For weeks we were overwhelmed with those who profess to know all about these things analyzing every detail of calypso songs and arguing over which calypso is better than which other and who wrote the better constructed song and who did not, The ladies and gents too had their fun dissing one queen contestant or other and announcing to the world their choice for the crown in the Miss Dominica contest. Then it is all over and the analysis centers around the winners and of course the judges. The backers of the ones who lost go through the annual ritual of putting down the judges of the competitions and satisfy their anger that way while the Catholic Bishop is just happy that the few violent stabbings brought the music to his ears. He obviously expected more but hoped for less and got it.
The thing about these competitions is that the day after few if any remember those who did not win at the top. The names of the calypso singers who did not make it are quickly forgotten and the young ladies at the bottom of the list in the results of the queen show fade away as if they never existed. But how do these losers feel- well like losers and we the people do not help with our caustic remarks. For months they practiced and rehearsed, spent sleepless nights, tons of nervous and anxious moments, braved the cruel criticism of friend and foe, the derision of those who are envious and those who never become involved except to criticize others, the unforgiving eye of those who never participate but “just come to see.”
It takes a whole lot of guts and sacrifice for anyone to offer to be under the scrutiny of open competition on a stage before thousands and in particular young ladies mostly unaccustomed to this competition who must walk properly, be well fitted, well shaped, dress appropriately, answer long inane questions intelligently constantly examining themselves even as they walk and speak. By the time the so called media experts who know everything about anything are finished with them they feel like utter failures.
But then what is a failure? Not just someone who did not make it but one who never tried. The ladies and gents who may regard themselves as failures may take comfort from this thought. According to European history our island was discovered by failures who together gave the world the term,” New World.” When Columbus could not find a crew to make the adventurous journey of finding a new route to India he went to the jails and decrepit places to get the number of sailors he needed. In those days people believed the world was like a flat table and if you sailed too far away from the known routes you were likely to fall off the edge. The jailbirds, criminals, thieves and scavengers Columbus finally had to take with him were already failures having nothing to lose and so with a promise of freedom from further punishment in jail travelled with him to discover the “New World.” Without those who failed there would have been no real show and with just the four top calypsonians performing the Calypso Association could not charge more than $100 for a seat in the VIP lounge.
So while, we celebrate the winners let us raise a hat for those who lost- for Ras Kelly, Derose, Soul Puss, Black Diamond, Elektra, and not her Dad but her husband Daddy Chess and also Ghetto Prince who could not participate due to illness. For the brave young ladies who have already been taken off the news channels and who lost in the queen competition- Melinda Ulysses and Fatima Noel you have our love. All those who participated in the various competitions including those who did not go past the preliminaries are to be admired for their bravery and the fact that they show up the rest of us who are too scared or uninspired to walk the walk.
A young lady in conversation lamented that the talk shows do not pay much attention to the queen show and I had to tell her that there was a time when everything including the flashy prizes went to the Queen show which was classed as an uppers event and calypso had to be satisfied with a couple hundred dollars for top prize. Calypso was regarded as “zafaire neg” best used for road marches and whatever remnants of the purse we got should make us happy. I spoke and spoke but to no avail and it seemed that I had failed. But to me failure was not an option and in the mid-ninetiesI led a revolution albeit unpopular with the calypso lovers and withdrew all the Gaylords Tent competitors on the very morning of the Finals. Since the Tent included the great Breaker, Bingo and Spencer it meant that the Finals Show would be ruined. To cut to the chase I was called into a hurriedly convened meeting at the Fort Young Hotel and all my conditions were met and approved which started the understanding among we the people of the power of calypso. If you want to get more attention ladies move on it.
The carnival stage even more than the World Creole Music Festival showcases individual talent. The men and women who stand on that stage to be judged by everyone stand there alone. With the bright lights of the stage and TV producers blinding them they rarely have any idea how they are being received. It is a credit to our youth that we started the journey to the 2013 Monarch of calypso with more than 70 entrants and the Queen Show with 18. This is good news for us who fear the motions of our young people in a world of Pappas and easy drug money. For those who think they failed be assured you did not. Just like the crew of Columbus were considered failures yet opened the way to a New World, your efforts showed the way to a new hope for the youth of Waitikubuli and for that you are winners. Congratulations!