Ole mas disappearing in Sando

Monday, March 4, 2019 - 13:15

While the young and young at heart rev­elled in the paint, pow­der and wa­ter dur­ing J’Ou­vert fes­tiv­i­ties in San Fer­nan­do, there wasn’t much for the old­er spec­ta­tors who came out hop­ing to see tra­di­tion­al mas.

There was on­ly de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Blue Boy who of­fered some po­lit­i­cal and so­cial satir­i­cal por­tray­als for the judges and spec­ta­tors at Har­ris Prom­e­nade on Car­ni­val Mon­day, prompt­ing con­cerns that the art­form may be dy­ing.

Blue Boys bandleader Val Ram­s­ingh, 68, said that af­ter play­ing ole mas with the band for the past 37 years, he was wor­ried that when he and his bandmates re­tire, it will be the end for the ole mas in the city.

How­ev­er, he is com­mit­ted to keep­ing it alive.

Blue Boys pre­sen­ta­tion of Mind Yuh Busi­ness was in ho­n­our of for­mer band mem­ber, George “Bun­ny” Di­ef­fen­thaller, who died on New Year’s Day.

Di­ef­fen­thaller is al­so the fa­ther of so­ca star Kes. Ty­ronne Nanan, the de­fend­ing J’Ou­vert King, first took the spot­light, swing­ing an Oreo Cook­ie while hold­ing the plac­ard, “Row-Lee Ad­dress to the Na­tion”. Next up, Dave Jag­ger­nath’s Sa­van­nah Grass showed that his grass was not meant to walk on, but to be smoked.

“We go­ing to de­crim­i­nalise that soon. Right, Faris?” said Ram­s­ingh while nar­rat­ing the por­tray­al.

Even the de­par­ture of San­dals from To­ba­go was fea­tured with mas­quer­aders walk­ing bare feet on the as­phalt with the plac­ard “All To­bag­o­ni­ans Bare­foot. No San­dals.”

While spec­ta­tors en­joyed the pre­sen­ta­tion, it was short lived as Ram­s­ingh said some of his mem­bers had lost their way to the judg­ing point.

He told spec­ta­tors that ole mas was the av­enue for the low­er class to throw their in­sults and com­men­tary on the lives of the bour­geoisie.

How­ev­er, he said the band start­ed off with 175 mas­quer­aders but as the years went by it be­came dif­fi­cult to sell 25 jer­seys and this year the band on­ly had 25 mas­quer­aders.

“I re­mem­ber Hol­ly Be­taudi­er form­ing the parang band­wag­on when parang was dy­ing. We need to do some­thing like that to res­cue ole mas and J’Ou­vert. We are look­ing to re­mod­el it, but we don’t want to di­lute the brand.

You do not di­lute a brand so we are look­ing for spon­sor­ship. We don’t want J’ Ou­vert to de­scend in­to a street par­ty. We are try­ing our damnest to keep this alive and it seems the pow­ers who are in charge of this are do­ing every­thing to de­stroy it,” Ram­s­ingh said.

In an in­ter­view, San Fer­nan­do May­or Ju­nia Re­grel­lo said the phas­ing out of tra­di­tion­al mas was some­thing that has to be ac­cept­ed. Re­grel­lo said there are new trends de­vel­op­ing, where­by young peo­ple are not in­ter­est­ed in “plac­ard mas”.

“They are not bring­ing that hu­mour that we used to know.

They are more in­to the rev­el­ry and the plea­sure and the en­joy­ment of Car­ni­val and the mu­sic. In every­thing, there is give and take, and I will hold on to the tra­di­tion of what J’Ou­vert used to be

. If it is dy­ing, there is noth­ing we can do about it as the young peo­ple are not in­ter­est­ed in that any­more.

“The whole Car­ni­val is chang­ing, it’s evolv­ing. What tran­spired in the years gone by is no longer ex­cit­ing to some peo­ple.

Young peo­ple are bring­ing a new ap­proach, trends in­to what Car­ni­val is. Look at the ca­lyp­so tents for in­stance.

Look what hap­pened last night with the Di­manche Gras show. It does not have that cap­tive au­di­ence as be­fore.

We have to go with the times,” Re­grel­lo said.

Reporter: Kevon Felmine