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Trinidad and Tobago

Published on September 6th, 2016 | by wired868.com

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Martin Daly SC: How does steelpan fit in violent, troubled T&T?

Preparing a column for publication today was a difficult task because of the paradox of the visible joy when citizens congregate for a street lime but under which lies the deep grief of a murderous, contact driven and unjust society. Why are we having such a good time in celebration of an anniversary of Independence immediately preceding a crisis meeting between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the subject of violent crime? And should we be? Thursday separated Wednesday’s 54th anniversary of Independence and Friday’s meeting of the opposing political leaderships. The happy vibe of a Saturday Pan on the Avenue parade was punctuated but not punctured by the tears of the birdsong eviction.

Do we have a situational paradox in which our party mood undermines our ability to seek and implement solutions to our problems and yet those problems have not overwhelmed us to the point of a failed state perhaps because we congregate publicly to party well? The anniversary celebration sweeps the streets of Port of Spain every year. “Nation’s joy” proclaimed one front-page headline. It is not a proclamation that can be contradicted when the streets along the military parade route are thronged with large crowds and every nook and cranny holds a brunch. This year, 2016, Newtown Playboys put on a massive entertainment, high quality singers inside the yard and brilliant steel orchestras in the street. Taking the Pan on the Avenue parade and the Independence Day parade together there was unbridled and trouble free joy everywhere, persons hitherto un-introduced breaking into conversations stimulated by the spontaneous desire to comment to each other on the music and other sights and sounds.

Then some conversations turn to more serious subjects, particularly violent crime such as I had briefly with two gentlemen whose chairs were on the pavement next to mine and who had recently been held up in a group of five gathered at the home of mutual friends. These casual conversations hold a particular significance for me because of the interaction between a columnist and the citizens, the real people, for whom one writes. The mingling at the Pan on the Avenue event happily included representatives of younger generations, no doubt comfortable among the pan because of their familiarity with the bars and clubs on the Avenue. Another constant, striking feature of the pan is the youthfulness of the players, even among some big name bands. It is not necessary to repeat at length that occupying these youngsters in music can keep them away from gangs and guns.

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