Every parent can identify with my joy at Ziya’s first time in a Carnival school show. Morning was filled with traditional characters, limbo for the children, a parade of the bands organized by the theme, ‘To protect and to serve’, and old time kaiso.
Zi played in the clearly ironic mas section, ‘The Flying Squad’. Her class’ lyrics were, ‘We have to learn our ABC, but it really hard you see/ We try to look at the news, but dat giving we the blues’ and later on ‘It have de UNC, PNM and ILP/ We hear about CIA and then they say is DEA’ and so on, ending with ‘sans humanite’.
Look music, politics and picong in our national curriculum. It needs to be said, bless teachers whose labour of love helps our children to love learning, themselves and each other, and who provide those moments that you revisit when your baby has grown up, hopefully to be a better person than you.
That dusk, on my way home, I picked up my neighbour at Mount Hope Hospital. She was rightfully fuming about the $2 million dollar soca and chutney prizes, and about her friend whose husband has been having seizures and can’t get an appointment for a MRI until April. 2015. By then, he could be worse off or dead. My neighbour was planning a fundraiser after the fete spree was finally over, and was hoping they would make as much as $3000, not enough to fully access private health care, less than the cost of some mas costumes, but an act of love and a help. My neighbour’s heartbreak at her friend’s weeping was a reminder that the tragedy of ‘sans humanite’ isn’t only an old time refrain.
On the road for Jouvay, I thought I heard the same melody drift over our heads while 3 Canal’s Laventille Rhythm Section carried me to daybreak. It returned me to reflection about how the light of morning can be turned to the dark of evening by the injustice of our inhumanity. Unlike the prettiness of Monday and Tuesday, Jouvay is a time for contemplation of, indeed confrontation with, our darkness, the jostle of devils and jumbies, repression and resistance. As I meditated, yes in the midst of the mud mas, on the way ahead come Ash Wednesday, I saw two women chipping joyously with their children in the band.
All these police in riot gear like we really at risk of revolution, all this terror and mistrust, and here these mothers are, fearlessly, lovingly, relentlessly teaching their children about music, politics, picong and people, about making sure that we can all be together and okay in the bass-heavy dead of night, pressed in between the hammer of iron, unprotected by the apartheid of rope, and surrounded by bodies of every kind, practicing freedom in every form before soberly washing it away.
This is how dutty mas can restore our faith in ourselves when hospitals fail to be places of safety and caring while Jouvay bands fail to be places of danger or crime. Where do we find our humanity and where do we look for community when we are left without? If grinding pressure is our daily struggle, when are those moments when we turn the whole world upside down? How can we teach our children both the ABC and to do better than us with their love, their words, their money, their institutions and their freedom? We want them to get more than the blues from the news, and to do more than just sing out against the true meaning of sans humanite.