Low-key J’Ouvert celebrations in Scarborough

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TOBAGO: A group of revellers from Trinidad enjoyed J’Ouvert with the band, Moon Over Water Sin City, in Crown Point on

THERE was a disappointing turnout of revellers and spectators at J’Ouvert celebrations in Scarborough, Tobago, on Carnival Monday.

At one point during the early stages of the event, there appeared to be more police officers and emergency personnel than spectators. But the crowd improved marginally as the morning wore on. In the end, onlookers got an eyeful as many of the presentations tackled prevailing issues, most notably the recent controversy between Progressive Democratic Patriots political leader Watson Duke and the party’s former deputy leader Kezel Jackson. Jackson resigned from the party last Wednesday, saying she could no longer support Duke as political leader.

Duke, in a Facebook response, revealed he has filed a police report against Jackson, with whom he had shared an intimate relationship, at the San Juan Police Station for alleged assault. After nude photos and videos of her began circulating on social media, Jackson took legal action against Duke for alleged “slander and breach of confidentiality.”

Riley’s Connection appeared before the judges at Old Market Square, Wilson Road, shortly before 5am. The band’s pint-sized female individual masquerader Rehein Riley, portrayed 99% black and on 1% red, alluding to the PDP’s 14 1 landslide victory over the PNM in the December 6, 2021, THA election.She wore all black with a red sock on her right leg.

Next on the stage was Riquelme Riley with Burner Boy. Riquelme, who was also dressed in black, used a miniature ring stove to enhance his presentation. The king of the band, Ricardo Riley, with telescope in hand, portrayed Everybody Peepin while queen Beverly Riley’s costume was titled Drink Water and Mind My Business, reminded the crowd about former PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson Celestine’s victory over Kelvin Charles in the party’s run off election in 2020 as well as “Watson’s pussy cat.”

Dressed as a dame Lorraine, Beverly wore a curly, neon-coloured wig with small, plastic bottles draped about her body. She later appeared in stage with Ricardo to present The Stage In The Sea Was Good For We, referring to the controversy that surrounded the THA’s decision to erect the structure on Milford Road, ahead of Tobago’s inaugural Carnival last October. Philbert Joseph, a male individual in the ole mas category, had onlookers laughing with D Duke Fraid Kizzilee Cat. Joseph used a large ceramic cat as the centrepiece of his presentation.

The Watson Duke-Kezel Jackson debacle was also addressed in the portrayals, When I Grow Up I Want To Be A King Not A Duke and Ah Doh Wah Yuh Pussy Cat Kezel, from AR Talent’s band Family Conflict, led by Anton Roberts. The band’s portrayals also dealt with the previously missing Vindra Naipaul Coolman file, the alleged squandering of money in the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development and obeah in the PDP.

Lisa Wall’s Folk Jabs, from the band City Raw Jabs, highlighted several folklore characters, including Papa Bois, La Diablesse and Douen while Tobago Chocolate Delights and Shore Things Possee’s Mask Quarade The World Around Us, highlighted topical issues. Its sections included Clowns In Parliament, Who Tief De Files, No Wining, Lewd and Disgusting, Paria CoE, Who Is To Blame? And Foreign Investors Behind The Pitch Lake.

Other bands participating in the competition included Geirge Leacock’s A Band Of Independents and Bar Code’s Padang Pang. The latter was led by Alicia Toussaint.

Chairman of the Tobago Mas Bandleaders Jemma Bedlow said she was disappointed with the manner in which the THA handled the J’Ouvert. She said Scarborough should have been the focal point of the celebration. “We sat in principle and agreed to leave out the Crown Pont J’Ouvert and focus in the Scarborough J’Ouvert to bring it back,” she told Newsday. “Lo and behold, people do what they want and here you have Crown Point J’Ouvert and look at Scarborough.” Bedlow said the association had discussed a plan with the line secretary “and we agreed in principle to work on Roxborough and Scarborough J’Ouvert.

“Look at Scarborough. And I am disappointed that we sit as big people and agree with some things and when my back turn, people do what they want, to push out the national Carnival and concentrate in October. That is not fair and right.” She said the organisation will conduct a post mortem after the festival to address its concerns “because I know plenty people are disappointed.” Bedlow also believes the carnival was not properly advertised. She said there was a poor turnout of people at the Roxborough J’Ouvert and at the Windward Afro Queen show on Saturday night.

“Advertising was laxed in this carnival.” Bedlow said she was also disappointed with the late start to J’Ouvert in Scarborough. She added ten bands were registered for the competition in the capital city.