By Hudson George
Grenadians have to come to the realisation that banana boat will not be docking in St George's harbour on Mondays and Tuesdays again to pick up bananas as an export product to Europe anymore more. Britain does not care about us. We are no longer a British colony.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
The vast majority of us Grenadians are of African descent and it is in our genes. We love the rhythm of the drums; mixed with blowing of conch shells and the ringing of the bells. And we have been playing carnival long before slavery was abolished, since in the period under French rule.
Today we have a music and mas to portray with it called Jab Jab, but still we do not know how to market it because those we elect to govern us over the years are not grounded in the roots of the Grenada culture.
The average Grenadian believes our country’s economy can only grow if we go back to the land and plant agricultural products for marketing to the outside world. But if you ask them who will buy our agriculture products, they cannot give a direct answer. And when you listen to them carefully how they try to promote agriculture as the only means of saving the country economical, you can sense that they are still caught up in the old slavish colonial mentality. They lack the ability to think creatively to market non-agricultural products for a profitable income.
Every August month Grenadians celebrate two days of carnival on the streets throughout the mainland Grenada and, on the Monday and Tuesday before the Ash Wednesday Lenten period, there is also carnival celebration on the sister island Carriacou. Therefore, Grenada as a small country is blessed with celebrations of carnival twice a year, with various cultural events that are part of the celebrations.
For example, the calypso and soca monarch competitions, plus other big fete shows.
However, with all these activities within the carnival, when Monday morning comes, jab jab takes over the streets in the various towns. Presently, is widely known that Grenada has the best jouvert in the Caribbean. On Carnival Monday morning the streets of St George's and Grenville are overcrowded with jab jab revelers and, over the years, carnival lovers from neighbouring islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St Vincent and St Lucia travel to Grenada to enjoy the jab jab culture. And what is more amazing these days, Jamaican flags are represented in some of the mas bands.
But yet still, all the big time folks within the Ministry of Culture still do not have the simple commonsense to declare a special day in Grenada as Jab Jab Day Celebration.
Government comes and government goes, but it seems as though those who have the authority to make changes are blind and they cannot see what is going on within the society, in terms of marketing Grenada culture as a means of making financial profit.
And while they are losing financial gains that they could make easily from a Jab Jab Day Celebration, they divide themselves into two major political parties and keep blaming each other’s political organisation for the poor economic situation in the country.
Those of us living in Canada know that Caribbean carnival celebrations bring in economic gains for business people in Toronto and Montreal. Caribbean immigrants brought carnival celebrations to Toronto and Montreal, and attract the biggest celebration in Canada. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that Toronto Caribbean Carnival generated over $450 million into the economy in 2013. Imagine that the three levels of government in Canada understand the importance of carnival from an economic perspective and they allow Caribbean people to play mas in Toronto and Montreal, even though Caribbean people are marginalised when it comes to jobs employment opportunities, racial profiling and policing.
Now if Canada is benefiting from carnival that was brought by Caribbean immigrants and mostly controlled by Trinidad and Tobagonians, why can't Grenada government officials do the right thing and give us a special day to celebrate our Jab Jab culture? It is time for us as a people to get things right and accept the fact that Jab Jab music and dance is as valuable as nutmeg, cocoa and banana because it can enhance income within the tourist industry.
High winds and hurricanes cannot destroy the Grenada Jab Jab culture. The music, the dance and the costume associated with jab jab comes from we the people. It is our culture and we must make the best out of it to the greatest capacity. Therefore, I am pleading to the Grenada government officials, to do the right thing and give us a special day to celebrate Jab Jab Culture. Carnival Monday and Tuesday is not enough.