Artists of Guyana need to eat and their sources of food are already limited

Dear Editor,

In response to the article titled, `Imitation Carnival puts Guyana’s tradition at risk- Creighton’, published in SN on May 23, 2018, I’d like to offer the following critique.

While I agree wholeheartedly agree with a few of Mr. Creighton’s salient points especially the conclusion that Guyana Carnival is essentially an imitation of Trinidad’s Carnival minus the deep cultural significance and arduous struggles Trinidad has had to face to make Carnival what it is today, I do not believe the organisers of Guyana Carnival are responsible for the ‘slow death’ of Mashramani that the column implies.

Mash is authentically Guyanese and the Government of Guyana should have been investing in and developing our Mashramani celebrations a long time now! In the words of American investor Paul Tudor, “You adapt, evolve, compete or die”. People have been saying for many years that the one day float-parade is not enough and Guyana Carnival has done what they’ve neglected to do for years- listen to what the people want! The unimaginative people in the Government of Guyana  responsible for public relations and acknowledging the needs of this generation are clearly incompetent as evidenced by their bull-headed decision to change the float parade route even though the people said over and over that the old route held sentimental value. They asserted their authority, enforced a crippling curfew and took the rerouted parade to their D’Urban Park despite public outcry and forced it upon the people. I believe they should have approached Hits and Jams to help revive our Mashramani celebrations that have been attracting less and less people over recent years.

Now, Mr. Creighton is targeting the local artists including Jumo, Kwasi Ace, Jonathan King, Timeka and Natural Black for jumping on the Carnival bandwagon and not putting in that amount of effort in Mashramani. Well, Mr. Creighton, the artists of Guyana need to eat and their sources of food are already limited! With the exception of the Carib Soca Monarch that the Trinidadian company, ANSA McAl has held for years until recently, there have been no major incentives for artists participating in the Mash festivities.

They’re hired as fillers for a few shows primarily headlined by foreign artists (except Stag Stage that has remained strictly local), some artists who can afford it or are sponsored enter the Monarchs and local music plays mostly during the season.

The difference is, Trinidad’s Carnival has birthed and exported some of the greatest Trini talents from artists to designers and producers. Because of Carnival and national support of their local Soca music, Machel, Destra, Patrice, and the likes have lucrative careers and can perform on events in and out of Trinidad all year round. Additionally, Trinidad Soca Monarch winners are paid an average 8 million GYD more for the Soca Monarch crown than what is paid to the Guyanese victor who is expected to put on an equally fantastic show and is held to the same standards career-wise.

The prize money in Trinidad was actually much more but it decreased recently. The truth is, the Government of Guyana failed Mashramani, local artists and the eager revellers long before Guyana Carnival came into the picture. Maybe now they will wake up or continue sleeping and allow Mash to fade completely into obscurity.

Yours faithfully,

Jackie ‘Jaxx’ Hanover

Guyanese Singer/Songwriter

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