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July 04, 2020

Matthews and Collett Banned From Olympics

MUNICH, West Germany, Sept. 8 — The International Olympic Committee barred today two United States…
July 04, 2020

Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett: A Most Casual Protest With Most Striking Consequences

They stood there casually, one barefoot, hands on hips, the other in thoughtful repose, right…
July 04, 2020

Athletes Will Be Banned From Protesting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But the Games Have…

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced new guidelines on Thursday that ban athletes from making…
July 04, 2020

RESOLUTION OF THE IOC EXECUTIVE BOARD WITH REGARD TO RACISM AND INCLUSION

The IOC stands for non-discrimination as one of the founding pillars of the Olympic Movement,…
July 01, 2020

Lewis highlights racial discrimination and gender inequality in sports

"Olympic Order is the Olympic Movement highest award for distinguished contributions to sports. The list…
June 29, 2020

Black Lives Matter movement brings ex-IOC President Brundage under new scrutiny

When the Olympic Games were last held in Tokyo, American multi-millionaire Avery Brundage was President…
June 27, 2020

Opinion: Equality still remains an elusive goal

My professional life has been defined by three principles: excellence, integrity, equality. They were bred…

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Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett: A Most Casual Protest With Most Striking Consequences https://t.co/KBV4TV5dm1
Saturday, 04 July 2020 19:14
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The re-en­act­ment of Kam­bule on Car­ni­val Fri­day, is sym­bol­i­cal­ly the awak­en­ing of the Car­ni­val spir­it.

The Kam­bule pro­duc­tion recog­nis­es and cel­e­brates the bois men and women, the war­riors of the mas, who are the front­line in the con­fronta­tion with Cap­tain Bak­er in the 1880s, said a re­lease from the NCC.

Kam­bule re­minds us that the Africans cre­at­ed a great deal de­spite en­slave­ment. In the gayelle of the ex­is­tence, the an­ces­tors fought inch by inch to clear a space for the man­i­fes­ta­tions of their cul­ture whether re­mem­bered or forged in the cru­cible of the en­vi­ron­ment to which they had been so forcibly trans­port­ed.

The Kam­bule was root­ed in the re­mem­bered mask­ing tra­di­tions of West Africa, and of course in­flu­enced by the new Caribbean en­vi­ron­ment.

By de­f­i­n­i­tion, the Kam­bule was a torch­light pro­ces­sion which took place from mid­night on Car­ni­val Sun­day. By the 1870s hun­dreds of men, car­ry­ing light­ed flam­beau and sticks, some drunk, most of them masked, marched around the streets of the cap­i­tal. There was drum­ming, hoot­ing, singing, shout­ing, and fights be­tween ri­val bands.

But the au­thor­i­ties deemed it too dis­or­der­ly and out of con­trol. The bands of work­ing-class men and women who came out were threat­en­ing to the re­spectable folk.

Not to men­tion, the light­ed torch­es, in a town with large­ly wood­en build­ings, was a fire haz­ard. Thus, there seemed to be just cause for clos­ing it down. Var­i­ous laws en­act­ed be­tween 1868 and 1879 gave Bak­er the au­thor­i­ty to move against the marchers. At the 1880 Kam­bule, he called on them to sur­ren­der their sticks, drums and torch­es. With­out re­sis­tance, they did as or­dered.

The fol­low­ing year, how­ev­er, the war­riors and the po­lice faced off. Known as the Bois Bataille stick fight, bois men and women fought against the might of the British Con­stab­u­lary.

The mas­quer­aders, stick­fight­ers came out in full force and a full-scale fight en­sued–in­volv­ing sticks, ba­tons, stones and fists–in which 38 out of the 150 po­lice­men present were in­jured.

The po­lice re­treat­ed to the Bar­racks and re­mained there un­til Car­ni­val Tues­day but there was no vi­o­lence there­after and the cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued peace­ful­ly.

The his­toric bat­tle took place on Duke Street, in the vicin­i­ty of Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars pan yard and this year, like in pre­vi­ous years, trib­ute is paid to the war­rior­hood of the for­mer en­slaved.

Kam­bule 2014 is a per­for­mance craft­ed by the Idake­da Group, as they con­tin­ue to re­vis­it this day in our Car­ni­val his­to­ry as it com­mem­o­rates the rea­son for our free­dom and our abil­i­ty to cel­e­brate this fes­ti­val.

Ein­tou Springer, the au­thor of this play that rev­els in the brav­ery of the men and women of the bar­rack yards of East Dry Riv­er, says in the re­lease: "In the Gayelle of the ex­is­tence, the an­ces­tors fought inch by inch to clear a space for the man­i­fes­ta­tions of their cul­ture whether re­mem­bered or forged in the cru­cible of the en­vi­ron­ment to which they had been so forcibly trans­port­ed.

"With­in that space, it is al­so im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the gen­e­sis of the tra­di­tion­al mas as we know it. For ex­am­ple, the dames lor­raine char­ac­terised by their flam­bouyant dress­es and over-ex­ag­ger­at­ed bo­soms were orig­i­nal­ly por­trayed by male slaves who mim­ic­ked the wives of the plan­ta­tion own­ers.

"The jab (pa­tois for di­a­ble or dev­il) mo­lassie (pa­tois for malasse or mo­lasses) is the fear­some crea­ture who car­ries a pitch fork and threat­ens to smear spec­ta­tors un­less they pay him. But the shack­les and chains that re­strain him al­so have links to slav­ery. Com­bined with the mo­lasses with cov­ers his body, the char­ac­ter jab al­so refers to the es­tate gangs that dealt with cane fires."

Deputy chair­man of the Na­tion­al Car­ni­val Com­mis­sion, Don Sylvester, the force be­hind pre­serv­ing tra­di­tion­al mas, be­lieves un­der­stand­ing Car­ni­val be­gins with the Kam­bule.

"The NCC as the ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­er of this per­for­mance is sig­nalling our de­sire to main­tain our his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tions. I would en­cour­age as many cit­i­zens and mas lovers as pos­si­ble to wit­ness this re-en­act­ment," he said.

"If you want to un­der­stand where Car­ni­val be­gan, and where the bat, jab jab and oth­er mas char­ac­ters came from, this is where to be­gin."

Sylvester be­lieves that in re­liv­ing the his­to­ry of Car­ni­val, Trinida­di­ans can keep the tra­di­tion alive amidst the colour and vi­bran­cy for which this fes­ti­val is now known.

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