CARNIVAL formally begins today. But for many, the real start of our national festival happens on Carnival Saturday morning when children come out for a ritual unlike any other: the Junior Parade of the Bands. The standard of mas, beauty and creativity in this event never fails to amaze. It is perhaps the brightest spot of our Carnival.
While Saturday’s parade got off to a slow start, in the end it did not disappoint. Tribute was paid to the late mas man Stephen Derek; spectators got a good dose of sailor mas, minstrels, moko jumbies, pierrot grenades and even dame loraines. Creativity was high, with Rosalind Gabriel’s award-winning band Buy Local serving up fruits and veggies.
The National Carnival Commission, the masqueraders and bandleaders should all be complimented on a job well done. But the ironic thing is while children were centre-stage on Saturday, as a society we are seeing more and more indicators of our failure to protect the interest of minors.
The Junior Parade of the Bands came as disturbing news continued to emerge in relation to the case of a mother who has been found to have pimped out children. We must praise the actions of the Children’s Authority who have swiftly intervened in this case which has caused national disquiet ever since it emerged through a video posted on social media. Efforts must be made to provide the necessary medical support which this child will need moving forward.
Furthermore, while law enforcement authorities will undoubtedly be busily focusing on ensuring the safety of Carnival, action must be taken to ensure the mother in question faces the full brunt of the law. We must send a strong signal that what has happened in this case will not be condoned.
And equally, it remains important for us to be vigilant about the welfare of children moving forward. The case of a boy being beaten to death with a steel rod by a relative as well as of a 52-year old man raping a 12-year old girl are appalling reminders of the dangers minors continue to face. It is unacceptable that as a society our most vulnerable are treated thus.
So even as the reign of the Merry Monarch begins in earnest, we should remember that once all the glitter settles on Ash Wednesday, as a society we have a lot of work to do to better protect those who can least protect themselves. While the adults today come out to play, we hope all our children are safe and their futures secure.