Culture: Jamaica Carnival.

Time to show me yuh waves
Time to get outta line
Yuh born and ready for pace
Come and wine in de roadway
All in front ah de gateway
All in front ah de people business place
This is de kingdom [Joseph “Prince Pronto” Figueroa, Travis Hosein, Machel Montano, Austin Lyons & S. Joseph, 2018; http://socalyrics.net/machel-montano/soca-kingdom/%5D. 

Where can you find a great party of Caribbean masquerade with street dances supported by the pulsing drum beats of reggae and the steel pan “riddims” of calypso?   Jamaica Carnival 2018 (https://youtu.be/140Xxdsbnig)!

Jamaica Carnival, despite the strong opposition from religious voices, through the music and the people has survived and thrived.  And, psychologists would ask the question: “Why?”

Why has Jamaica Carnival endured when other music festivals have disappeared? 

Imagine a child growing up in the center of Caribbean music, loving the drum beats of reggae and swinging to the steel pan “riddims” of calypso.  This love of the people’s music was supported by her parents as they took her with them whenever they “jumped carnival.”  As an adult, she chose to travel across the Caribbean to the home of carnival and masquerade in Trinidad.  There, she experienced the steel pans and the artisans at their best in a way that she had never seen before.  As she traveled each year, she took more people with her to join the revelry and to experience Caribbean Carnival in its birthplace.  Soon, she was charging patrons for her services, and Karnival by Kandi was born.

Kandi King, of Karnival by Kandi, recently shared about the culture of Jamaica Carnival as she prepared for the 2018 road march which occurred last Sunday, April 8, 2018 (https://youtu.be/LUf83MRZqlw).  Her presence in the movement explains why the carnival culture has survived in Jamaica.  Her story is particularly interesting to psychologists to understand why the “Shared language, social roles and norms, values, and attitudes” (Dalton, Elias, & Wandersman, 2002, 2009) of carnival culture is being transmitted to younger generations and immigrants.  If we go by the success of Karnival by Kandi, and the growing movement of the Bacchanal Jamaica, Xamayca, and Xodus bands (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20180408/major-traffic-changes-today), then the next generation of Jamaica Carnival loyalists has not only emerged, they are here to stay.

Why will it stay? Jamaica Carnival will remain for 3 simple reasons, which are expressed in the messages of some of the songs featured in this year’s road march:

  1. It’s a family affair. Carnival in Jamaica began with the Oakridge Boys in 1989 and continued the following year with Byron Lee establishing the Jamaica Carnival (http://www.trinidadcarnivaldiary.com/carnivals-around-the-world/history-of-carnival-in-jamaica).

You’re my soca family I don’t know What I would do If I lost you I can’t lose you        Because youuuuu You are the glue that holds me down                                                  Youuuuuu There to catch me when I fall down                                                                 Youuuuuu Stick by my side through thick and thin                                                                   Now we’re living in the clouds [Destra Garcia, 2018; https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Destra-2/Family%5D. 

  1. It is choice entertainment for locals, and an excellent tourism product that adds millions to the economy. “The direct contribution of tourism to GDP is estimated at 8.4 percent while total contribution is estimated at a 27.2 percent of GDP” (http://www.tpdco.org/sectoral-debate-presentation-20172018/).

Never let your problems get you down
Stay focused and hold yuh ground …

I feel like Hulk
Hurrawr hurraaaawwwwrr
Move any mountain and trample any building
Like Hulk
Hurrawr hurraaaawwwwrr
Man badder than badder than monster
Dismantle any structure, woy [James Morgan, Dexter Stewart, Vallis Weekes, Scott Galt and Michael Hulsmeier, 2018; http://socalyrics.net/blaxx/hulk/%5D.

  1. Carnival is reshaping the local and global culture (https://www.slideshare.net/Veeshalla100/the-impact-of-festivals-and-music-of-the-caribbean).

So tell me wha dey fighting for (wha dey fighting for)
Wha dey killing for (wha dey killing for)
We doh need no war now
I say we doh want no more now [Aaron “Voice” St Louis, 2018; http://socalyrics.net/voice/year-for-love/%5D.

Taken together, what’s happening is that the promoters and other entrepreneurs are enhancing mental health by promoting community health.  When people have a viable livelihood, when they can enjoy their music, and for a day be free to march the streets with family and friends, they are also engaging in nation-building.

So, when you are looking for a little bit of culture, don’t bypass Jamaica Carnival!

There’s more than meets the eye.  There’s an emerging message behind the beats.  There is a creative freedom in the costumes.  For parents with young children, beware the sensuality of the marauders on the road.  If you do not want to march, pick a balcony or a street corner if necessary, and keep an eye-cover handy.  But, one cannot fail to appreciate the vibes of the people and their exuberance at being alive.

If you are interested in more offerings that can stimulate discussion, pass on a family legacy, or reshape culture, check out other offerings at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD.

Remember, Dear Little Brother, … is around the bend.  The brief delay is only due to cultural expansions.

 

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