Vulgar Fraction pays mas tribute to NUFF

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE mas band Vulgar Fraction’s 2023 presentation National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF) pays tribute to the armed revolutionary guerilla group which operated in the 1970s until it was stamped out by police.

The group operated in the aftermath of the 1970 Black Power Movement in TT.

In 1972 and 1973 NUFF members attacked police posts to acquire weapons, robbed banks, and carried out an insurgent campaign against the government. The government was able to track the group and eventually killed or captured most of its leadership.

A masquerader in Vulgar Fraction’s 2023 mas band NUFF following the band launch in Belmont on Thursday – Catherine Sforza

Eighteen NUFF members, including one woman, Beverley Jones, and three policemen were killed during the insurgency.

Speaking at the launch at the band’s camp at Alice Yard’s Propaganda Space, Erthig Road, Belmont on Friday, creative designer and band leader Robert Young said the inspiration for commemorating the lives and deaths of the people in the group came from a need to protect community life.

“NUFF is about rebellion and about people dreaming, dreaming with their lives, dreaming about a Trinidad that they wanted. I was under ten when that happened, and I remember when Guy Harewood was killed.

“I remember when we did the presentation 70/50, Beverley and Basil Davis were pivotal people in the remembering of that 1970-1973 period and I made a commitment that in 2023 we will celebrate the lives of the living people and the people who were violently killed by the state.

“It’s difficult to think about because we talk about the Haitian and Cuban revolution, we think about it as being grand. People committed big parts of their lives for things to change, and Carnival is the space where you could take something like this as a contradiction, as serious as this, play with it, and offer it up for people to think about. My question now is what is the thing we have to fight for?”

He said extraction has always been a part of the society, through slavery, indentureship, from the land, black bodies, brown bodies, and NUFF felt that this was something that should change.

A masquerader in Vulgar Fraction’s mas presentation NUFF joins the procession following the band launch on Thursday – Catherine Sforza

The band’s costumes are based on the jumpsuits used by CEPEP workers, with branches taking the place of the workers’ emblematic brush cutters.

Young said, “The costumes are revolving around a kind of CEPEP mas, and I always see that and say that’s a phenomenal costume, because the same way the sailor emerged as a costume, that’s a mas that is there that we don’t see.”

“This band is a band where you have to be part of the making of the costume, because the instruments we are using are like wands, are like obeah tools that could zap restoration to the space, or it could have been a gun.”

Young said the mas band would take part in the parade of bands on Carnival Tuesday.

Following a panel discussion which encompassed the history of NUFF, climate change, and TT’s reaction to its changing environment, a procession took place through the streets of Belmont, accompanied by drummers, onlookers and members of the community.

A masquerader in Vulgar Fraction’s mas presentation NUFF joins the procession following the band launch on Thursday – Catherine Sforza

The launch panel and parade can be viewed at

For more information on the band, find Vulgar Fraction on Facebook and Instagram.