Duke: Tobago carnival cannot survive without Trinidad

PDP leader Watson Duke. - Angelo Marcelle
PDP leader Watson Duke. - Angelo Marcelle

PROGRESSIVE Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke says the Tobago carnival, in its current format, cannot survive without Trinidad.

He made the statement on Tuesday during a news conference at the party’s headquarters, Port Mall, Scarborough.

It came two days after National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters told reporters this year’s festival was poorly organised.

Peters, who spoke during the parade of the bands, also claimed the THA did not ask for commission’s assistance in undertaking the event.

The THA has denied this was the case.

Saying Peters made “a great point,” Duke said Trinidad should be fully involved in the Tobago carnival.

“They are the mecca of carnival. Give Jack he jacket and Jim he gym boots. It is a tragedy to think that we could do it alone, only fools do that. The wise man would collaborate and create greater strength and greater excellence.”

But he believes the island’s carnival should have a Tobago mandate.

“If they are coming here, they are coming here to do it our way, like when we go to Trinidad, we have to compete their way.”

Duke’s statement came as he questioned the economic impact of carnival on Tobago.

“We need to ask ourselves seriously, after investing $12.5 million, what were the returns to the man on the street, to the businesses on the street?”

“Was it more important to spend $17.5 million last year carnival, $12.5 this year on a street parade and not measure it, just say it was good?”

He said the money could have been pumped into developing at least three electoral districts.

“We are taking money and spending it on something that is not measurable.

"And it bothers me to hear that Tobago only has a room stock of 2,000 rooms officially and we boast last year of bringing almost 60,000 people into the island.”

Had it not been for a “few sympathisers” from Trinidad, who came to participate, Duke said, “Sunday mas would have been a washout, because we are more interested in playing a low-level mas, which is the J’Ouvert mas, the walk and enjoy yourself kind of mas, than the conventional mas.”

The Roxborough/Argyle assemblyman claimed Tobagonians could not afford to play conventional mas.

“The economy just cannot support a big carnival and so we have to rethink the way they do carnival in Tobago.

“If we are going to have plenty small carnivals, then so be it. But the big carnival, we have to now appeal to Trinidad, and that is where Gypsy comes in. Like him or hate him or love him or leave him, without Trinidad, the (conventional) mas is a bust.”

Duke said he was not impressed with the mas on Carnival Sunday.

“I looked at it and I wondered if we were begging people to parade on the streets, because it was virtually empty except for a small concentration of people every now and then. That does not speak of persons coming out to enjoy themselves.

“In Trinidad you have to beg people to come off the stage.
"So Trinidad is needed. We have to continue to promote unity between Trinidad and Tobago.”


"Duke: Tobago carnival cannot survive without Trinidad"

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