPetey


...Contagious.

DO SOMETHING GOOD
By Bill Trotman

Sponsor a child, make a sad person smile
Love with no end, save something for a friend.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

Play a love song, don't keep a good man down
Do share a care for a baby somewhere.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

Give up your seat, make your whole day a treat
Say a kind word, don't ever be absurd.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

Be a big brother for children in Africa
Be a true friend, let's save all the children.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

Sharing in caring, caring is sharing
Give of your soul, make this a better world.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody
It feels so good when you doing something good for somebody.

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Vampire Year [Song]


Uploaded by kaiso22

VAMPIRE YEAR
By Black Stalin

'78 was the Year of the Woman
They give the whole of '79 to the children
But brother man, Black Stalin say, Beware!
'81 in Trinidad is Vampire Year
Trini vampire park up with class
Is every five years they does pass
With crucifix and cross, they could make the grade
Is only chalice and loud smoke they 'fraid.

Chorus:
So, keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
------- vampire, small vampire, party vampire, micro vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
They passing with whiskey, holding a party
Giving 'way money, just to suck we
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing.

Vampire with PhD, HD and AAC
Vampire from in the university
Vampire with dashiki, jacket and tie
Vampire telling you they don't lie
Just a little bit of blood will do
They taking some sweat and some tears too
And from the time you join up, you in pain
You seeing them the next five years again.

Chorus:
So, keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Coalition vampire, micro vampire, humble vampire, lick up vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Close up your front door, close up your back door
Hang up your stale bread, turn round your bed head
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing.

Vampire like peas passing through ghetto
When they looking for blood, oh lord, they know where to go
With banners and placards evermore
Every minute of the day knocking at your door
But they making sure before they pass,
They taking all we chillum and grass
And an hour or so before they come
They -------- with whiskey and rum.

Chorus:
So, keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Coalition vampire, micro vampire, humble vampire, weird vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
They saying how they care 'bout we welfare
See them with they mouth cock, just to get their suck.
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing.

The best type of blood for Trini vampire
They say is when they suck the blood of labour
So from the time they come, you sure to hear them say
Ey, ey, we come out to give labour a play
But them driving 'round in big Cadillac
Chauffeur-driven with them at the back
And the only play that labour getting
Is the man behind the steering driving.

Chorus:
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
--------- vampire, weird vampire, group vampire, teacher vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
--------- in the morning, passing in the evening
See them with they mouth cock, begging for their suck
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
----- vampire, weird vampire, hard vampire, mad vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Rich vampire, poor vampire, thin vampire, fat vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
------- vampire, ------ vampire, single vampire, hard vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
-------- vampire, independent vampire, party vampire, group vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Coalition vampire, humble vampire, lick up vampire, weird vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing
Big vampire, small vampire, party vampire, lick out vampire
Keep the chalice smoking, vampire passing...

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

No Replacements [Song]


Uploaded by trinidesi

...Acknowledging The Giants Upon Whose Shoulders We Stand.

NO REPLACEMENTS
By Brother Valentino

Dedicated to these faithful departed
And who was here from since the struggle started
May their souls rest in peace and may the struggle never cease
Let us pay our respect and homage to these past icons and pioneers
Who brought calypso to where it is through blood, sweat and tears
There could never be another Kitchener, there could never be another Spoiler
No more will we see the Roaring Lion, he will never roar again in this land.
Men like Pretender, Terror, Cypher and the Lord Cristo
Who could replace them in calypso?
I don't know...

For calypso history month we should recognise
The ones who contributed to this paradise
All who made us dance, who opened our eyes,
Who made us laugh, who made us wise
Although these great calypsonians are now dead and gone
By their works, their names will always live on.
How could we forget the warlord, Blakie, Ras Shorty I and Lord Melody
What about the Iron Man, Zandolie, the Stickman who controlled Sangre Grande
The Mighty Duke, ------------, Mighty Dougla and the Lord Maestro
Sando, who could replace them in calypso?
I don't know...

Conqueror, Brigo, Power and Bomber say we facing a cultural disaster
Explainer, All Rounder asking the same question,
Where have all the calypsonians gone?
Composer tell me not a batch presently could build on the foundation
That was laid down by the icons who sang their lives out for this nation.
Dennis Franklin Williams - the man Merchant, his contribution was so important
------- Prowler, the Mighty Sniper, Invader, Young Tailor, Beginner and Commander
Men like Attila, Executor, Tiger and the Lord Popo
Who could replace them in calypso?
I don't know...

Like Almanac, Blakie, departed one by one to a higher plane in Kaisodom
So now is the changing of the guards and all I am seeing is them soca bards
Mudada tell me there's a scarcity, Lord Nelson say it's a tragedy
We have a shortage of calypsonians down here in T&T.
They better cherish Baron and Shadow, De Fosto, Gypsy, Luta -------- and Rio
David Rudder, Relator Aloes and Cro Cro, Chalkdust, Superior, Stalin and Sparrow
When you hear them fellahs say, "Goodbye, Au revoir, Adios, Pancho!"
Who could replace them in calypso?

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................




A Note From The Gull


Thank you, Brother Valentino! I am bowing low. Who could replace YOU in calypso?

Happy Valentine's Day, T&T!

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Lion And Donkey [Song]



Uploaded by mrprofessor18

LION AND DONKEY
By Mighty Sparrow

Bo Lion and Donkey arguing
The two of them, well who is really king
Bo Lion and Donkey arguing
Between the two of them, who is really king. Hmmm
Well, the argument reach a height
The committee say, "Let them fight."
All but monkey backing lion
The whole animal kingdom in confusion.

Hear they bawling...

Chorus:
[Beat the man, lion, buss he head!]
All them animals gone crazy
[Beat the man, lion, buss he head!]
Even the referee, he and all against donkey, he bawling
[Beat the man, lion, buss he head!]
A donkey is an ass and he have no brain
Lion bite away donkey tail and had the poor ass in pain.

Lion know donkey ent easy
So he decide to fight carefully
But the way the crowd encouraging
He get brave and he start to swing. Hmm
A left and a right to head... Woop too!
Upper cut, I say donkey dead
Donkey tumble down on the floor
Elephant, goat and tiger began to roar.

Hear they bawling...

Chorus:
[Lick him down, lion, lick him down!]
Take yuh paws and rip 'way he belly
[Lick him down, lion, lick him down!]
Only monkey crying for donkey
[Lick him down, lion, lick him down!]
This time, lion in a temper only sharing blows
Rip away all of donkey clothes
And had the whole ass exposed. Ey!

Monkey bawl, "Ey man, ring the bell."
Crapaud say, "For what? Go to hell."
"Well, all right use the secret weapon
And teach a lesson to this damn lion.
"
Referee Mr. Unicorn say, "It's a forgone conclusion.
Time to ring the bell really pass,

But a miracle couldn't save your partner ass.
"

Chorus:
[Knock him out, lion, knock him out!]
Donkey getting tired and backing
[Knock him out, lion, knock him out!]
Lion fouling but the referee ent warning
[Knock him out, lion, knock him out!]
Lion take a stool and really knock him down
Dog and all start to laugh at this
Big naked ass on the ground.

Hear they singing...

In a clinch, donkey kiss lion
Calling him a macomere man
Lion get so vex he change up he style
No more bobbing and weaving, he fighting wild
When he had donkey at arm's length
He pelt a bolo with all his strength
Donkey weave and that was the case
Lion spin, donkey grab him around he waist.

Hear the referee...

Chorus:
[That is foul, donkey, that is foul]
Donkey tell the referee, "Yes, I know."
[That is foul, donkey, that is foul]
"Ho-ho. Maybe, but this is one fowl that could crow!"
[Break, I say, donkey, break, I say]
Monkey say, "I don't know what is wrong with you.
Wey de hell you talking 'bout, Break, break, break...

And is that he trying to do?
"

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................




A Note From The Gull


Thank you, Mighty Sparrow! Man, I love you!

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Human Race [Song]


Uploaded by codazzo
HUMAN RACE
By Lord Pretender

This thing is worrying me day and night
This talk about nation and black and white
Oh, but it's torturing me day and night
This talk about nation and black and white
And nobody can say for true
Who the hell descended from who
But brother let me make you to understand
Two nation in this world is woman and man.

Chorus:
Because if an Indian woman go with an Englishman
That is one nation. Oh, lord!
An Irish man go with a Mongolian, another nation
So if a South African go with a Nigerian
The facts you got to face
No matter who your mother and father may be,
You belong to the human race.

And if what they taught me is right
They said that Adam and Eve was white
And so, if it's the truth that they tell
It's quite obvious, so was Cain and Abel
I don't know what happen and that's a fact
All I really know is Pretie born black
But if what they taught me I must believe,
Then I'm a descendant of Adam and Eve.

Chorus:
So if an Eskimo should go with a Korean, that is one nation
And a lil, lil pygmy with a big, big Amazon, another nation
So if an Egyptian should go with a Grenadian, wey you trying to trace?
No matter who your Mooma and Poopa may be,
You belong to the human race.

Believe me, I am one calypsonian
Who don't business with pigmentation
Don't matter what is the colour of your skin
That don't cut no ice with the Lord Pretender
Them Klu Klux Klan men from Alabama
I does see them on George street and at Miramar
With all kind of wabine, they making move
So whey the hell in Alabama they trying to prove? Tell them...

Chorus:
A Puerto Rican go with a Chinese, that is one nation. Oh, lord!
A Russian go with a Japanese, another nation
So if a Carriacounian go with a Portuguese, that ent no disgrace
Don't matter wey your Mamma and Papa may be,
You belong to the human race.

Take for instance in the animal creation
There is no such thing as pigmentation
We got black and white in horse, goat and hog
And very often you could bounce up a brown-skin dog
How the hell you eating pork from the black-skin sow?
You don't ask for white meat from the white-skin cow?
Well if the animals have equality,
What the heck is the difference in you and me?

Chorus:
So if a Hawaiian go with a Trinidadian, that is one nation. Oh lord!
A Filipino with a Tobagonian, another nation
If an American should go with an African, I done sum up the case
Don't matter who your Mammy and Pappy may be
You belong to the human race.

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Mother Trinbago [Song]


Uploaded by cool4rocknroll

MOTHER TRINBAGO
By Young Exposer
Arranged by Leston Paul
Album: Darling | MRS | Barbados 1987

Trinbago is really a God blessed country
By watching what taking place around the world daily
Anytime I check the daily newspapers
Or pay attention to them electronic medias
Oh, I say it's worse, executions and strife
Oh, it's horrors in every walks of life
Such problems countries facing every day
Is why all Trinbagonians should be proud to say and say and say...

Chorus:
Mother Trinbago, we all want you to know that you are kind
For the loyalties you extend onto mankind
No raciality but peace, love and harmony
No revolution, no destruction
Though we cosmopolitan, look, we live as one
In a small nation that's second to none
I am bold to say you are the best country in this world!

This land is the best on earth, I talking flat
It's a fact and I'm sure no one would dispute that
Many nations now struggling to be free
While we live so happy here in democracy
I say we've got freedom to earn as much as we can
Freedom of speech, freedom of religion
Apart from that we live in equality
Where else in the world you can find this but T&T tell me, tell me?

Chorus:
Mother Trinbago, we all want you to know that you are kind
For the loyalties you extend onto mankind
No raciality but peace, love and harmony
No revolution, no destruction
Though we cosmopolitan, look, we live as one
In a small nation that's second to none
I am bold to say you are the best country in this world!

[Thanks, Mother Trinbago. God bless you, Mother Trinbago]

Trinbago is really a natural beauty
It's either that or we are blessed by the Almighty
We should hope and pray here remain the same way
For it's madness I see taking place in the world today
Look how poor people suffering in South Africa
Drought and famine pester Ethiopia
Other parts of the world, outbreak making people bawl
So we should thank God these things don't happen to we at all
Not at all, after all...

Chorus:
Mother Trinbago, we all want you to know that you are kind
For the loyalties you extend onto mankind
No raciality but peace, love and harmony
No revolution, no destruction
Though we cosmopolitan, look, we live as one
In a small nation that's second to none
Take note, I say you are the greatest country on earth!

[Thanks, Mother Trinbago. God bless you, Mother Trinbago]
[Thanks, Mother Trinbago. God bless you, Mother Trinbago]
[Thanks, Mother Trinbago. God bless you, Mother Trinbago]

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

All Ah We Are One [Song]


Uploaded by kaiso22Link
ALL AH WE ARE ONE
By King Fighter [Guyana]

Some of us only making distinction through the different colour of skin
And causing on our own self, segregation, hatred and sin
When I sit down and study it over that is the same Lord created man
It give me the zeal to come here and tell it to everyone.

Chorus:
We all are brother, we all are sister, we are neighbour
We ent no stranger to each other
Since creation we came to this land
So you must understand all ah we are one.

When we ent boasting on our colour, our good looks or position
We just come to a rough conclusion by treating others with scorn
But let me tell you, my goodly people, we could be black, yellow, white or green
Now dig this in your skin, we were all conceived as a human being.

Chorus:

We all are brother, we all are sister, we are neighbour
We ent no stranger to each other
Since creation we came to this land
So in my opinion, tell them, all ah we are one.

Well, some of us very, very envy, now I want you to understand
What my own good friend do me when I was a Rasta man
One night I lie down resting mih body, good, good as ever
When he up a scissors, clips-claps, and cut out all mih rasta.

Chorus:
But we are brother, we are sister, we are neighbour
We ent no stranger to each other
Since creation we came to this land
So in my opinion, ey, all ah we are one.

Now let us stop disproving and fending I'm appealing to everyone
And bear this in your memory, we are one nation of this land
So if you see your neighbour house burning, put a helping hand
That one of these days we bound to get we satisfaction.

Chorus:
'Cause we are brother, we are sister, we are neighbour
We ent no stranger to each other
Since creation we came to this land
So black man or white man, tell them, all ah we are one.

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Richard Sudan: "VS Naipaul does Trinidad a disservice."

Lively comments follow this article at the original source.

VS Naipaul does Trinidad a disservice.
The new government, free of racial divide, represents a modern Trinidad far from Naipaul's mocking contempt.
By Richard Sudan
UK Guardian | Thursday 10 February 2011

"The Caribbean island of Trinidad has produced no shortage of notable figures – from great thinkers such as its first prime minister Eric Williams and the social theorist CLR James, to legendary sports personalities such as the Olympic gold medal winner Hasely Crawford, the cricketer Brian Lara and the sprinter Ato Boldon.

The nation's diverse cultural makeup stems from its colonial past, with a population largely of Indian and African descent. One of the most recognisable sons of Trinidad is the writer and Nobel laureate VS Naipaul. In 2008 Naipaul was listed 7th in the Times's list of the greatest postwar British writers. He was knighted in 1989 and received the Nobel prize for literature in 2001.

His work draws from his experience of living in Trinidad. There is no doubting Naipaul's mastery of the English language and his ability to weave compelling narratives. But what becomes overwhelming when delving into the depths of his prose is a dark undercurrent of racism – an almost barefaced contempt for the people of his own country. This is not new and certainly not unique to Naipaul.

Trinidadians are more united than Naipaul depicts. They voted for the new People's Partnership coalition administration and Trinidad's first female prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the general election last year, from a desire to see change in the old political status quo rooted in Patrick Manning and the People's National Movement (PNM). The People's Partnership swept to victory through a renewed sense of identity and in a bid to see a political system reflective of the will of many, free from charges of corruption, and representative of all races in Trinidad.

The remaining racial divides are a hangover from the days of slavery and the British occupation. They reek of the inferiority complex that many Trinidanians had drummed into them from birth – and this is what Naipaul panders to in his novels Miguel Street (1959) and A House for Mr Biswas (1961), in which the underlying mockery of Indian Trinidadians is the defining thread. It leaves the reader with a bitter taste.

Such sentiments from Naipaul were not limited to Trinidad. The writer Paul Theroux, once a friend and protege of Naipaul, cited him during their time together in Africa as having "a fear of being swallowed by the bush, a fear of the people of the bush" – referring to Naipaul's fear of Africa and African people.

It is opinions like Naipaul's of Trinidad – and of Africa – that have been given the most attention. There is, however, another perspective, one that better sums up Trinidad and adheres more to the reality of life for its people – and how they feel about it.

My family's home is next to the house that Naipaul grew up in and used as the basis for A House for Mr Biswas. My late great-uncle, Roy Sudan, wrote an essay on life growing up in the street, published in the early 1990s. It paints a different picture of life and speaks of the sense of pride that Trinidadians feel toward their country, a pride felt in the warmth that resonates from the people of Port of Spain today. One extract from the essay best sums these sentiments up; Sudan, writing about the hustle and bustle of the city, speaks of "the friendly participation of every creed and race, especially when the suburb of St James celebrates our two cultural events, Hosay and carnival" – indeed, carnival celebrates independence from the British empire and Trinidadian pride. But Naipaul's writing has never reflected this.

We must challenge opinions such as Naipaul's, especially when they are indicative of wider views, which are only reinforced if they are taken seriously. We need to question any prejudice rewarded, especially by such a potent symbol of empire, the coloniser, which gave Naipaul a knighthood. Dealing with such controversial neocolonial views is paramount to changing people's perceptions."
..............................................................................................................................




A Note From The Gull


Thank you, Richard Sudan, for giving me the opportunity to wonder if what the world needs is yet another article about V.S. Naipaul's misrepresentation of the country of his birth. I am well aware that the only reason that Naipaul gets this attention is because he is something of a celebrity and we'd like to piggyback on that fame to use him as our cultural ambassador. It leaves us with egg on our faces when a famous son of the soil does not follow the "Trini to de bone" script but takes every opportunity to go down to the Thames with bar of blue soap and a paddle to wash our dirty linen in public.

I have, from my childhood, heard mere peons echo similar Naipaulean comments without knowing anything about Naipaul except that he was definitely not as relevant to their lives as was the East Indian shopkeeper selling them their poisons of choice. They lacked Naipaul's impeccable command of the Queen's English, but soared nevertheless in their own fashion upon the tongue loosening updrafts of puncheon spiked with the sheer joy of unchecked cussing. My home was a no-curse zone so I owe a debt of gratitude to these men who stood, swayed and then slumped onto the curb each Friday night as they celebrated the end of another week of backbreaking manual labour or mindless DEWD curb hacking or crippling unemployment. They could sum up Trinidad and Tobago without fear of contradiction. On many a night I would lie in my bed smiling into the darkness as their expletives cracked the air. Thanks to them, my inner canal conks and La Bas crab were stirred into early awakening.

I have never seen one article written about these men or their opinions about Trinidad and Tobago because they were not famous men. And what about the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who silently half agree with Naipaul but feel compelled to publicly three quarters disagree? And what about the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who don't have the luxury of raising their heads from bread and butter issues to give a damn about who denigrates or loves their country? Mister Naipaul is entitled to his opinions about the country of his birth and about any other country in the world. If his life experiences have lead him to this understanding of things, or if as some believe, he is pandering to a particular audience, what sense does it make to continue raking him over the coals.

I started reading Naipaul in secondary school because he was on the reading list and I thoroughly enjoyed his books. At that time I read A House for Mister Biswas, Miguel Street, the Mimic Men, Mystic Masseur and Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion. Naipaul's books never made me feel trapped or hopeless about Trinidad and Tobago. On the contrary, I felt that their message was always that as long as there was life in the mind, there would be hope.

So forgive me if I cannot understand why it is Mister Naipaul's commentary on this alleged "racial divide" in our country that should get the attention and not what the people who actually live in T&T think about the matter. Who is asking them for their opinions? Mister Naipaul is only one voice. It was Sat Maharaj who as recently as August last year spoke about that same racial divide and stated that a discussion should be had.
"He said the cultural and racial divide in this country is a discussion that must not be overlooked.

"It's a necessary discussion, we must have the discussion. People must understand. Were it not for the fact that this is a free country our culture will be suppressed," SOURCE
I have no idea what cultural/racial divide exists in my country since I never experienced it myself or ever heard mention of it from the people of African or East Indian descent with whom I grew up. But I agreed with him that we should have the discussion to finally conclude whether this is just a convenient myth.

We should also ask ourselves if, when it comes to Mister Naipaul, we are not mistaking hot tabanca for cool contempt. I tend to believe that people continue to react negatively against real or perceived hurts/disappointments experienced over their lifetimes but especially in their formative years. I call this unfinished business tabanca and I think that Mister Naipaul has it bad.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Die With My Dignity [Song]


Uploaded by marledebakkerunicorn

DIE WITH MY DIGNITY
By Singing Sandra

You want to help to mind your family,
You want to help your man financially
But nowadays it really very hard
To get a job as a girl in Trinidad
You looking now to find something to do,
You meet a boss man who promise to help you
But when the man lay down the condition,
Nothing else but humiliation.
They want to see your whole anatomy
They want to see wey your doctor never see
They want to do wey your husband never do
Still you ent know if the scamps will hire you
Well, if is all this humiliation
To get a job these days as a woman
Brother, they go keep dey money, I go keep my honey
And die with my dignity!

Some of them done park up already
Yet they sit down waiting like mapepire
Using the power of their cash and position
Waiting to abuse and exploit any woman
To get the work you have to go to bed with he
Become he slave, second wife and deputy
And as a next woman come on the line
He start to tell you, "You ent good, you can't wine."
They want to see you with some fancy, fancy pose
They want to see how you look without your clothes
They want you cock up like a bloody acrobat
Their wife at home, they can't ask she to do that
So before I have to lick down somebody
Or cuss and let the police come for me
Tell them they could keep dey money, I go keep my honey
And die with my dignity!

Looking for work, you might bounce up a fellow
Who might be looking quite handsome and macho
You tell yourself you want to work with he
So you decide to try a ratchifee
But when you done is then you get to know
He wife leave he and gone long time ago
With all the cash he have, he is a failure
The man is nothing but a blinking soucouyant
They want to feel up your navel and your breast
They want to see if you have lota on your chest
The things they want to do you with dey hand
Like if they searching to find the promised land
I am a woman who don't make any skylark
Before I slap them and they die of heart attack
Tell them they could keep dey money, I go keep my honey
And die with my dignity!

It have a lot of women just like me
Who might be not too well off financially
You need a job and you really need it bad
A man decide to help, you must be glad
But if you value yourself as a woman
You will demand respect from the vagabonds
Stand up to them and let them know the truth
Is work you want, you ent no blinking prostitute
You have a mole on your back, they want to see
They want to see if you have marks on your belly
They want to know how much man you had before
And if you strong enough to take any more
I have my pride and I have my ambition
I want to hold my head up high as a woman
So brother, they go keep dey money, I go keep my honey
And die with my dignity!

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
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A Note From The Gull


For some reason, the site is being queried for this song so I am happy to present it and the transcribed lyrics. Powerful, powerful stuff!

Thank you, Singing Sandra. This, together with Singing Francine's "Run Away" were among my mother's favourite calypsos. Her dignity was a major, major part of who she was in her life as a woman and she always warned her sons about taking advantage of women, even when the women appear to be willing.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

Run Away! [Song]


Uploaded by steelasophical

RUN AWAY!
By Singing Francine

Spoken: Every two seconds there is abuse of spouse, battered housewives in the streets and the homes. I have one solution and it's the only solution if you can't agree to disagree. Otherwise they will read on their tombstone "Returned if possible." The name of my song is entitled "Run Away!"

You went and you put gold ring on she hand [La la-la la la la]
You boasting in town that you is she man [La la-la la la la]
She say that you love she, bursting with joy,
She give you a baby boy.
Little did she know you wanted a maid [La la-la la la la]
Your next lady friend couldn't make the grade [La la-la la la la]
Now she sit down and wondering what to do
How to get away, how to get away, how to get away from you!

Chorus:
Dog does run away, fowl does run away
Lady, cat does run away when you treating them bad
Hog does run away, cow does run away
What happen to you? Woman you could run away too!

Get out! Down the road! Don't turn back! Run!!!

You went and you put gold teeth in she mouth [La la-la la la la]
As allyuh get vex, you cra---ing it out [La la-la la la la]
You making she shame all over the place
Man, you is damn disgrace!
Not even to church now, she cannot go [La la-la la la la]
She beg for lil love, you telling she, "No." [La la-la la la la]
She frighten like hell to make up a plan
How to get away, how to get away, how to get away from you!

Chorus:
Hog does run away, cow does run away
Lady, cat does run away when man treating them bad
Hog does run away, cat does run away
Don't sit down and screel, woman put two wheels on your heels!

Get out! Down the road! And don't turn back! Run!!! Take your child and run! Back to Mooma! Back to Poopa!

It ent easy to be a battered wife [La la-la la la la]
And getting abused the rest of your life [La la-la la la la]
When family come you does have to smile
And pretend that he so nice.
When he drink and drunk well now he turn beast [La la-la la la la]
You does have to wonder if he kill priest [La la-la la la la]
Is licks left and right and all in your head
Woman run away, look, woman run away away, run away before he kill you dead!

Chorus:
Dog does run away, cow does run away
Lady, cat does run away when man treating them bad
Hog does run away, duck does run away
What happen to you? Woman you could run away too!

Get out!

Spoken:
Now this verse, this verse that's coming up is for all the men, all the men that's listening. This is a serious matter. Listen!

If you know you don't treat your woman nice [La la-la la la la]
Start checking up now, you take my advice [La la-la la la la]
Don't let she have cause to fly out the coop
Woman never run from good. No, no, no, no!
When she give you food, just tell she it sweet [La la-la la la la]
Hold the lady hand when she cross the street [La la-la la la la]
Just do as I say, handle she with care
And she'd never run away, she would never run away, she would never run away from you!

Chorus:
Because dog does run away, hog does run away
Jackass does run away when man treating them bad
Cat does run away, them dog does run away
Don't sit down and screel, she would put two wheels on she heels.

She would get out! She go run! Back to Mooma! She go run! Back to Poopa!
"Come doudodu, you is mih daughter. You know I love you.
Come doudou, take yuh child and....
"

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
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A Note From The Gull


Thank you, Singing Francine. Excellent advice! My mother loved this song and she would have given this advice to her own children. However, there are other "Moomas and Poopas" who are part of the problem and actually advise their battered daughters to return to their husbands, even when these men have received no counselling and there is no guarantee that the violence will not continue to escalate. "You cannot leave your husband," they argue. "Marriage is a serious thing." So even when it becomes deadly serious, some of these parents forget that their first duty is towards their children and defending their safety, not propping up some social convention for the sake of tradition or keeping up appearances.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare