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Sunday 26 May 2019
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Letters to the Editor

A pan revolution

THE EDITOR: I recently heard Allison Bernard sing The You in You at the Kalypso Revue. In it she deals with the negativity that a large percentage of Trinidad women of African descent display about their hair; and she sings of the need for them to be proud of who they are, as they were born. What does this have to do with the steel drum musical instrument?

It is all about attitude. Bernard treats with one notable problem, but most of our people to some degree suffer from self-doubt; not only about our physicality – our women will tell you that their men prefer fair-skinned women with straight hair – but about our civilisational, cultural, and spiritual heritages.

We think that our problems are based in economics, business and politics. But we will succeed in economics, business, politics, and general societal organisation when we begin to cure the attitudinal deficiencies that result from our self-doubt.

On the societal level it is a daunting task that can only succeed through the re-education of our people in their schools and homes; and through enlightened leadership in all areas of our people’s endeavours and aspirations. But too many of the people we look to for leadership have minds that are calcified – and proudly so – in the traditions of others, for they see no value in our own. As individuals we can always seek knowledge through our own initiative; and the knowledge is there to be found easily in 2019 in the age of the internet, if we wish to seek.

It is those of us who have been least miseducated in the organisational systems of others who have shown that creativity is found within, “the you in you.” The people in the hills of Laventille who were forbidden to play their goat-skinned drums invented a new musical instrument out of steel drum.

The new instrument has gained much recognition since its early days of condemnation, but the full extent of its great economic potential is still not much accepted. World-wide the production of the instrument will eventually be a billion-dollar industry. There are hundreds of steel orchestras in the US alone. One million tenor pans at US$1,000 = US$1,000,000,000. However, for our country it can be much more than just about money.

The leaders of Pan Trinbago must come to realise that they run an operation that has the potential to be the most powerful community-based organisation in the country by far. But they will never come to that conclusion if Panorama is the zenith of their ambition.

There are steel orchestras in communities and schools throughout TT. Pannists encompass individuals from all the races, classes, and creeds in the country. The steelband is a unifying force – Jit Samaroo and Renegades. Each community steel orchestra can be a foundation for the overall development – academics and sports also – of its young people. For Panorama they show they can be committed and are willing to work hard. That attitude should be encouraged throughout the year.

An enlightened Pan Trinbago leadership can help to set our country on the path of true sustainable development, arising out of our very own creativity.

ARTHUR NURSE via e-mail

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