Traditional mas still alive

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A red devil in the Traditional Mas competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on February 12. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

TRADITIONAL Carnival characters took centre stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Monday under the shining sun and clear blue skies. Despite the beautiful weather, spectators did not come out in their numbers.

A variety of characters crossed the stage, from the midnight robbers, baby dolls, red devils, La Diablesse and Apache Indians, showcasing Trinidad and Tobago’s vibrant Carnival history.

Thirty-nine bands participated in five categories: creative, original, traditional, fantasy and African, in celebration of tradition and culture, as the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association and the National Carnival Commission hosted their annual Traditional and Conventional Mas Competition.

Masqueraders energetically crossed the stage, with most mainly Mical Teja’s DNA playing, rivalled only by Bunji Garlin’s Carnival Contract.

Six-year-old Kira Alexander, one of the very few children in attendance with her mother, told Newsday she was enjoying the show but was afraid of the Black Indian warriors.

“They look scary, but I like the ladies with the baskets in their hands and with the big bottoms,” she said, referring to a group of dame Lorrianes who held baskets filled with fake fruits earlier from the band Blow Mano Blow in the Miss Mc Carthy Party section.

Krystal Alexander, Kira’s mother, who lives in Arouca, said she wanted to expose her daughter to the traditional art form.

“I don’t want her to think it’s just beads and a bikini. She participated in her school’s carnival costume competition as a fancy sailor. She really enjoyed it. It is our first time coming, usually, after I play J’Ouvert, I stay home and sleep. This year, I decided not to play.”

Alexander said she wished more young children were in attendance.

“The turnout is sad. This is our culture, but maybe people are still in town liming after J’Ouvert and that’s why.” She praised the police, saying she felt safe.

A man who only identified himself as Johanton said he was enjoying the show and believed people were missing out by not being at the savannah. “Maybe it’s the Sahara dust in the air, but the costumes are really nice, and the place has an electric energy in the air. We’ve been through enough in the last few years with the pandemic and all this crime. I’m happy we, as a people, could come out in love.”

This Fancy Indian crosses the stage during the Parade of the bands at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on February 12. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

He hoped that there was a greater audience watching at home on the television. When asked about his favourite character, he jokingly said, “The midnight robber and the women. The women are really my favourite characters.”

He also said he was happy with the government’s investment in Carnival but would like to see the return of Soca Monarch.

“They need to bring Soca Monarch back. Carnival Friday’s just feel incomplete without it.”

One performer from the Berkely Carnival Revolution said he had a great time and was grateful for the people that showed up to support traditional mas.

While Queen’s Park struggled to attract patrons, outside the venue, it was a different story, with large gatherings of spectators liming and drinking, most of whom were J’Ouvert revellers not quite ready to head home. The pre-dawn revellers were seen all throughout the capital.