Election festivities relieve my Carnival tabanca

by Denyssa David

My first Carnival experience was starving myself at 4 because I thought my lipstick would not be refreshed after I ate. I have loved Carnival since then, not simply Tribe and the array of cooler and all-exclusive fetes but cultural events like the re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots. When Bunji Garlin’s Carnival Tabanca was released, it was glorious and equally melancholic for me. In a turn of events, our local politicians, campaign advisers and die-hard party loyalist took pity on me and all others who long for the bacchanal of Carnival. Homes of campaign managers and party offices were transformed into mas camps with the buzz of Local Government election plans in preparation for Election Monday. Big trucks blast the music of hastily-penned, catchy election soca: Jack Jack Jack, Vote de PP, Vote UNC and Vote de PNM ring out with no regard for the sick, elderly and pets. Town criers that previously scrunted, save for the occasional death announcement of a village elder, have now been asked to announce the revival of a community member (read: stranger) wishing to secure votes for a party of his/her, and hopefully your choice.

At some political fetes, the sea of mono-chromatic t-shirts except for a sprinkle of other colours explode upwards with national and party flags; placards with spelling errors; ‘Photoshopped’ pictures of smiling strangers wearing white pearls and fancy suits; Baptist bells and vuvuzelas. The performers on stage incite the crowd with expectant and rhythmic crescendos revealing the latest gossip on rival candidates. Shiny foil containers with pelau and buckets with geera neck and souse tremble with the vibrations of the frenzied fracas, waiting for hungry, intoxicated supporters. Vagrants dressed in party t-shirts and matching rubber slippers master the art of disguise but not better than a politician crossing the floor. Bottle collectors grin like ‘gouti escaping trap, dragging crocus bags too small to hold the amount of money that the chosen performer claims the rival has stolen. Soca, and tassa drums bellow throughout the town centre punctuating accusations and allegations. The mudslinging excites the crowd; in their drunken state, they wait for more. Ravine politics is the order of the season; the deluge of filth pervades everywhere because it cannot be contained even by hundreds of metres of box drains.

Red, green, white and yellow Jouvert paint stain the chests of supporters who, like the average youth for Pan Semis, enjoys the lime more than anything else. Amid this crowd must be a heart yearning for authenticity, cringing as speeches strangle the ethics of statesmanship out of our political landscape. There must be someone craving depth, waiting for the inspiration of a great platform speech that will inspire her now and her grandchildren decades from now. But some patrons are left empty-handed and heavy-hearted with a mind filled with musings of campaign finance legislation that will promote greater transparency; eager burgesses begging employers for time off to work with Councillors on community projects or development planning for municipalities that are tailored to address the needs of each unique community. There must be someone who wants to be part of initiatives to build communities not just by constructing box drains and walls but by reforming education. I am certain that someone understands that local government is about community governance by all; another might be confused about the focus on political party leaders as opposed to local government candidates.


Maybe, on that penitential morning after Election Monday, when dust settles for CEPEP workers to sweep, and politicians trade coloured Jouvert paint for dry-cleaned suits, we will acquire a meaningful appreciation of our identity as players on the political recreation ground. The box drains will once again overflow because of litter. WASA will dig up newly-paved election gifts. We will realise that young boys were still being shot while we stood on coolers wining to Jack Jack Jack. A student, on a creaking bench will not be able to focus because his mother left home early and his 7-year-old sister did not prepare breakfast as instructed. Condos will be built on fertile agricultural land and we will cry, ‘that is Mr. Tomato’. In collective, lenten introspection, will we then see ourselves? What will we do when we realize that the big truck passing by is not a music truck but a garbage truck of a businessman who won more contracts than he has trucks for? Will the silence of that big truck only usher in an Election tabanca?

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