If Jesus the Christ would have walked into this church he would have been greeted with a yelling voice commanding him and everyone of the faithful attendees to “Make some noise, everybody scream.” This would slam into his ear with a vengeance and would he have screamed? The effect of it was sending the church into wild hysterics. Church faithful were punching the air with loud exclamations of ‘amen’ and other words of praise and at least one person I heard babbling and seemed to be speaking in tongues or something.
Jesus would have thought he had walked into a carnival concert and would expect to hear Jammer B, and Shadowflow. On the floor some Christian sisters were shaking ample body assets in Jesus name all overseen by the pastor on a platform and well, “who vex loss.” Now and then I just caught the name Jesus in the church band’s noisy presentation. It would be interesting to know what Jesus would have done. Would he accept the explanation given to me by a church member afterwards that there were many ways to praise Jesus and the youth will not like the old holy ways of more serene singing to the accompaniment of an organ? Youth wanted action and if the church did not give it to them they would not come to Jesus and so if carnival style music had to be used to bring them in why not?
In other words the worldly ways condemned by the Christian church were the very ways used to attract young people to Him. This is not a riddle, it is a fact. Rock, Hip Hop, and other “worldly” beats once were scorned by churches claiming that they were the product of Satan.
In Waitikubuli and indeed other places, the largest church has tied itself to a worldly event –carnival. The interest and influence of the Catholic Church is being held out as a good reason for not shifting the carnival season to a more comfortable time of year. This year as with other similar years when the Lenten season, the holiest season of the Catholic Church, comes up early the carnival season is cramped into an impossibly short four weeks run to end almost as soon as it begins. What the church is tied to is bachannal and revelry and sometimes raucous calypso music, yet some church members will insist that no way should that kind of action be divorced from the church’s after carnival Ash Wednesday blessing
I love all music but to me the World Creole Music Festival in October and the calypso competition a few days before Ash Wednesday are Waitikubuli’s signature musical events. There are such competitions elsewhere but what distinguishes us is the calypso theatre on the night of the finals. The choreographers present masterpiece theatrical productions to support the lyrics of the songs and I do believe a special award should be given on that night to the best such production regardless of the results of the competition. My problem is that because the carnival and calypso season is stifled by church tradition the considerable talent of our mainly young people is short-circuited under the weight of the dictates of the Catholic Church’s calendar.
I also have another problem. After decades of carnival what we end up with is a carnival city with tarpaulin walls, ticket booths jammed into a long steel container originally designed to hold sea transported cargo, makeshift bars and stalls, a sprinkling of tents planted with a hope and prayer that we do not have a very windy night, faded advertising flags, a hurriedly erected stage, a main gate entrance that could easily become waterlogged in the event of rain together with grounds that could become muddy and was set up for sports and not trampling crowds of thousands night after night on carnival week.
Is this how we treat the patrons that also come from overseas just for the festivities? After all these years can we not find some money to build a special place to hold our two main festivals which are our foremost tourism events? Carnival is a money making event for the national treasury just counting the exit tax at the ports and VAT with the potential to make much more if proper attention is paid to this resource.
The time has come to ask hard questions about our festivals and in particular carnival which shuts down the business community for two straight days. Can we make investments in it and make it pay? Carnivals have come and gone but the old problems remain. The management of our festivals is the big overpowering question.
Can our Festivals Committee take on the challenge and the painful difficulties of making change happen? Or is this a boring subject because criticisms and complaints have been voiced and written year after year and yet after all these years carnival is still not a product of anything with its only goal being a self indulgent road song “We only come for de rum and de party”
Which would steer it away from of the church embraced and promoted celebration of the Christmas season.
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