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Friday, February 29, 2008

ttgapers.com: Hypa Hoppa calls for curb on violent music

A long time ago, he was a neat li'l fella coming to Sunday School in Diamond Vale with his sister. By all reports, he was even then a serious-minded and determined young man.

He entered the media space young, paid his dues, and broke from the establishment to forge his own path. Even so, he continues ever to show respect for those who went before him, both the deejays and the performers who gave him his love for the music and his industry.

He possesses an incredible humility for someone who has done as much as he has while still so young, knowing that even though he is one of the biggest names in the game, he's still "one ah we".

His social conscience and conscientiousness shine now as he takes a stand to do something I've advocated that our society's role models do for some time. And it might not seem like much now, but it's the trickle that could start a wave.

It's a move far more impacting than wearing black or driving with your headlights on all day. He makes a change in his own space, within his own sphere of control that he knows and we all know will likely make a big difference.
After the recent stabbing murder of 16 year old Shaquille Roberts, local DJ Kwesi "Hypa Hoppa" Hopkinson has called on his peers in the entertainment industry to take a stand against violent music. Artists mentioned in his call include popular dancehall artists Movado and Busy Signal as well as hip hop mogul 50 Cent.

Hopkinson, of Radioactive and RED 96.7 fame, in an interview with the Trinidad Express stated, "There is no doubt that the music is influencing the youths towards violence. Particularly an artiste like Movado who says he's a gangsta for life and has the youths emulating that lifestyle." Other individuals do not necessarily hold Hypa Hoppa's views on the matter while some are in total agreement"...

He continued to say that in his Afternoon Drive programme that no violent music will be played and is also urging other radio personalities to follow suit and set an example. Hopkinson is not calling for a ban against the music, but an exercise of caution when playing music on the national airwaves.
At a time where no-one seems willing to accept responsibility for anything anymore, it's refreshing and heartening to see this call.

The full text of the article on Hopkinson's appeal to his peers is available at http://www.ttgapers.com/Article1889.html.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Crisis of Leadeship: I want to feel Obama-mania

I want to be able to hear one of the immigrants flocking to Trinidad and Tobago's shores say something, anything like the video below about a leader here. Trinidadians and Tobagonians are so starved for real leadership that we've been willing to settle in various pockets for:
  • an arrogant,
  • a has-been playing at dictator,
  • an alleged criminal charged at various times with both white-collar and sexual offences,
  • a trouble maker who would sooner undo the country if he can't have his way with it,
  • a scamp likely looking for 1,000 times return on his electoral investment,
  • a battered woman who keeps coming back home for more licks...
Where is our great hope? Where is the one who will inspire the entire national (regional?) community under one purpose, once cause? Perhaps Barack is a model for one of our young politicos to follow... Rowley, Browne, Hypolite, Annisette-George, Lucky, M. Panday, Griffith, Dyer, Seetahal... will you shrug off the narrow expectations of your principals and be more than they imagined you would be, more than they want you to be? Will you burst the shackles of partisan politics and engender the universality that is enshrined in our anthem and pledge?

Will you be for us what Barack Obama means to them? Can I hope to sound like this guy anytime soon?

The video above was linked from the blog, Think On These Things - Research, Commentary, and News on the 2008 Presidential Election with a Pro-Obama Slant.

PS: Did you know that "Forged from the Love of Liberty" was intended
originally to be the anthem of the West Indies Federation?

Ah shoulda be in Antigua in Stanford Grounds...

Trinidad and Tobago Celebrates - Photograph by: Joseph Jones Photography
Photo courtesy Stanford2020.com

Ah did never like de set o' la couray dat Trinidad and Tobago success does bring. All de "fans" does come out o' wherever only when t'ing goin' good. When was de World Cup in Germany, ah did prefer to sit down in mih house wid a tall cup o' juice, loll off in mih Morris chair, takin' in de t'ing wid nobody aroun' to arkse mih nuttin'. Ah had de bes' seat in de house wid nobody red headdress in mih face, all de replay and close-ups and camera angles at mih disposal. Besides, it ent have nothing worse than when yuh concentratin' on de game an' some drunk jus'-come in de sports bar cyah find nobody but you to explain to dem what offside mean!

Last night wasn't no different. Dis time, de 20-20 final ketch mih on mih couch in mih unmentionables flickin' back an' forth between Miss Trinidad & Tobago and de Jamaica innings. But mih remote start to stick on TV6 when ah see Dave Mohammed bowl out Gayle at number five fuh a measely six runs! As de innings continue to unravel and de Jamaicans continue to be undone by We-Boys, ah tell mihself dem gyul an' dem could wait, oui...

91 runs! Dey couldn't even bat out dey 20 overs! Three whole over and two ball to spare!

Long as hell commercial break before We-Boys come back out to bat, an' ah could tell yuh ah feel it for Ramdin when he out. But small t'ing! He still make more dan half de Jamaica side could muster wid his eleven, wid ah six and ah four in de mix to boot!

But den Simmons an' Perkins settle een together and like dey tell deyself dey wasn't makin' de mistake dem Bajan boys make in de semis. Mohammed an' Emrit set de pace wid de bowlin'. Time fuh de batsmen to shine. Make de small score fast an' done de story. It ent have no waitin' an' takin' time in dat.

And is a batting exhibition from ball one against less dan stellar bowlin'! Fours an' sixes in a rage! All kinda fancy shot! Divin' forward an' over de shoulder... t'ing dat looking like ah West Indian immigrant's fanciful embellishment of Sobers at work against England in de 1950's.

At de end of it, Perkins raise his fifty. And Lendl do Uncle Phil damn proud, sloggin' a massive six to close the innings.

26 overs of play out of 40 to demolish the Jamaicans in Antigua!

Man of the Match for spin bowling. Play of the Match for Bravo on a run out. Two hundred thousand for de Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board. A cool million and championship rings for We-Boys...

And as ah watchin' de prizegiving, ah feelin' ah lil' pang. Ah shoulda be dey in Antigua in Stanford Grounds under lights.

Ah watch de fact dat de grounds was full of Trinbagonians and Jamaicans, and ah tellin' mihself ah never see nothing so, not before Sir Allen Stanford put money behind a West Indian institution - The Fete Match.

Bring the elder legends with the stories of glory days. Let people come and play who you would not have even thought of as cricketers. Limited overs with tight fielding, precision bowling and punishing batting... Complete cricket in a neat package, playable by and acceptable to all. And in these days when West Indies cricket is bereft of joy, the Stanford Tournament is a festival and a showcase of overlooked talent.

Whether the man has ulterior motives or he just has a love for the game as an adopted Caribbean citizen, Stanford is to be roundly thanked and commended. In two short years, he has done more for public passion over Caribbean cricket than the West Indian Boards has been able to muster. You can see it in the players. You can see it in the crowds. You can see it in him...

And for the first time in many a year, I felt like I should have been there...

Congratulations to Trinidad and Tobago, to Captain Daren Ganga and his team, on full success the second time around! May the boys tighten up where it is necessary, and may there be even greater success in future. May the West Indies selectors cease to overlook incisive spin bowling! May the future of the one-day and test batting attack be found in Trinidad and Tobago as our young batsmen grow from strength to strength.

Congrats to Sir Allen Stanford and his team on a second successful tournament. May he and the Antiguan Government host many, many more.

May the West Indies Cricket Board open their eyes and realize that there is far more of a talent pool available to them (including spin bowling!) than their current crop of recycled underachievers... but let me not get ahead of myself now. Perhaps some things are too much to ask.


A few things you might not have known about Sir Allen Stanford:
  • He was born on the island of St. Croix in 1950
  • He's the chairman, CEO and sole shareholder of the Stanford Financial Group, managing over US$43 billion in 136 countries on six continents
  • His personal net worth is estimated to be in excess of US$2 billion
  • He is committed to a variety of causes, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and Inter-American Economic Council (IAEC), a group established by the Organization of American States which addresses economic development in the Western Hemisphere.
  • He has contributed in Antigua more than US$1.2 million to the construction of a modern public library, $25 million to the Secondary School of Excellence fund for youth, and made $10 million available in a revolving loan fund for small business entrepreneurs.
  • He has created and funded the Stanford 20/20 cricket tournament in the West Indies, for which he built his own ground in Antigua.
  • Stanford was awarded a knighthood by Antigua and Barbuda in 2006, when he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (Antigua and Barbuda)
Source: Wikipedia - Allen Stanford

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thoughts on assisting Guyana after Lusignan and Bartica

Guyana is now engaged with a guerilla army with no political motivation. The mass execution at Lusignan and murderous attack at Bartica were so violent that even the population of Jamaica, reputed murder capital of the Caribbean, would have leaned back, drawn a breath and muttered a collective b----claat!

Guyana is a Caribbean brother, and the Guyanese population in Trinidad increases daily - legally and illegally. The latter group can pose its own set of problems, given the attendant costs of dealing with illegal immigration, our country having become a safe haven for displaced foreign nationals.

The bigger problem now though is that it's not you and me alone looking on as these twenty-something men wreck havoc along the Essequibo. It's all of Trinidad and Tobago, including our ever-boldening miscreants, delinquents and reprobates.

Consequently, the faster and more efficiently that these attacks in Guyana can be snuffed is the faster the spirit behind them will be contained and near-assured copycatting across the Caribbean can be avoided.

Now, if these fellas get a chance to run, there's the distinct possibility that they won't head into Venezuela, Suriname or Brazil, Guyana's Western, Eastern and Southern neighbours. They may head right here to Trinidad where they will blend in with our diverse Afro-population, hiding out with some Afro-Guyanese higgler (or live-in housekeeper!) who has little love for Indo-Guyanese persons. Consider that several Trinidadian bandits have ended up in St. Vincent and Grenada to hide from the law. Read back your papers and you will see.

Our government has already committed weapons and a helicopter for air support. It might also be helpful to quietly send in some of our Sandhurst-trained commandoes to help President Jagdeo's defence force deal with these murderers strategically and incisively.

Personally, I'm glad that the offer to help was extended, and that in a spirit of Caribbean cooperation. We seem too to have the military capacity to do so. I'd like to think that if we were in a tight spot that our CARICOM neighbours would put out a helping hand too.

It's also my sincere hope that other Caribbean leaders step up and offer whatever they can. The Caribbean people have done it before for Grenada, Montserrat and Jamaica. There's no reason that we can't do it again now.

Perhaps though this can be the precursor to a properly organised Caribbean-based defence initiative which allows us to further reduce reliance on the metropole, and moves us one step closer, even through tragedy, to a single pan-Caribbean nation.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Can't corporate Trinidad and Tobago save Boissiere House?

While the public clamours for the historic Boissiere House to be saved, can't corporate Trinidad and Tobago step up to the plate?

Can't the directors of our indigenous companies and conglomerates give up the vehicle upgrade this year and throw in to purchase the property at least? Neal and Massy? Ansa McAl? One Caribbean Media? Certainly you can slum in mid-range luxury for a year or two instead of going for the Porsche SUV with all the options this time around.

Can the financial sector decide to grant the loan to purchase the spot at their minimum rate and call it part of their contribution to the community? RBTT? Republic? First Citizens?

Would it be possible that some wealthy benefactor could step up and save this treasure? Mr. Duprey? Mr. Warner? It would certainly make for good publicity if you wanted it to be able to say that you personally saved a national treasure.

Do we have to wait until this building falls into the kind of disrepair that QRC's Main Block did and Mille Fleurs has before somebody steps up?

101 Tragarete Road was restored privately. Do we really have to wait on the Government to save what is a piece of private property now offered for sale?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Save Our Dolphins!

Photo from T&T Newsday Article, "Fish Not Biting"

I got the following message from a friend today (Thanks Tillah!), after reading an article about low fish harvests with a blurb (a side-note even!) that dolphins are being caught and their flesh (I can't bring myself to call it "meat") sold in the local markets.

I can't immediately vouch for the veracity of the writer's statement that slaughter of whales and dolphins is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago, nor can I find anything in a cursory search of the T&T Laws Online. But the mere idea of slaughtering Flipper to satisfy a sanctimonious need to consume seafood for Lent is enough for me to share this information and appeal as is.

Did anyone see the article in the Express and Newsday showing dolphins being sold for meat (and for lent too)? The fishermen are catching less and less fish and it seems that they are selling dolphins now - possibly as a by-catch (i.e. it accidentally was caught in the net while fishing) or opportunistically (i.e. they caught nothing much and seeing the dolphins around they caught them so that they could have something to sell when they got home).

Dolphin hunting is not the norm in Trinidad and Tobago but with the scarcity of fish and this new publicity indicating that dolphin may be a good substitute for fish for lent, may lead to an increase in hunting. I ask for your help to prevent this.

Please help to spread the following information:
  1. Dolphins are mammals NOT fish. This means that they are red meat which is inappropriate for lent.
  2. Dolphins have one baby every few years and they spend a lot of time and energy in bringing up their babies. This means that catching and killing these animals will cause greater and faster damage to dolphin populations than catching fish will to the fish population. A shorter period of hunting or even a lower catch rate will have terrible consequences for dolphin populations.
  3. Catching, killing, eating, possession of whale and dolphin parts is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago.
I also want to say that though it is easy to be angry with the fishermen we need to understand that they are only trying to make a living and in most cases do not know the damage they can cause by their actions. Their actions are as a result of other factors. We need to look at the possible routes of the problem. In this case this is the scarcity of fish and the fact that the public is not aware that this is illegal which leads to hunting and the willingness of people to buy dolphin meat. To address this we need to increase public awareness and promotion and support of the proper management of our fish resources.

Please help increase public awareness by sharing this information with others, it will be a great help.
Just to underscore, this practice is not to be tolerated. The flesh must be left with the sellers to rot.

If you can't get fresh fish for Lent, go vegetarian or open a tin of sardines or something.

UPDATE: The Institute of Marine Affairs has confirmed that the Conservation of Wild Life Act, Chapter 67:01 may be interpreted to consider dolphins to be "protected animals" under the law. Thus it is illegal to capture and slaughter them. [Link]

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Post-Apocalyptic Vision: Carnival in April...

Just before Carnival, some of the self-proclaimed stakeholders and interest groups raised the idea of moving the festival permanently to the first week in April. Having gotten past initial consternation, it is time to plant tongue firmly in cheek...
Nationally, productivity will crawl to a halt for nine months of the year as people fete from Vincey Mas in June through Cropover and then party right on to the first week in April. God help the Government then to find alternatives to oil and gas revenue.

The commercial banks' retail debt portfolios will overflow, and they would all near crash in two years when people begin to default on their unsecured five-figure Carnival loans.

Sissons will beg Bmobile to change their colour in the second year because they won't be able to produce that much green paint two years in a row.

Foreign exchange flight will more than double. With all costume production by then exported to China, Taiwan and the Philippines, event coordinators will further not be able to find any locals willing to work for Carnival at all. Foreign nationals will be hired cheaply to perform such mundane tasks as, say, tend bar. These will be assisted by a single local interpreter or will be guided by a picture-based food and drink menu.

Further to the above, some one of the 12 common Chinese dialiects will slowly become the second language of Trinidad and Tobago.

April Carnival will see the introduction of a three-day all-inclusive held at a remote location somewhere in the Central Range accessible only by helicopter. (If anybody picks this up, I would like to be credited for the idea. Two complimentaries annually will suffice.)

On a more positive note, Samaroo's will become a multinational corporation with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. They will provide valuable consulting services to foreign firms on raw material sourcing for costume production.

Soca tunes having a shelf life of three to four weeks and many artists having the wherewithal to produce only one good track for the season, Carnival will become a festival supplied musically by dancehall and reggaeton.

Machel will become a god that even the Soca Mafia will be powerless to stop. There will be no event held without his presence and none will be successful without his blessing, that is unless someone snatches him up before Christmas and does not release him until Ash Wednesday afternoon so that he can see for himself that Carnival will not die without him. A panel van or Police Black Maria will be required however as his head is now too big to fit in the trunk of a B14.

With artists pulling out of the competition annually either because of results-based grouses or retirement declarations, Pelf will finally win himself a Soca Monarch title.

The artist who remains unnamed will annually stab up deejays' cars to try to get airplay for his less-than-stellar songs.
Of course, there may be well thought out and reasoned arguments for moving the festival, and I'm willing to hear them. It's also hoped that people don't discount this idea out of hand and that they themselves come forward to present reasonable and reasoned arguments against the move. After all, an argument with no counter argument tends more often than not to win.

So we wait and we will see...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival 2K8 Photos

All are advised that this year's Carnival photos have now been uploaded to their traditional location, my Kodak Gallery. Links to the Monday and Tuesday photo galleries are provided below.

Carnival Monday (73 photos)

Carnival Tuesday (282 photos)

For those who have not been able to enjoy the splendour that is Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival in my Facebook upload, please do enjoy the sights and colours now. Note that you will need to sign in to view the galleries, but sign-up at the Kodak Gallery is both easy and free.

Share the links, but please do respect both my copyright and the rights of the photo subjects.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival 2K8 Competition Results

Last year, I collated the results of many of the major Carnival competitions for 2007. This year, the blog of Discover Trinidad and Tobago at http://discovertnt.blogspot.com/ has been doing a great job capturing competition results in multiple posts.

Discover Trinidad and Tobago
, produced by the publishers of Caribbean Beat magazine, is the definitive guide to the Caribbean's most fascinating destination. This is your one-stop source for everything you need to know on these two islands, and the people who gave the world Caribbean Carnival, the steel pan and calypso.

However, if people would like to see a single sheet with all of the available results as I'd done last year, drop me a line or post a comment to this article and I'll see what I can do.

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