The Carnival Road
June 21, 2024

The Carnival Road

In case there are those among us who are still not sure, there are unmistakeable signs that we have “hit the Carnival Road” to use our colloquial expression. There are the rural Carnivals, which though underfunded are well supported by our people, the many activities, organized and otherwise, and other signs, not all of them positive, which are associated with carnival activities and nationwide festivity.

While there is a significant section of our population which do not engage in nor support carnival, nevertheless it remains an important national festival attracting the participation of tens of thousands of Vincentians, including many who are resident overseas, and attracting visitors. As such it is not just a time of festivity and relaxation, it has become an important economic activity as well, one with the potential of considerable growth.

That potential has been recognized, though not sufficiently exploited at the national level and we should make strenuous efforts to continue to do so, while trying to maintain our unique attractions. It is sad that in recent years some of our local promoters and carnival “entrepreneurs” seem all too willing to ignore our traditions and local specifics in their desire to make maximum profits at minimum costs.

One underutilized area of potential development is our rural mas. This has the exciting possibility of not only spurring economic development in the rural areas but also to incorporate many of our traditions into modern-day carnival. It is no secret that even before we got the craze about “the hottest Carnival”, we had begun to either ignore or push aside elements of our traditional mas.

In the process, aspects of our carnival, rooted in its historical origins and significance, were ignored and shunted aside. It seemed to take the advent of World Cup Cricket to our shores for efforts to be made to revive long neglected features. We do hope that this was not just opportunistic but reflected a realization that those aspects can survive, thrive and even boost the unique features of our national festival.

The issue of funding for rural mas again surfaced this week. Individual efforts at assisting in this regard must be applauded and encouraged, but we must go much further. Funding for carnival and such other efforts as the Gospel Festivals must find a place on the national agenda. The complaints about insufficient financial and material support by the business community and those who thrive on the profits generated by carnival need to be addressed at the national level. We should not have to wait on government to take appropriate measures when we can voluntarily work together in our national interests.

The growth potential, not only economically but culturally as well, is enormous. We will ignore it at our own peril.