Questions on that CWC culture show
-- Missing links in great event
By RICKEY SINGH
March 14, 2007
BRIDGETOWN -- High praise in the celebration of West Indian cultural creativity, as showcased by Jamaica on Sunday evening to officially launch the historic Cricket World Cup 2007 tournament will, deservingly, be sung long after the 51 games end on April 28 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Picturesque descriptions have been used by journalists and broadcasters who covered the momentous three-hour 'high energy' presentation in the performing arts that featured much of the creative genius in music, singing and dancing which have long distinguished our region on the world stage.
Some may have been so overwhelmed by the fantastic show that television viewers around the globe had the opportunity to witness, that they may have overlooked the puzzling absence in a cast of over 2,000 performers, significant components that would have undoubtedly made it an even richer experience.
As one among the estimated two and half billion viewers the organisers and sponsors of CWC 2007 expected to follow the grand cultural show, as I did from my special vantage point at home in Barbados, questions kept cropping up in my mind.
As it was in the curious choice of "Mellow" as mascot for CWC 2007, good intention may have led also in determining West Indian Energy as the central theme for the event at the spanking multi-purpose stadium at Trelawny.
However, whatever the problems encountered in ensuring in the presentation an authentic fusion of the varying strands of our rich multi-culture of the "peoples who came" the gaps could hardly have been missed by more inquiring viewers.
Here was an historic moment to showcase to a captive audience of over two billion across the globe -- an audience that NONE of the nine Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) ever had, namely how our region, that's a microcosm of the word, celebrates its cultural diversity with awesome imagination and elegance.
Where, for instance, was ANY reminder of the indigenous peoples whose history is a foundation pillar of today's Caribbean Community? If it were too costly to have even a token contingent from Guyana where some eight Amerindian tribes constitute the third largest ethnic group, Belize is not far away from Jamaica.
Was either Guyana, Belize, Dominica, or St Vincent and the Grenadines approached for support?
And why the second largest ethnic community of CARICOM -- the East Indians -- was relegated to a mere fleeting dance performance that could hardly have made any impact in a crowded field of rich, pulsating reggae and dancehall musical presentations?
Where was the legendary "Calypso King of the World", the "Mighty Sparrow"? Was he invited and regretted his participation?
More strangely, whatever happened to the only "original music" of the 20th century --according to the experts on music -- the steel pan? Not a steel orchestra in sight for that memorable occasion.
Grateful as we all must be for the ever-shining collection of cultural icons whose performances made that "West Indian Energy" three-hour show the very great occasion it was, there needs to be some explanation for:
Example, why there were no representation of the culture of the Amerindian people; just an after-thought token presentation of East Indian culture with a fleeting dance; no steel pan orchestra; no Mighty Sparrow...
It may be tempting to heap criticisms on the host country's Local Organising Committee (LOC) until time is taken to speak with its representatives.
In so doing one can learn of the CARICOM states, foremost being Trinidad and Tobago, that had featured significantly in early preparatory arrangements for support in important areas for pan music, carnival bands and the East Indian cultural component (along with also multi-cultural Guyana) but failed to deliver.
Late decisions to avoid participation in the CWC 2007 cultural show by some countries contributed to some of the problems that had to be hurriedly overcome.
A classic example was one that led to the token East Indian cultural input. Thanks to the creativity of the local organisers, they improvised with the group of beautiful female dancers, of varying ethnic origins and also the relevant music.
To have the Caribbean on show for that historic inauguration ceremony for CWC 2007 required collective involvement of the talents and creative imagination of more than the host country.
Much of that were, thankfully, on display.
But what of the problems, the lapses the shortcomings that could have been avoided to have made it a richer experience in the celebration of our unity in diversity?