R. Rose - Eye of the Needle
February 28, 2020

Boosting small business and keeping carnival traditions alive

Congratulations to the Interactive Media Ltd., Publishers of this newspaper, for its wonderful effort in promoting and encouraging the efforts of our entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises, farmers and artisans through the third staging of its Best of SVG (People’s Choice) Awards on Sunday, Feb. 16th.In particular, no praise is too much for the hardworking and creative efforts of the management and staff of SEARCHLIGHT and all those who made the event such an outstanding success.

That success was best manifested in the wide participation of the public in the online voting process as well as the attendance and enthusiasm shown by the prize winners, the other nominees and the public at the event itself. Contributing largely were the guest artistes and the skilful managing of the evening’s proceedings by co-hosts Candice Sealey and Dexter Rose.

The growing popularity of this innovative initiative is clearly having an impact on our entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses and young persons in these categories. It is helping to foster a striving for excellence which is so necessary in today’s competitive world. Having established this process, efforts must now be made to deepen and widen it. It would be more than useful, even essential I would say, to forge some sort of partnership with relevant agencies such as Invest SVG and the Chamber of Commerce, to develop the initiative further.


For those countries around the globe which still celebrate a pre-Lenten Carnival, the festivities are now over and it is back to the normal daily grind. That includes Trinidad and Tobago, still the premier Carnival in the Caribbean and a global attraction.

It was pleasing to note the initiative of the local Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) to utilize the opportunity to promote our own Vincy Mas there by sending a delegation to do first-hand promotion. It was also reassuring to note the comments by CDC Chairman Ricardo Adams that Carnival is not just all about bare-breasting and drunkenness and that masqueraders can be appropriately attired and have fun just the same.

Incentives can be offered to encourage other types of portrayals. Indeed the CDC itself must take blame for virtually pushing the traditional mas out of our Festival. It began in the ’60s when bit by bit the traditional “Ole Mas’ was sidelined on Carnival Monday in favour of T-shirt bands when both could have been accommodated.

It proved to be a slippery slope along which slid in later years the small bands with their traditional mas – war mas (the late Owen Ralph complained about this), cowboys and Indians, the African mas, “Wild Indians” Maypole dancers and so on. Everything became lumped together, killing off the roots of our mas.

By contrast Trinidad and Tobago still has a healthy traditional mas sector, the full works. It is especially important to keep alive the roots of our Carnival celebrations, celebrating our African and indigenous ancestry. What can the CDC do to facilitate the revival? Can it help in reviving the Carnival Tuesday morning activities at Victoria Park? The least we can do is to give it some serious thought.

Whilst on the theme of Trinidad Carnival, there were many positives emerging this year. Foremost among these was the dominance of female calypsonians in the Calypso Monarch competition. Five of the 12 finalists were female and the first three in the competition were all women. Terri Lyons, daughter of soca master Superblue, became the fifth female Calypso Monarch . She led a clean sweep of the top three places by the female bards, with Karene Asche and Heather McIntosh following in that order. It was the first time that women took all three top spots.

What was also interesting and most encouraging was the range of topics, the quality of the delivery and the depth of the social commentary. Terri Lyons did a creative reverse invocation of Sparrow’s Congo Man theme, “Ah never eat a white meat yet”, to comment on the action of Britain’s Prince Harry to place his black bride before royal privilege, in a classical rendition entitled “Meghan My Dear”. Other outstanding renditions came from veteran calypso bard Chalkdust who reminded Trinis that calypso does not belong to them alone, with his “Migrants in Calypso” tracing the contributions of Caribbean greats, including our own Jaguar, Duke, Prowler, Fire Empress and his own Vincy roots; while Heather McIntosh commented on the controversy over the staging of a fashion show, bikini and all, in the Anglican church last November.

Finally, what can we learn from the discussion about how to get back pan on the road during Carnival. Having been “outboomed” by the glaring DJ sounds, pan has been confined to Panorama. But in T&T a successful attempt was made on Carnival Monday night to stage a pan jam in St James, allowing pan fans to be able to enjoy pan on the road and giving small steelbands the opportunity to play for crowds on the road. Can we give some thought to a similar idea (at the old E.T. Joshua airport compound?) as well as a Jouvert Bomb competition? What about it CDC?

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.