Trinidad And Tobago Wake Up!

By Basia Alicia Powell

Dear Trinidad and Tobago,

I need you to wake up. (I am not sure who to address this letter to, so I am just going to address it to the nation of my beautiful twin island Republic). A week or so ago, I was watching The Real Housewives Of Atlanta, (my guilty pleasure) when the ladies went to Toronto Carnival, upon receiving an invitation from “Friend to the Housewives”, Tanya Sam. I heard our soca music playing in the background, so I immediately became excited. 💃

Initially I felt proud that our music and culture was being promoted. Well, I had no idea that I could go from excited to angry in a few seconds. It was like when you thought your boyfriend was going to propose with a ring, and instead he bought you a pair of earrings that fit in a ring box‼ That is how I felt when I saw Tanya and company from RHOA appropriate our culture, music, legacy and pass it off as Canada’s top attraction. Not only was I angry, but I was hurt.

What was worst is the fact that RHOA’S Porsha Williams mentioned other popular carnivals around the world in her confessional, like Nothinghill Carnival etc and left out Trinidad and Tobago’s. (They are not even half as great as Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival.)

It was a painful episode to watch. No mention of the country and people that put Carnival and soca music on the map. They even showed a clip of Trinidad’s Soca Artist Kes, posing with the ladies for a photo, with a caption, “Soca Artist”. He is Trinidadian yo! He is not from Canada! They left viewers with that impression.

📷 Kes Instagram

They were dancing and having the best time to all the soca music written and produced in Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the Caribbean where many great artistes are from. Songs like Famalaylay and Savannah Gras were featured. There was no mention of Crop Over Festival in Barbados , Vincy Mas, Grenada and Jamaica Carnival and the list goes on.

I am writing this article and I am still mad. Should I be mad at them though? Or should I be mad at Trinidad and Tobago tourism authority? My crew and I attend most of the major Carnivals around the world each year, and I feel there are many things about Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival that cannot be replicated, like our steelband competition, our culture shows, our Calypso Tents and the list goes on.

My concern however, is the fact that our parties, costume parades and among other aspects are being rebranded and repackaged by other countries who attempting a similar attraction to show people a good time. Jamaicans would never allow anyone to appropriate reggae music and their culture. The Jamaican culture is so strong, they carry it wherever they go. No one can steel it from them. I dare you to try. Why do you think you have a place in Brooklyn called Jamaica Queens?

So Trinidad and Tobago, as I said before, somebody needs to wake up. Everyone seems to be living in a vacuum and they are not paying attention to the fact that people are stealing the most valuable cultural possession the country possesses. We do not have major tourism attractions and resorts like Jamaica and Barbados etc. Tobago offers beautiful beaches, but not multiple resorts. We have oil (sometimes) and Carnival, period!

Carnival is Trinidad and Tobago’s number attraction. No other nationality parties like Trini’s, except my Jamaican husband and my Nigerian cousin-in-law married to my Trini cousin. On a serious note though, we are notorious for partying in Trinidad. We party for two months straight. No other country in the world can do that. We party and go to work and go straight from work to another party.

We party so hard we have our own names for partying. If it is a small party, it is called a “lime” and if it is a big party it is called a “fete”. During carnival time in Trinidad, we don’t remember our problems. We get depressed from Ash Wednesday and start feeling better by Christmas because our Carnival season is just around the corner! Why do you think all other carnivals around the world happen after Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival? They are waiting on our music, artistes and costumes to be able to have their Carnival. We lead the race and we set the pace.

So don’t believe what you saw on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Toronto Carnival cannot happen if Trinidad and other Caribbean soca artistes don’t release music and if our artisans do not design and create costumes. We run the Carnival scene. If our soca artistes went on strike, everyone all over the world would have to dance to pop music, and trust me, it is not the same.

Trinidadians, if you allow other first world countries to steal our thunder when it comes to Carnival, we will be in trouble. Lets face it, tourists will not come to Trinidad just to eat bake and shark, and then have to buy an additional ticket to go to Tobago to the beach. However, our Carnival, our soca and pan music keeps them coming back for more! It is addictive and intoxicating all at the same time. Hands down, the best in the world.

Also, if the Trinidad and Tobago government does not hurry up and make the pan yard experience and Calypso tents a year round attraction, somebody else will. You don’t have to listen to me, but I mean well. Please wake up and protect our culture. They are trying to steal it. We need to market it more aggressively. Why are you not doing Carnival trip giveaways on Good Mornig America etc? Bring A-list celebrities and contract them to feature their entire trips on their Instagrams ? We have to get social media aggressive about our birth rite and protect our cultural legacy.

If you don’t believe me, just buy a ticket and come. And just ask Usain Bolt, he is there every year.You won’t be sorry. Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival is “di business”.

Cheers

BASIA✌🏽💗

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