Should Government Pay For Booty Shaking?

The calypso tents have folded. The 2012 street revelers have returned to their bunkers. The tireless days and long nights of bacchanal are over.  The annual cultural hangover, popularly known as carnival, is now history.  Now it’s back to normalcy and the stark reality of VAT and its impending implementation, for better or worse.
Compliments of Choice TV, I witnessed most of the shows live—a far cry from the old days when I waited for weeks for local calypsos to arrive via snail mail. Now, at a click of the mouse I can listen in. With carnival behind us, (is it really?) we can all return to the sober realization that what passes for one of our country’s biggest sponsored national events, is nothing more than a feel-good, booze induced ‘mash up de place’ and ‘misbehave’ exhibition of our hidden beastly nature. The gyrating, the boom-boom shaking, the scantily dressed females of all age groups that make it down the parade route showing off panties and bras in their self-imposed satanic ritual, is nothing short of an endorsement of moral decadence.
Frankly, and indeed from complaints about carnival from across the region, what passes for culture today is a neatly wrapped protest against civility, decency and the moral underpinning which our society is supposed to hold in high esteem. If we claim to be a Christian society then shouldn’t our cultural demonstration reflect the best of us? Shouldn’t it reflect creativity, dexterity, upliftment and a penchant for goodness? Why should we debase ourselves on our streets with little or no regard for setting good examples for a younger generation? Then we complain when our children exhibit their animalistic passions.  Yes, as Calypsonian Davis beautifully and truthfully sang “Shame on Us!”
To add insult to injury, there is perennial bellyaching about what is sweetly named a ‘government subvention.’ This is a chunk of taxpayers’ largesse freely handed over to the organizers of the yearly festival.             For an entire year the organization literally sits on its laurels, doing next to nothing but for a few meetings here and there, and on the eve of carnival the moaning and groaning starts about how government has not handed over the l‘argent.  I think it is high time for those carnivalistic parasites that depend on the public purse to be told that there is no more free dough. Government must seriously reexamine why it must be party to a dangerously misplaced emphasis on whining and grinding in the public square under the guise of ‘culture.’
Yes, I can hear the detractors argue that this is the people’s money and if the people want to spend it on carnival who am I to deny them that right. Spending government’s money is not a right. It is a privilege accorded to our elected officials, be they red, yellow, green or black shirted in their divisive and counterproductive party orientation.  Accountability dictates that hard earned tax payers’ funds, whether collected through property, sales or the upcoming and a “punitive and punishing” VAT, borrowing Prime Minister’s Kenny Anthony words from his opposition perch, should not be scattered on the streets of Castries for the glorification of the animalistic instincts of some. What about the rights of taxpayers who don’t think it should be squandered on sinful and mimicking pleasures from a very sad and brutal past that most of us would like to forget?
If we accept the premise that government funds should be lavishly spent on cultural extravagance without setting and requiring any standards, why don’t we spend some on building safe sex houses. Haven’t you heard that in St. Lucia anything you want “you can get it for a cut!”  Ask Papa Vader. At least the ‘Tootsie Houses’ can provide a safe environment for the ladies of the night to engage in safe business and the government can in return tax the proceeds. It prevents them from engaging in dangerous and unhealthy practices, taking care of Senator Dr Stephen King’s concerns, while generating much needed revenue. But, I’m sure we are too religious to even consider this as an option. Yet, we have females wearing only panties and bras disguised as costumes and we think God is smiling at our outward hypocrisy.
Seriously, an immediate and very critical examination must be undertaken of St Lucia’s carnival with the main goal of making it more relevant, purposeful and meaningful to the cultural needs of our people. We cannot continue to behave as if we are the only ones on planet earth. If we keep in mind that what is displayed on our shores is now beamed live to millions across the globe, then perhaps we can begin to appreciate that the portrayal of who we are as a people must be attractive, appealing and pleasant. The depiction should reveal something unique and special about the character of our people. Moreover, at a time when economic stagnation worldwide is the order of the day, we must begin to see culture as a revenue-generating mechanism. We must find the symbiosis between carnival and tourism and package it for both local and international consumption.
We can always ‘walk and wine’ at private clubs but when we take to the streets, if we must, it should be a glorious exposé of what makes us proud as a people. It must be about our history, our struggles, our hopes and aspiration and above all the heights of our achievement. Let’s always
be at the Piton top in our carnival experience and not descend into the stinky and dirty gutters of Castries and Rodney Bay.

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