Culture, Cricket and Calypso

Tuesday, 10 March 2015, was a day unlike any other; it was the quintessential Caribbean day, featuring culture, cricket and calypso.

The day was also unique because it didn’t necessarily feature the expressions of culture and calypso on a performing stage, neither the battle of bat and ball on the field of play.

There was a heavy academic and cerebral component to the day.

It began with a meeting at local tertiary institution TAMCC to discuss the facilitation of a group of students from Georgia State University later this year as they explore Grenada’s religious, political and cultural history. The under-featured ties to our African ancestry will be of keen interest to the young minds as they undertake a three-week course in the Isle of Spice. The meeting gave one reason to pause and reflect on the lack of inclusion of our own history in the present schools’ curriculum. It is almost as if we are afraid to look into our past, to celebrate our achievements, to honor, to assign blame, to allow for the avoidance of past mistakes. We should not continue to allow Non-Nationals to be more interested in our unique history, in the journey, trans-Atlantic and otherwise, that has crafted our norms and expressions. A sustained, in-depth intellectual discourse on that journey will not only inform decisions on the future of Grenada but also heighten the awareness of the unique experience of being Grenadian, living in Grenada or in any way associating with Grenada and Grenadians.

The next part of the day was spent in the presence of the newly re-elected President of the West Indies Cricket Board, Dave Cameron. The frank and impassioned discussion about the region’s game was refreshing. Notwithstanding the present issues and challenges ahead the energy of Mr Cameron and the commitment to regaining world dominance is indeed encouraging. The global sporting frame-work has changed significantly and rapidly since the days of West Indian domination on the field of play. Unfortunately our systems in the region have not kept up with those changes and our inability to do so is continuously reflected on the field of play.

Administratively we continue to be very weak with inflated egos and personality conflicts taking the place of policies and institutional strengthening. Interestingly, our track and field athletes continue to dominate while the team sports with organizations such as CONCACAF and the WICB continue to struggle. There is hope for cricket and one is hopeful that with a new mandate, Mr Cameron is provided with the pre-requisite support in the interest of the development of the game in the region. The Caribbean is a much better place when our Boys do well and how well they do depends on how quickly we can swallow our collective pride and suppress our political agendas.

Appropriately the day ended with Calypso. And the illustrious Dr Hollis Liverpool delivered a stupendous lecture on Calypso and Caribbean Identity. The efforts of Dr Nicole Phillip-Dowe and the staff of the UWI Open Campus must be recognized and applauded in initiating and successfully hosting the inaugural Carol Bristol Distinguished Lecture Series. The Mighty Chalkdust was phenomenal in his presentation; he is a walking encyclopedia, a source of invaluable information and true Caribbean treasure. It was inspirational to hear Dr Liverpool admonish Caribbean leaders to acknowledge the role of the Calypsonian and to recognize their roles as the voice of the people, as the one entrusted with the responsibilities of keeping the Caribbean politician ‘in check’.

Calypso in Grenada is in a perpetual comatose state, in fact culture generally is. The cultural fraternity and those engaged in the creative industries note with interest the Prime Minister’s outline to reform the operations of statutory bodies in accordance with the Home Grown Programme. The wastage and personal interest among the cultural institutions is appalling and the new measures could only serve to ensure monies allocated for cultural development is not spent on frivolous endeavors such as Christmas in the gardens (which is still in the red) or trips to Carriacou to ‘observe’ the carnival celebrations, without institutional input. In fact in the two years of such observations the carnival product on the Sister Isle has declined. Money not well-spent.

Add our cultural heritage and local history to the school curriculum, make cricket more attractive not only to younger Caribbean Nationals (the future stars) but also to an audience weary of losing but still hopeful and play more calypso on radio, honor our stalwarts and remove the political interference from this very crucial, indigenous art-form so that days such as Tuesday, 10 March would not be an anomaly but a normal, regular and wonderful day where the best of Grenada and the Caribbean can be appreciated and experienced.

Made in Grenada

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