2019 was not supposed to be a particularly significant year. It’s not an even number and it does not mark the beginning of a new decade. However, this turned out to be a historic Trinidad Carnival year. With a shakeup in the Soca Monarch leadership, pan bands taking each other to court, and Trinidadians fearing the loss of their culture, the long season was fraught with controversy. But then again, what’s Carnival without bacchanal?
What is Carnival without rum? The two go so well together that songs have been made touting this symbiotic connection. From Lord Invader’s “Rum and Coca Cola” to Machel Montano’s “Bottle of Rum,” there is no denying that rum is as integral to Trinidad’s history as soca is.
Are Caribbean people living abroad losing their culture?
In our first live-stream show, Garvey Campbell of Carnevale Network and I discuss the effect of the generational information gap on Caribbeans abroad. Stay tuned to my Flicks & Pics for more videos from our chats.
2018 had some amazing moments! “Black Panther” blew away audiences around the world. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. fought at the Harper’s Bazaar Icons party. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. Buju Banton was released from prison! I mean, this was an epic year. In the soca world, we also had some iconic moments. Below are my top 5 events of 2018.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am concerned about the state of the soca scene in Brooklyn. I believe that with the lack of venues and deejays opting to forego the 100% soca parties, the scene is on life support. However, Thanksgiving weekend gives me hope that there are those committed to reviving the soca fete experience.
For 34 years Miami Carnival has been the main autumn event for socaholics. However, the increasing popularity of cruises and international events seemed to be attracting the interest and wallets of West Indians stateside. However, if the turnout at this year’s events is any indication, Miami Carnival is not going anywhere.
That being said, there are some improvements that promoters and organizers can make to ensure that this is indeed a can’t-miss event.
The West Indian American Day Carnival Association (say that three times fast) is responsible for producing events throughout the summer that showcase our culture, culminating in the annual Labor Day parade in Brooklyn. However, this year, it was glaringly obvious that many Brooklynites have chosen to avoid the celebration and are, in fact, questioning whether or not WIADCA needs to be dismantled.
Since the Association refuses to engage with anyone, let me anticipate their objections.
In May 2018, Guyana had it's first Carnival. Well, that's not exactly true. Many years ago, a small group called the Jaycees held a 4-day fair in Linden, Guyana, but it soon ceased. Therefore, this is in fact the first Carnival in over 40 years.
This Carnival, however, would be unrecognizable to the originators as it is akin to Trinidad's annual pre-Ash Wednesday celebration. Costumes, mas bands, music, and festivities are elements that were brought over by Trinidad's top promoters (I see you Caesar's Army) and designers. Although the elements may be Trini-influenced, the vibes were distinctly Guyanese.
"Black Panther" and the Idea of Home to Caribbeans Abroad
So, here’s my review of the actual film: IT’S DOPE!
Not only do we get a movie replete with beautiful Black folks, we get to see Caribbean actors in starring roles. But beyond the cast, this film is a must-see for my fellow Caribbeans, especially those living abroad.