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Monday 24 June 2019
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Reign of the newcomers

TODAY’S Junior Parade of the Bands is a time for our young stars to shine. A riot of colour and creativity will overwhelm those lucky enough to get a glimpse of what the kiddies have to offer. We wish all crossing the Queen’s Park Savannah stage well and hope they have a wonderful experience, inspiring them to carry the Carnival baton into the future.

We also take the opportunity to congratulate our new monarchs of Carnival. On Wednesday a new Carnival King and a new Carnival Queen were crowned in a closely-contested competition.

Joseph Lewis, a relative newcomer, was crowned Carnival King, breaking a trend of more experienced masqueraders winning the title. After placing a distant tenth last year, 27-year-old Lewis returned to the big stage this year with Ghelgath – The Demon Lord of Ice to lay claim to the crown.

“I picked up from that to come this year more focused, more driven, determined to be King of Carnival and here I am today,” he told Newsday after the show.

Just as the youngsters this morning will cross the Savannah stage with a special verve, Lewis’ plucky determination is a reminder of the power of new perspectives and approaches. His portrayal, of a god who, when summoned, displays a vast amount of talents, was fitting.

Also a newcomer is Queen of Carnival Shynel Brizan, 26, who made only her first appearance in the finals on Wednesday. She portrayed Mariella, Shadow of Consciousness, a key figure from Wilson Harris’ novel The Palace of the Peacock which has now been turned into a band by the Moko Somokow group.

Brizan’s moko jumbie, swathed in earth tones, wowed the crowd with her dance and the movement of her wings. She kept up the mantle from Stephanie Kanhai who was the first moko to win the competition in 2015.

The way in which both monarchs engaged with literary characters or figures from a range of sources itself is something old. But they have breathed new life into the mas by applying age-old crafts and techniques in a fresh, personal way that betrays a more contemporary perspective.

Congratulations are also in order for Ronaldo London, the new Calypso Monarch. London, who also holds this year’s Young King title, dethroned former champion Helon Francis on Thursday night in a final in which newer faces dominated.

None of this is to suggest we support ageism or approaches that do not reward excellence pure and simple. What we seek to highlight, however, is the fact that Carnival, like any art form, is about change and the rise of new faces can only add to its diversity and inclusiveness, breathing life into its fire.

All would do well to emulate London’s swagger as we parade into the future.

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