Carnival Without Pan

Carnival… a time when all mankind attending express camaraderie, oneness. I kiss you, you kiss me, the excesses might alarm the onlooker, with bodies of all sizes, exposing their bulges and blotches. Some almost get naked, close to being charged with indecent exposure. 

Brazilian Carnival Queen Nayara Justino

 Caribbean sugar cane juice produces the best rum in the world; the masses participating in Carnival imbibe to a level of almost deliriousness.  

This festival is of European Christian origin, brought by the colonizers to the Caribbean and South America. The African slaves having been indoctrinated about Easter being symbolic of the rise of Christ, were told they could celebrate to that Tuesday, for the next day Wednesday and six weeks thereafter, fasting from sinful actions until Easter. Church on Sunday, Monday fly kites, indicative of Jesus on his way to heaven. 

Africans are inherently musical: wood flutes, skin drums, bare foot dancing. Music, and scripture, kept them starting a revolution every day. 

Apart from picking cotton, and working in the sugar cane fields, oil was discovered by the white carpetbaggers; this oil had to be shipped in steel drums. The African living in Trinidad and Tobago (an oil producing territory) discovered he could fine tune a steel drum to play musical notes; his white masters were playing on violins and other string and wind instruments. In no time he was able to compose a complete orchestra using steel drums. What better to showcase his unique invention but at Carnival. 

It became so imperative, that if there was no “pan” music, there was no carnival, throughout the Caribbean. 

The Caribbean “heart and soul” “the black slave”, brought Carnival to North America. “We” have dashed the colonial baggage, no “lent” … just “fun”; and the only time we can do this in cold North America, is Summer. 

“Wha happen boy, no pan music this year?” to use a Caribbean parlance. The pandemic (Corona virus) No “wining” no “twerking”; social distancing. I can’t French kiss you, you can’t French kiss me; but we can do it viral! 

Baltimore MD. Had its first viral Carnival. Carnival without “pan”. 

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