National pride amid bacchanal – Feb 8, 2009


“National pride amid bacchanal.”

Just two weeks to Carnival, and we can feel it in the air. Various corporate sponsors have started putting up banners around Port-of-Spain proper and in St James. These are now an expected part of the Carnival landscape—similar to lights during Christmas time.

Banners from our more responsible corporate citizens have thoughtful messages that remind us to have fun and be careful.

In the midst of the bacchanal, it is satisfying to know that some bandleaders see the bigger picture beyond just making money.

From St Mary’s Children’s Home in Tacarigua, Adele Bynoe was telling me that a children’s Carnival band has made 50 costumes available, free of charge, for their children this year. This band is Rosalind Gabriel’s, whose presentation for Children’s Carnival 2009 is National Pride. This gift to St Mary’s Children Home has been going on for about 20 years or so, and this year it is made possible through support from the good folks at Nestle and Beacon Insurance. Kudos to Nestle, Beacon, and Gabriel!

Inspired by our national anthem, Gabriel’s presentation, National Pride, has ten sections, four of which are already sold out, according to the Web site The theme and the sections that follow from it are designed to make us feel even better about being from sweet Trinidad and Tobago—and they definitely do. The sections are Man of Steel; Love; Liberty; In the Fires of; Hope and Prayer; Destiny; Side by Side We Stand; Blue Caribbean Sea; Our Native Land; and Every Creed and Race.

Another nation-building and consciousness-raising presentation come from Trini Revellers. Its 2009 presentation is called A Tribute to Trinidad and Tobago. I have always praised Trini Revellers for its ability to find a balance between tradition and commerce. They have costumes with meaning, and that is, at the same time, appealing to those of us who do not mind the Las Vegas-type mas. Its Web site:

Its 21 sections include Angostura Bitters, Caroni Swamp, Folklore, Maracas Bay, the Splendour of Buccoo Reef, and Sunday Morning Market. For me, this band is a must-see on Carnival Tuesday. Trini Revellers’ Enrico Rajah reminds us that, “We are a people, a resourceful people. Our language is colorful; our people are colorful; our history and culture are colorful; even our sport is colorful.” And yet, in every activity in this little nation, so many people can stand tall and be proud of their achievements for their contributions to this country. And it is these achievements we must salute. But to salute these achievements, we must salute the people who produced these achievements which we now enjoy. FBAR Reporting Singapore

These are the people who have helped produce “Mother Trinidad and Tobago.” Like Gabriel, Trini Revellers also recognizes that there are less fortunate people to consider at Carnival time. Part of the profits goes to various charities. Bandleader David Cameron mentioned Corpus Christi School and the Agape Training Centre. Cameron is also in touch with various children’s homes, but, as he says, he avoids the popular ones in favor of those that do not normally get much attention.

It is always helpful to remember that not all of us could afford to engage in the festivities. It is also helpful to remember that not all of us want to engage in the bacchanal. I was talking to Nicole Thomas from Kids in Need of Direction (Kind). Kind describes itself as a non-profit, charitable organization assisting disadvantaged children for the past 13 years within education, nutrition, medical assistance, vocational training, and emotional counseling.

I asked whether Kind would be interested in having some of their children being sponsored to play mas. Thomas explained that the young people in her program did not necessarily see playing mas as a priority, given their other concerns. Kind has a program called Sponsor a Child, which allows individuals and corporate citizens to help a disadvantaged child attend school regularly.

There are more details on its Website:, or you can ring 626-5463 or 626-6333 to find out more. This program has allowed hundreds of children to acquire sound education while instilling a sense of self-worth. As always, I end by saying that we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country despite our challenges. We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done. Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in our country as we move towards Vision 2020.



Note: The above reference link was live on December 2010, but it has since been taken down.

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