Tobago bandleader unhappy with THA plans for Carnival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Veteran bandleader Marcellin Nedd shows one of her colourful costumes at her mas camp in Scarborough on January 26. – Photo by Corey Connelly

VETERAN Tobago bandleader Marcellin Nedd has been involved in mas practically her entire life.

And for much of it, she has enjoyed considerable success.

But Nedd, 51, claimed within recent years, the entities responsible for the management of Carnival on the island have made the experience burdensome.

In a Newsday interview on January 26 at her mas camp at Gardenside, Scarborough, Nedd complained about the length of time it took the Tobago Festivals Commission to release the island’s Carnival itinerary.

The itinerary was released on the commission’s page late January 25, less than two weeks before Carnival.

She complained there was no J’Ouvert in Scarborough during the festivities. Nedd also felt that the Afro Queen show, a historically popular event, should have been included in the schedule.

Nedd also lamented that, to date, the festival has not been launched in Tobago.

“They want to try to kill Tobago Carnival and focus on October carnival,” Nedd said, alluding to Chief Secretary Farley Augustine’s statement on January 19 that Tobago was in a “transitioning position.”

Augustine, who spoke in a video posted on Facebook, said the plan is to refine the February Carnival to one where it can capitalise on elements in the market that are now being dominated by the Trinidad festival.

Nedd, bandleader of Nedd & Associates, said that in recent years, the Tobago Carnival Bandleaders’ Association has not been responsible for launching the festival.

It is now being launched by the THA through the festivals commission.

“We cannot say we are going and launch Carnival. We are invited. So some bands will carry out one or two characters to say this is what Tobago have to offer.”

She said under the association, they also hosted a street parade from James Park, uptown Scarborough, straight into the capital city.

“Bands used to showcase what we are bringing and they come and cut out these things.”

Last February, Nedd said, the THA hosted a media launch on the Scarborough Esplanade, which some bandleaders participated in.

“Then they had a real launch in Pembroke, in which bands like myself were not invited to take part.”

Saying Tobago’s bandleaders are not given their just due, Nedd said she has contemplated taking her mas to Trinidad.

“I was invited to go and play mas in Trinidad this year but because of the short time span, I ended up telling them to let me leave it for 2025. I think I will be venturing that way. I am not fed up with the mas but the running of it is getting tiresome.”

Nedd said the festivals commission is supposed to perform the role of facilitator for Carnival.

“But through the years they have been running things so we (carnival association) just take a back step.”

Despite the challenges, Nedd said she intends to bring out a junior and adult band.

The junior band, titled We Heritage, highlights various aspects of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture.

It includes elements of African, Chinese, the First Peoples and East-Indian culture. Dame Lorraines, jab jabs and fancy sailors are also part of the presentation. The junior band has five sections.

The senior band is called Gathering of the Tribes.

“I did some research for this presentation and there is a certain time of the year that certain tribes from different countries gather in Panama. I selected three tribes, from Panama, Taiwan and the Philippines. So I will be presenting it with a twist.”