COMMENTARY: Showdown at Mas Camp

Alex Bruno has competed as a calypsonian and emceed calypso shows 

We have arrived at a critical stage with the Dominica Cultural industries.

The Showdown Mascamp was kicked off their contractual arrangements with the National Cultural Council (NCC) for the staging of the 2019 Calypso Tent just two weeks into their seven-week season.

The reason for this abrupt termination was listed as the seeming urgent construction of a new stage at the Old Mill Cultural Centre. This was the message from Mr. Lawrence who informed Mas Camp’s management that he had been instructed to inform them of the new developments.

Organizers of the official carnival event had already hosted two consecutive Friday night shows at the Old Mill Cultural Centre in Canefield, before being informed of the instruction which had been handed down through Raymond Lawrence, to discontinue the contractual arrangements with them.

What this means is that, Calypso, which is the crown jewel of Dominica’s carnival festivities, was unceremoniously removed from its home – the Dominica Cultural Center. The situation further raises the concern that there appears to be a major disconnect between the management of the Cultural Division and the authorities especially as relates to planning.

How could the Dominica Cultural Division, through the NCC, schedule a cultural event at the Old Mill and not know that there was an approved and scheduled construction project, carded to begin during the second week of a seven-week contractual term? This situation is careless at the least and it is highly suspect.

I am not one to speculate, but things just do not align. Those who believe that the circumstances surrounding this showdown are merely coincidental are free to be so disposed, but my spirit is a bit troubled about how this episode went down. When this case is examined alongside the many other similar instances where the ‘authorities’ have gotten involved, one cannot help but to be concerned.

It would appear that the authorities do not plan well and that is terrible. The authorities and those who represent them, have displayed a propensity for intolerance and/or lack of appreciation for certain established conventions, and one hopes that this is not the case here. Let me document my dissatisfaction with and strong protest against that recent episode which may very well be part of a continuing trend. Then again it might not be, but all the same, this treatment to Kaiso was unwarranted.

However, because, I am not in a position to conclude that there may be some form of partisan political agenda behind the booting of Kaiso [Mas Camp] from its home, I will say that the timing could not be worse. What a way to kick-off [pun intended] Black History Month, February 2019! May the good spirits of our ancestors strengthen those who dare to object the seeming strangulation of this most precious, rebellious performing art – kaiso. The Carnival City has been declared as Mas Camp’s home for the rest of the Carnival season.

The Showdown Mas Camp is well-known for its anti-system/government songs, and this is what kaiso is supposed to be. Kaiso needs us to be united in her defense and by so doing protecting ourselves from being muzzled into submission. I wait on the Dominica Calypso Association (DCA) for further guidance.

In the meantime, let Lady Calypso plague the very conscience of those, who in the past, present and future seek to silence her.

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16 Comments

  1. kingman
    February 3, 2019

    Alex, you continue to show your political bias and we continue to see you for what you are; WHERE IS MA CAMP HOME Mr. BRUNO? when last was mas camp held at the Old Mill?, Is calypso only known for its anti government stance or one write for his hate for the government writes only anti government songs for those who he writes.
    Wake up Alex and those of your type, the train has long left your station you now have the long and unenvious task of crawling back where you came from.
    we know you too well now.

  2. mine
    February 3, 2019

    Do you expect any good from this guy to blame the Government, this guy has hatred all over him towards this government.

  3. iprotest
    February 3, 2019

    yes i……..de spirit of our patriotic ancestors is alive.
    it is and will break down de backs of political thugs,,

    Honors to you ………Balla and de other spiritual ancestors are smiling back at you.

    If i were in de position of Mr Lawrence i would have packed my bag in protest and allow de thugs to do de announcement themselves. Then i would buy airtime on de most popular talk show to express my disgust. it is through that determination that we sought independence from colonial masters now petty boujoir wanna be de richest…….being too blind to see how many poor people head they have to climb on to be on top!!!!

    CULTURAL IDENTIFICATION should NEVER NEVER BOW DOWN to political thugery!!!!!

  4. think am stupid
    February 3, 2019

    I am still waiting for my Visa from you and charles.from the 80’s.wickedness. now you are advocating?

  5. KID ON THE BLOCK
    February 2, 2019

    What else would one expect. Just take a look at the back ground. That speaks for itself.

  6. February 2, 2019

    Some years ago my exhibition of paintings, sculptures titled “A New Lease of Life” suffered a similar fate.

    The Old Mill venue was arranged months beforehand but within three days of the opening the painters and decorators moved in and I spent the remaining seven days of the exhibition taking down and putting back paintings to facilitate their agenda.

    Shawna Johnson’s “Lyrics Under the Stars” had to relocate from the Old Mill due to crippling fees imposed for the use of the venue. Shawna’s non-profit making initiative was highly professional and the best incentive ever for young and aspiring Dominican poets.

    All this goes to show that the creative arts flourish best without the interference of government.

  7. True Politics
    February 2, 2019

    Again Alex Bruno get your political tribalism facts correct before you pontificate like a false prophet. Carnival city is not available and it is not air marked with your play of words to cause further discontent.
    Harlem Plaza and la la coco are available if the management of the mas camp would manage their event professionally and stop playing politics with calypso.

    • A. George
      February 5, 2019

      Old Mill is a venue that is there for who wants to to rent it… there have been lots of events there. Why cant a calpyso camp be there? You think Labourites don’t go to mas camp or worker supporters dont go to Stardom… its all about the music right now ok… people want to free up

  8. True Politics
    February 2, 2019

    Alex Bruno there was no contractual arrangement. Get your facts straight if you are the scientists you claim to be

    ADMIN: Dr. Valda Henry (part of the organizing committee) indicated on radio that there was a contractual agreement.

  9. Joseph John
    February 2, 2019

    There is no crisis, no critical stage in our cultural industry. Thanks to people like Raymond Lawrence it has been growing from strength to strength. It is now very sustainable and resilient because Dominicans have embrace their culture and we learn to appreciate our selves. And we support all our cultural activities regardless of venue. This success is not achieved through the efforts of ONLY government and/or organizations but because of the participation spirit of all Dominicans at home and away.
    Do not politically polarize our culture.
    Have witness your contribution as a playwright. I saw your efforts as comparable to that of Tyler Perry. I always thought that if your talent could be combined with Raymond Lawrence, Alwin Bully and other like minders, people all over the world would come to see Broadway in Dominica, and movies too. I guess I am a dreamer.
    I think you should be more engaged in the development of the cultural performance arts in Dominica. Even a school.

  10. For The Love Of Country
    February 2, 2019

    All this signifies is that Dominica belongs to PM Skerrit and the DLP, with their dirty work being done by supporters/acolytes.

  11. Joseph John
    February 2, 2019

    Alex you can do better than that. On some matters you should desist from showing your anti government point of view. You have sufficient experience in show business and education to put this matter in proper prospective with a more positive approach.
    If there was a breach of contract Mass Camp should know what to do.
    By now Mass camp and the Calypso Assn should have combined their efforts to have a Calypso House and be an independent organization. They could have entertainment all year round with calypso their main play.
    So do not go highlighting a non-existing political conflict between government and entertainers in a divisive manner.

  12. D W
    February 2, 2019

    Well said Alex, wake up my people.

  13. Just Me
    February 2, 2019

    Partisan? From one government owned area to another government owned area.

    • A. George
      February 5, 2019

      Yes but with proper planning and communication, there should have never been a contract signed as the place was due to be renovated. He does have a point here.

  14. Justice
    February 2, 2019

    What a shame. Only in Dominica. I’m absolutely lost for words. Not even in communist countries do such evil and wickedness occur.

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