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Caribbean

Published on February 16th, 2014 | by Raffique Shah - Trinidad Express Newspapers

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Weapon of mass distraction

Two or three Carnivals ago, when Pan Trinbago introduced an exclusive party zone to the people’s Panorama, I protested, warning that the organisation that was supposed to protect and promote pan was instead disrespecting pannists and the national instrument.  Today, my worst fears have materialised. The centrepiece of our Carnival, the sweet sounds of steel that make us overwhelmingly different to other street carnivals around the globe, is being strangled to death by its step-parents and care-givers in a macabre ritual of death by friendly fire, or better put, “pano-cide”.

By being complicit in staging a pool party for the well heeled who know and care only about partying, not pan music, those who are responsible should hang their heads in shame—if they have any. Just how a pool party on Panorama’s biggest day (yes, the ‘semis’ are bigger than the finals) interests or encourages young people in the national instrument, as I’ve heard Pan Trinbago officials say, defies logic. Can Keith Diaz and his motley crew seriously look into the faces of the thousands of young people, many of them secondary school pupils, who sacrifice so much of their studying and partying time to learn, practise and play pan music for love of the instrument, love of country, and tell them that crap?

I have long argued that the one aspect of our culture that has a secure future through the active involvement of so many youths and females is pan music. When, up to a few years ago, I made the rounds at panyards in and out of the Carnival season, I was very impressed with the young pannists who displayed discipline, dedication and that yearning for excellence in their craft.

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