THE EDITOR: A recent article in a British newspaper identifying the “world’s best Carnivals – the most dazzling Carnival celebrations” – included Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Venice, Stiges in Spain, Copenhagen, which is stated as having “Caribbean-style parades,” Costa Rica and Jamaica (Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or Kingston).
I surmised something was definitely wrong, especially when Jamaica was described as “frenzy in calypso central” with references to steelband and weeks of parties.
Another article revealed that in Panama in the town of Nombre de Dios, an “Ash Wednesday celebration by Afro-colonials” performing “dances and rituals known as congos celebrates slave rebellion against the Spanish” and marks the end of Carnival.
Importantly, the congos are receiving “greater attention since UNESCO has designated them as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December.”
In another article, in the city of Oruro in Bolivar, a procession of 20,000 including dancers and musicians parade in the streets along a 5km route celebrating carnival. There are costumes, music, craft, folk dances and 20 hours of continuous partying and is viewed by annual visitors.
The celebrations end on the Tuesday with an offering to Mother Earth. This carnival celebration has been included on “the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
On the island of Terceira in the Azores, “the dances and bailinhos of Carnival will soon be integrated in the inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Portugal.” The celebrations include performances by musicians and actors at 30 concert halls, with dances, comedy shows and bailinhos and recognised for its importance to cultural tourism as part of the Portuguese cultural diversity. The aim is to have the carnival as a “possible candidacy for the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
In TT, our national celebration is much more integrated and involves historic contributions to the world of music through steelband, calypso and soca, skills of mas making on display, hundreds of songs produced every year, dance and folk performances, traditional characters portrayed, the art of stick-fighting showcased, crafts and exotic cuisine to entice and much more.
Our Carnival celebrations culminate in a revelry of unimaginable proportions over two days, where the entire country in towns and villages is engaged, with hundreds of thousands including nationals and visitors, adults and children absorbed and immersed in an atmosphere of cultural gaiety.
We have a most unique, intriguing and exciting festival for the world to enjoy. I hope some attention will be paid to working towards the UNESCO recognition that our Carnival deserves.