I was a country boy of almost 21 when I migrated to Toronto, but almost immediately after my arrival there I began to notice the disposition in Guyanese to improvise, to fix things, to repair and recondition, which was not nearly so widespread in the Canadian community where there was a tendency to discard and buy new, instead of restoring or repainting or patching up.
To be living in Guyana and coping with the daily dysfunctions in this and that, is to notice that while we are aware of the various big projects needing attention, the creeping feeling of despair rather comes from the small malfunctions that seem to confront us – some of them going on for years – on a daily basis.
This past week, even as we mourn the loss of calypsonians Lord Canary here, and of King Austin in Trinidad, the subject of calypso as an art form is again getting traction with comments by Trinidad & Tobago President Anthony Carmona delivering the feature address at the Top 20 Stars of Gold Show presented by the country’s National Action Cultural Committee (NACC).
I haven’t noticed much mention of it but in the recent maelstrom emanating from Donald Trump’s run at the US Presidency, it is striking how much the choice of words coming from various persons in the campaign confuses the issues completely.
As a youngster growing up in Guyana and going to Saints, my friend Stanley Greaves (yes, the painter) had introduced me to (I hope I have the name right) the British Council Library in Georgetown.
Anyone who is fascinated, as I am, perhaps even enthralled, by Caribbean history, would have to have noticed our disposition for disregarding what has gone before.
I came into music at a time when comedy was a big ingredient in the popular music of the Caribbean.
Our esteemed Kaieteur News pundit Adam Harris, known for his daily fanciful dissertations, has dealt with some intriguing subjects in his time, but I cannot let Brother Adam’s recent comment on persons wearing “dark glasses” pass unchallenged.
I did a television interview here recently along with Al Creighton and Ron Robinson on the subject of the arts as a propellant for social cohesion.
This week as the world is agog with the outstanding track performances by Jamaican athletes in the Rio Olympics, it’s interesting to reflect on the remarkable ability of this relatively small nation to produce such a high standard in athletics.
One of my earliest awareness moments upon my return to live in Guyana (I have mentioned it before) took place in a visit to a major hardware store in Georgetown in search of some half-inch bolts to secure the posts of a wood fence.
Most people I meet have this impression that the life of a travelling musician – as we say, “on the road” – is one big joyful experience, seeing new cities and countries, playing before ecstatic crowds, doing well financially, meeting famous people, after hours parties, nuff woman and food and drink, as well as the harder stuff, with the pattern repeated more or less every day, on and on.
Like so many Guyanese who have migrated to North America, I have a special place in my heart for Canada as the place where I matured as a person and developed as a song-writer and a band-leader.
Patrons of the current T20 matches in the CPL, whether at the stadiums or via television, are witnessing a non-stop array of diversions – carnival outfits; steelband music; scantily clad dancers; one-handed catches by spectators; individual mask contests; etc – that mostly begin before the first ball has been bowled and often continue long after.
In a recent column I made a passing reference to a comment from Stabroek News writer Alan Fenty who had posed the question in his column whether “one could be Guyanese – spiritually and culturally – without being Indian, African, European or Chinese?” I answered Alan at the time saying the answer is “no, because we are made up of all these strands from other places, plus the Amerindian one, so to be truly Guyanese you have to see all those strands as part of you.” However, I felt at the time that his comment called for more elaboration, hence my effort today.
I keep jottings of various things I come across in communications with persons or in various readings or observations.
This week the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is back with us as the matches begin at Warner Park in St Kitts, and the second one, with Guyana’s Amazon Warriors meeting the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, was a thriller.
Like most folks in the cultural field, I’m invited to various events or preludes to events, but since I’m not the most social of folks, I will generally pass.
Guyana’s music industry remains troubling to those of us involved in it, and while the issues surrounding intellectual property rights, including the contentious copyright aspect, are a key part of it, the problems are varied and complex.
I was in Barbados performing some time ago and a young lady interviewed me and asked about my approach to music and to song-writing and arranging and so on.
In the midst of the daily complaints in the media about this problem and that, it’s a relief to sometimes see the bright spots.
From time to time in our local press, we are reminded of the rich diverse strains that make up what we refer to as Guyanese culture, and in most of those reminders we are asked to rightly reflect on the fact that right alongside that attractive span we see the disturbing signs of ethnic division among our people.