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Traditional mas disappearing in Sando

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Mud players during J’Ouvert celebrations along Harris Promenade, San Fernando, yesterday. Photo by:Tony Howell

Traditional J’Ouvert in San Fernando almost hit rock bottom yesterday as only veteran mas band Blue Boys registered for the competition.

Apart from three individual masqueraders and a mud band that accompanied Union Hall Southlanders, there wasn’t ole time mas’ for spectators gathered at the Harris Promenade judging point.

There were, however, sweet steel pan music from Caribbean Airlines’ Skiffle, who remained on a high after placing second in the National Panorama competition on Saturday.

Band leader of Blue Boys, Val Ramsingh told the T&T Guardian that tradition mas has been dying since a former mayor introduced the modern category to J’Ouvert.

Although his band featured a few youngsters, he said young people were no longer interested in traditional mas and preferred to play in the modern bands.

“San Fernando has Limerz Krew with 1,500 people, Dev’s Barbershop has 11 trucks and in Blue Boys, we sold 21 jerseys. Last year we sold 35 jerseys, five years ago we sold 100 jerseys. Understand the process we’re talking about. This is not an accident.

One must understand the history of why this has come to past. Kalypso Revue tent closed down. Why? Understand that things take time to be destroyed, things take time to be built and it is a process. We used to have seven and eight tradition J’Ouvert old mas bands. Where are they today?”

Blue Boys didn’t fail to entertain, though, as they had the audience in stitches with their presentation of Blame it on De PP. From humorous portrayal’s of the A&V Drilling “fake oil” scandal to Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe’s high roaming charges and Chief Justice Ivor Archie’s friendship with ex-convict Dillian Johnson, almost all the hot topics of the past year were featured.

Deputy mayor Vidya Mungal-Bissessar, who launched the celebrations at 5.30 am, said a greater focus has to be placed on traditional mas. Mungal-Bissessar said that as a start, the judging of tradition mas has returned to the promenade where there is a niche for that category.

“It will take some time, yes, it will take some more focus.The good thing is that we have the live streams, we have the people sharing on Facebook live, WACK radio is here so we’re going international and people are seeing that we’re back to the old time thing.

I think it will encourage people again, providing the seating, which is key. People want somewhere comfortable and fit to be able to see everything, look at everything. We will work out the kinks, but we’re off to a good start,” Mungal Bissessar said.

Old Tech Steel Orchestra and Southern All Stars did their part to appease pan lovers, but it was Caribbean Airlines’ Skiffle that “raised the roof” with their performance of Kes’ mega-hit Hello.


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