EYEWITNESS: Double standards…

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…on “vulgarity”

Over in Carnival Land, folks are all riled up about what constitutes “vulgarity” in their emblematic art form of Calypso. Now that’s more than a bit ironic, isn’t it? Calypso

ORIGINATED in Trinidad when slaves wanted to tell-off their “massas” in the most ribald terms. They got away with it under the cover of the Carnival brought over by the French planters who’d fled the revolution in Haiti. Obviously it was heavily influenced by surviving African customs and cultures.

It became praised as the “people’s newspaper” when social commentary became “the thing” and everyone became fair game for their bubbles and pretentions to be pricked and punctured. The tradition of Calypso provided a space for “Chutney” to develop in the Indian-Trinidadian community. Soca (SOul-CAlypso) was another derivation, which added some Chutney/Indian influences to the two acknowledged genres. The “Chutney-Soca Monarch” joined the “Calypso Monarch” as the crowning achievement in these “art forms”.

But this year, up comes this Chutney singer Neermal “Massive” Gosein who releases a composition “Rowley Mudda Count” which was promptly banned from entering the extremely lucrative Chutney Monarch Competition, claiming the double entendre, “Mudda Count” (get it?) is disrespectful to Prime Minister Rowley’s mother. The PNM’s women’s wing denounced the composition as also being disrespectful to women in general and mothers in particular. More troubling was the Telecommunications Authority of TT (TATT) warning broadcasters about playing the ‘derogatory” song.

“Massive” promptly cried “FOUL”!! and pointed out that for years Calypsonians had been allowed to get away with double entendre-laden calypsos directed at women in general and women politicians in particular without criticisms. They were protected by “freedom of speech” and allowed “artistic licence”. Massive specifically mentioned one calypso on Oma, the wife of then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday – “Oma AcCOUNT BIG”! or Crazy’s “Yer Mudda Come”.

He also pointed out that Rowley himself was famous for misogynic statements: “he compared women to a golf course that needs grooming; referring to a 65-year-old woman by using the term “Jammetery”; telling a woman, she could bark at meh dog, because I goh ignore she cyat.” Massive finally concluded that it wasn’t just a matter of “different strokes for different folks” but a matter of different standards for different ethnic groups. Africans, he said, could make scatological comments about Indians – women and men – and that was “poetic” but when he as an Indian Chutney singer does no less – it’s “vulgar”!

Over here in Guyana, your Eyewitness wonders if the same sociological imperatives are at work, when Simona “I is” Broomes can “boom out” against Jagdeo in Parliament without reproach; but the latter is “vulgar” when his MP’s raise placards there.

…on inclusive democracy

When the coalition was in the Opposition, one of their major talking points that gained traction in the general populace was on “constitutional change” that would make the political system become more “inclusive”. By and large, Guyanese of all stripes know that while the coalition may have “won” the elections in 2015, Guyana has LOST because the PNC-led coalition Government has broken their promise to include the Opposition in their governance structure. To a large extent, the present malaise gripping the country is a consequence of the PNC’s insistence of tightly monopolising the reins of power.

The PNC has clearly reverted to form in this area. When Burnham was eased into office in1964, he not only chafed at the bits to get rid of the UF. He effectively banished the members of the UDP – which his faction of the PPP had coalesced with to form the PNC. Carter and Kendall were given foreign ambassadorships which took them out of the local play.

Witness the fate of the AFC and WPA today.

…on agri development

Have you noticed which rural coastal villages are being drained and irrigated? Or that the big bucks for agri are now directed towards the interior savannahs?
Burnham always said “last licks better than first licks”.

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