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SOUND ECONOMIC ADVICE OR CULTURAL IGNORANCE? by Michael “Bro. Scobie” Joseph

posted 16 Dec 2015, 06:05 by Gerry Kangalee
How does senior economics lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Roger Hosein arrive at the position that investment by government in Carnival, the national festival, is “wasteful expenditure” and should be cut.

This statement triggered an alarm bell in my head. Then I started to quiet my mind with the fact that his academic qualifications and position would have given him the empirical data guiding his ridiculous pronouncements, which I somehow cannot accept nor digest. Maybe it’s only because I attended the school of hard knocks, or as the president of my organization, Pan Trinbago, would say they attended Oxford while he attended Docksford.

In order words, while some were studying hard to be scientists and doctors, some were working hard at developing a cultural identity for TnT, in the form of CALYPSO, MAS and STEELPAN which clearly identifies us as Trinbagonians across the globe. So, all must be respected as contributors to the development of sweet TnT.

To begin, Carnival is the largest revenue earner in the shortest period of time for this country and everyone involved benefits financially. I would not identify every individual groups and organization, but those picking up bottles, those selling water; straight up to the government which has identified a revenue stream of over $800 million dollars since 1985, of which less than 10% is reinvested.

Carnival is as much a spiritual expression, as it is cultural. One must be very careful when the thought of curtailing a people's cultural expression enters the mind. That is a clear sign of dementia: it is the same as trying to stifle the free spirit of a people. The results could do more harm than good to our still beautiful twin Island nation. Suppression and oppression comes in many different forms. Be careful!

Is the goodly doctor really giving sound economic advice, or is he expressing his ignorance of our cultural behaviour. Do you know Dr. Hosein, - and I know you're not alone on this, - that carnival acts as a pressure release valve for many? Are you trying to destabilize the country?

It’is in times like these, that you have described, when any sensible government would invest more money in its people-driven programs, especially Sports and Culture, to keep more young people focused and occupied in meaningful pursuits; not try to stifle the people's cultural expression by starving it of much needed seed money.

Carnival is the biggest creative industry we have, and in these times of so called recession, we must seek to expand and develop all aspects of it to derive full benefits for the country and its artisans. Identify another time in this country when so many people of all ages, gather in many different places, doing different things towards the same end? As the true Rastas would say iditate to otter, unless you have a specific agenda?

Now that oil is running low, our salvation lies in our natural creative spirit and abilities.
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