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‘Let them sing’

By RICHARDSON DHALAI Tuesday, February 25 2014

click on pic to zoom in
DRINK IN HAND: A woman, portraying Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, holds a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, while Roderick 'Chucky'...
DRINK IN HAND: A woman, portraying Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, holds a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, while Roderick 'Chucky'...

TWO Government Ministers yesterday said that while they do not approve of the content of several calypsos which lambasted Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and made blatant references to the PM and alcohol, they insisted that calypsonians must be free to express themselves in song, “once they don’t go overboard.”

During the National Calypso Monarch semi-finals on Saturday at Skinner Park, San Fernando, several calypsonians sang a number of songs chock full of political picong most of which targetted the People’s Partnership’s performance with biting lyrics aimed at Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan.

In her performance, Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper, whose mannerism on stage sought to mimic that of the Prime Minister, sang: “Ah know you fraid them boys in the cabal, especially Moonilal Coonilal; but he’s not a threat, he studying Range Rover.”

Moonilal yesterday said he attended the show and pointed out that the San Fernando-leg of the competition, dubbed Calypso Fiesta, has for many years played host to songs that have been anti-government, no matter which party was in power at the time.

“It is quite common at the Fiesta for the government of the day, whether it is UNC or PNM to get a fair share of critical appraisal. It is up to the government to listen to the views of the people as expressed in calypso and act appropriately. So let them sing,” Moonilal said.

“The national community as well as the calypso judges themselves, will judge whether a calypsonian has crossed the line. As a government we take all things in stride,” Moonilal said. “Calypsonians have one day to express their view while we the politicians have the other 364 days to express ours. So it is up to us to listen to them when they speak.”

Moonilal said once a song does not seek to divide or denigrate races and classes of people in society, he saw no problem with differing points of views being expressed.

For his part, Works Minister Suruj Rambachan said he was “not perturbed” by the calypsos saying political commentary plays a major part in annual Carnival shows and competitions.

“Listen, the calypsonian has a right just like everybody else to express themself once that expression falls within the ambit of the law and what is acceptable by society. So I am not perturbed by the calypsos. You have to respect their right to sing and express their views,” Rambachan said.

“However, calypsonians must understand that they also have a duty not to go overboard with their lyrics and offend rather than entertain,” Rambachan cautioned. Asked about the scathing lyrics in some songs which appeared to be an attack on the Prime Minister and also the almost naked reference to an alleged drinking habit, Rambachan said attacks against the PM happened the day after the Partnership won the 2010 general election. “The Prime Minister has been the subject of attacks but the reality is she has survived and this government continues to deliver on its promises made to the people,” Rambachan said.

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