Stickfighting: Gi Dem Bwa!

My new favourite thing for Carnival isn’t new at all. It’s a traditional martial art, or fighting style, that was born in Trinidad to African and Indian parents and seems to be having a revival. It’s called Kalinda or Stickfighting.

I first went to Stickfighting last year, and had a blast. My favourite thing are the singers and the drums. The grio singing style, the drums and the patwa lyircs make for an infectious combination.

This is my story about the finals competition last year.

This year I made it to the preliminary competition which took place at St. Mary’s Basketball Court in Moruga.

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I missed the semis in Arima on Friday because of Army Fete. But my camera man went so I wrote up the story.

Did you see those match ups? Kinda bummed that I missed the action live.

These competitions are being organised by the National Carnival Commission, and they’ve just released the results. These are the Gayelles you will see on Wednesday in Skinner’s Park:

  1. VALIANT BROTHERS                    Oniel Odle                                                     
  2. ST. MARY’S NO. 1                          Roger Sambury                                            
  3. RIO CLARO                                      Michael Hernandez                                
  1. BOIS ACADEMY                             Rondell Benjamin

Remember, if yuh cyah breaks, doh play!

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Calypso Rose Returns Victorious

Dr. McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis is back in Trinidad, having arrived safely from Paris.

Victoire de Music, we’ve been referring to it as the French Grammy. Her manager says she’s still breaking ground. She is the first Caribbean person to win a Victoire, and to receive a standing ovation at the ceremony for her performance

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She says an new album is coming. But Far From Home is in heavy rotation on local radios. Really!

Carnival Calendars

If you are coming to Trinidad for Carnival bookmark this post because it has the dates of all the must-see, never-been-to-but-want-to, and regional Carnival events for Carnival 2017.

This first is from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts.culture-carnival-calendar-2017

The Second is from the National Carnival Commission. This one is the one to bookmark for stickfighting and parades of the bands.

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Fetes are an important part of the festivities. Bishop’s was last Saturday and I had a ball. So keep following your Trini friends on Facebook and check the fete calendar here . See you at Army Fete

 

KaiSoca at the Jazz Studio with Clive Zanda

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The Ethnic Jazz Club is presenting a special performance on Friday 18th November with Clive Zanda.  Clive Zanda will be performing with Richard Joseph (drums), Russell Durity (bass), Natasha Joseph (pans).

Clive Zanda’s set will run from 8pm-10pm, so get there early!

Tickets can be purchased Tuesday 15th and Thursday 17th November between 11am and 5.30pm at the Studio.

Jazz artiste Chantel Esdelle says you should “Seize this opportunity to capture a performance by one of the living icons of kaiso jazz.” I can’t help but agree.

Check out the Ethnic Jazz Club at 51 Cornelio Street in Woodbrook.

Calypso Rose Wins WOMEX Artist of the Year 2016

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WOMEX drew to a close for its 22nd edition with the Award ceremony Sunday, 23 October. Delegates gathered in Santiago de Compostela’s Auditorio Abanca to celebrate the careers and achievements in artistry and professionalism by three key world music players.

Calypso legend Calypso Rose (Trinidad & Tobago) was presented with the WOMEX 16 Artist Award; Colombian hip-hop school 4Elementos Skuela received the Professional Excellence Award (represented at WOMEX by founder Henry Arteaga); and the Label Award went to Glitterbeat Records for the third year running.

Henry Arteaga delivered his acceptance speech in part via a capella rap, and also stated the importance and symbolism of the WOMEX Award: “Our neighbourhood and our school are more alive and happier than ever and it is them who really deserve the applause. I am ashamed that in my country thousands of people think more can be achieved through war instead of through peace. Music on the other hand, born from the soul, is made to connect one another. The WOMEX Award ancient goddess figurine represents a mother – and we may have forgotten it, but this signifies something very special – love. This Award thus for me is a symbol of what we need now for rescuing my country and its future.”
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Receiving her award, Calypso Rose told the WOMEX delegates “I would especially like to thank WOMEX, the World Music Expo…but now I want to keep you on your feet by dancing!”

The ceremony itself then ended with a bang: a special performance saw Calypso Rose joined on stage by the all-star ‘Calypso Sound System’ featuring Drew Gonsalves and other members of Kobo Town, and left the audience dancing in the aisles.

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New Soca

Two soca songs created a bit of buzz this week. The first being from novelty act Uncle Ellis. Uncle Ellis shot to spotlight earlier this year for his now trademark dance, originally performed outside KFC Independence Square by a music cart.

Well he’s capitalising on his notoriety, and has released a song for Carnival 2017. It’s getting some early Jouvert hype. Not sure if that assessment is genuine or if they are pappyshowing the man. Time will tell.

The second has been out for a bit, but the video dropped this week. It was filmed during Chinatown (a fete). I want to like the video, the look of it is of the highest quality, but the video has no story. Before you tell me that it’s a fete video, so it can’t have a story, let me point you to Machel Montano’s The Fog. That director used his shots better, and took enough to create the narrative of a bess fete, that is overly joyous. He was able to single out several story lines: the lovers; the friends; the performers on the stage, including the artist who is almost incidental to the party. It’s a winning production.

New T&T Tourism Site

The Tourism Development Company Limited has a new destination website: www.gotrinidadandtobago.com.

It’s meant to be attractive to vacation planners and has information about events, food and shopping.

Most interestingly, you can book trips from the website.

This follows the launch of a German-language site which is targeted to travellers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland: www.gotrinidadtobago.de  That site went live in July

Talk Like a Trini

As a journalist, every day I struggle with my use of the language to properly express my thoughts and experiences. I am always worried that I am saying the wrong thing, especially in my news scripts. But outside of matters of grammar and expression, and beyond issues surrounding the creative use of language, one of my biggest concerns is using words and expressions that make sense here.

Post-Colonial Trinidad and Tobago reflects its reality in its language. Expressions like “it’s making cold” is a direct translation from the French, or patois (or patwa). Actually it’s patwa, not patois, in the same vein we should use kreole, not creole when writing in Trinidad and Tobago. Because patois reinforces a dominance that isn’t healthy to modern day Trinidad and Tobago. Think that I’m stretching it a bit? Ok, let me explain.

You still hear people talking about ‘good English’ or describing patwa as broken French. Neither are true. The bad English they’re referring to is the vernacular, which is, “the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.” It’s the first language you learn, and you’re usually  a fluent speaker before you’re introduced to formal classes. Standard English is the dialect of the upper classes, and has been set as the ideal form of all expression. And there is no one Standard English. There’s American, UK, Trinidadian and Jamaican Standard English. You probably already know the difference in American and English spelling. They have grammatical differences too, and the same can be found in the various Standard forms of English around the globe. Plus language is always changing. Words fall in and out of favour all the time. Some are lost forever, and others become fixtures in our vocabulary.

But the good and bad in the language we use has more to do with class than expression or effective communication. And that’s where we need to think about the value we place on the languages at our disposal. Especially here in the Caribbean. Do you really want to value the expression preferred by people who didn’t respect your ancestors? Who put systems in place so that our still valid cultural heritage remains insufficiently known and valued, and runs the risk of disappearing as the minutes pass by? Consider this, in 1797 when the English captured Trinidad of the 28,000 people living there at the time, 20,000 of them spoke patwa. (Let’s not even process what happened to the language of the First People’s, I lack the strength).

For instance, of great concern to me is the use of expressions, where the original meaning has changed, and obscured. In Trinidad, when you call someone an ‘old nigger’ you are calling them violent and hot tempered. ‘Bad John‘ is a good synonym (visit the link for the etymology of that expression) for Ole Nigger. But how did ole, or old, come to mean hot-tempered or violent? Well, it wasn’t because Caribbean elders were more angry that their European counterparts. It was because the expression, which is a straight translation from the patwa ‘Vyé Neg’, the word vyé refers to country. As in Old Country, as in Africa. Think about it, the newly arrive slaves would have been more prone to strikes, more likely to fight for their freedom, and extremely resistant to life on the plantation. The expression remained, but the origins have been forgotten. And I’ve been less inclined to use it as a derogatory term ever since I learned it’s history.

In my line of work I also have to listen to quite a lot of speeches. I’ve become very tired at our poor expression in formal settings when in any lime, we’re witty, sharp and prone to brilliant turns of phrases. Why doesn’t this happen when we write and deliver speeches? And why do we turn to quotes from Shakespeare, Dr. King or some overused cliché, when Dr. William’s was full of chat, as are our writers and calypsonians. We need to use local references more. But more on that in another post.

Calypso on Nelson Island

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In commemoration of Calypso History Month, the National Trust will host its 2nd Vintage Calypso On Nelson Island on Saturday 22nd October 2016, with Lord Superior and a full cast accompanied by the Reflection Band.  

 This year we will have the pleasure of hearing Bro. Valentino, Bro. Mudada, Twiggy, Abebele along with the iconic Lord Superior.  We can look forward to an exciting evening of nostalgia with calypsos from the 50’s through the 70’s.

 

·         Place:  Nelson Island Heritage Site

·         Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016

·         Time: 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

·         Transportation:  Water Taxi Service

·         Cost: Members : $200, Seniors: $225, Non-Members: $250 and Juniors $150

·Tickets are available at: National Trust Office, 68 – 70 Sackville Street and Water Taxi Terminals, San Fernando and Port of Spain.

 The Water Taxi will depart from the San Fernando Water Taxi Terminal at 1.30 p.m. and from the Port of Spain Water Taxi Terminal at 2.30 p.m. 

 Come out and support our iconic calypsonians, take the opportunity to learn about the Nelson Island Heritage Site and the Five Islands and enjoy a relaxing evening of old time calypsos.

 For further information and to confirm a booking for tickets, please contact the office of the National Trust at 225 – 4750 or 277 – 6105 or by return e-mail.