The 2016 Crop Over season is very much in the air, with the pitching of calypso tents and a few other activities having commenced over the past weeks.
As the month of June progresses, the number of activities will of necessity increase and the buzz associated with one of the most exciting times of the year in Barbados will become even more pronounced.
We note the many quality Crop Over songs on the airwaves, the discussions surrounding the festival in the various media –– negative and positive –– as well as the preparations being made by several entrepreneurs, revellers, artisans, cultural officials, and others, whose initiatives, labour and expertise, the country depends on annually to make this important exercise a success.
Already there have been a few complaints about some of the musical offerings. Some have been critical of certain music videos, others have returned to the age-old debate about the level of decency displayed on the road on Kadooment Day, and what makes for tasteful or tasteless demonstrations of festive fun.
Of course, any debate that serves to make our Crop Over festival better is always welcomed and should be encouraged. Current Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, as well as his many predecessors over the years, has often referred to the millions of dollars generated during the festival and the benefits accrued to Barbados. Thus, any venture of such economic importance should always be targeted to find ways to make it even more profitable.
We are aware that as popular as our festival is, there are still many Barbadians who do not actively take part in any aspect of the annual two to three month extravaganza. This is an area that stakeholders could perhaps examine to see what other attractions are likely to lure more Barbadians into participation.
Our observations of carnivals in Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil, suggest that these annual affairs have basically become part of the DNA of the people of those respective nations. If our Crop Over planners are truly thinking about “growing out” the festival, then everything must be done to include all, or nearly all, Barbadians.
But one area of concern must be addressed and put squarely on the table. Crop Over is a secular festival. To the best of our knowledge and from the historical utterances of the late Julian Marryshow, Livvy Burrowes, as well as Nigel Harper, the festival was never intended to highlight or focus on Christian values, to lead sinners to the altar or save souls from eternal damnation.
Yet, annually we notice complaints from several quarters about the expanse of material used, or in most instances, not used, to construct costumes. We hear protestations about the gyration of hips and the accompanying velocity of movement, the simulation of the sex act [whatever that really means], the influence of the revelry on children who witness the street activities, noise, the absence of God and godliness in the festival, among other gripes.
We would suggest that the responsibility for children of a tender age still rests with their parents and is not abrogated on Kadooment Day or other occasion where expressions of Bacchanalia are to be found. Parents must still supervise their children or place them in an environment where they do not witness or partake in activities deemed unsuitable for their tender years.
We would also suggest that a band of gyrating revellers attired in skimpy costumes has more a place in a secular parade on Kadooment Day than a band walking or chipping conservatively in holy reverence to their Creator.
What we would like more attention paid to is ensuring that our festival is conducted in an even safer environment. We congratulate the Royal Barbados Police Force, Barbados Defence Force, and other ancillary agencies that assist in maintaining law and order during this period, which, in terms of total security coverage, can be a logistically nightmare. We have had a few violent incidents on Kadooment Day –– inclusive of murders –– but generally our protective services have done a tremendous job. Any further improvement would be a bonus.
We would also like to see an even greater enabling environment where performers and other stakeholders reap even bigger reward from their input into the festival. We would generally like to see an even greater embrace of a festival that is uniquely ours.
Often, rather than direct our energies towards being positive, we waste tremendous time and energy in the national pastime of complaining. Yes, often we doth complain too much.