Duke upset with Tobago’s Carnival calendar

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

CHANGES in the national Carnival calendar for Tobago have vexed Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke.

Duke said the removal of the Afro Queen show from the line up of events slated for the island is concerning.

He spoke during a press conference at the PDP’s headquarters in Scarborough after Tobago bandleaders protested unfair treatment towards them.

The bandleaders said they are dissatisfied with the reduced budget, cut in prizes and grants as well as the delayed planning.

He said: “This is passing off as nonsense. I’ve never seen a group of THA executives so disorganised as this group.

“So now people are understanding why I had to pull away from them. Disorganisation would naturally lead to chaos and the downfall of any nation, country or even island.”

With one week to go, he said there is chaos on the island.

“As far as the east, we can hear the people in Roxborough saying, “Where is the Afro Queen show?

“For years, we have had the Afro Queen show. And the response from the executive is silence. They have tried to kill, wash out and destroy that Afro Queen show that has brought in revenue to a rural town called Roxborough.

“I say -‘ wow, is that why persons voted for you all? Is that what you all meant by fixing this? That you would destroy the cculture of Tobago?’ Come on.”

He said there should have been more discussions before the event and any decisions.

He pointed to statements by National Carnival Commission Chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters in a newspaper report that Trinidad’s national Carnival and Tobago’s October Carnival should move towards supporting each other instead of competing.

Peters said Tobago should focus on strengthening its October Carnival product and position itself as a cool-down destination after the Trinidad Carnival season.

He believes this would encourage tourists to stay longer by visiting Tobago after experiencing Trinidad’s Carnival.

“Are we trying to kill Carnival altogether?

“It seems as though we are trying to make Carnival in Tobago something that is a bitter taste in the mouths of Tobagonians.

“If this is what we are doing with monies that we don’t have to pull from our treasury, monies that come from Central Government, if this is what we are doing, sing the bandleaders, singing smut-and-cuss calypsoes, if this is what we’re doin, could you tell us what whe can expect in the future?”

Newsday contacted two of the island’s largest J’Ouvert and mas bands – Iconic Mas and Fog Angels – which confirmed they will not be participating in the national carnival, but instead,are focusing on activities for October’s celebration in Tobago.