Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's Time To Clean Up St. Lucia Carnival

It's been said, time and time again, that Carnival is bacchanal. That the shock and disgust many express year after year as a result of the debauchery and drunken sexual behaviour is what Carnival is really all about, and the expressions of concern come from a bunch of prudes who should just stay home or go to the beach.

In essence this approach chooses to excuses all vile, sexual, drunken, and very often unlawful behaviour which would not be tolerated on any other day. From highly intoxicated minors to mature gogehs, astounding wardrobe malfunctions, bodily malfunctions, and everything else in between. Lets face it Carnival shocks the senses!

However we must, as a civilized society, decide when enough is enough and set limits to the seemingly limitless imagination and determination by too many revelers to be more raunchy than the previous year's offerings on the road. We are well aware that alcohol is a major contributor to problems not only at Carnival but at every other event and occasion known to man. It is also against the law to be drunk in public. According to the wording of one of the associated charges, "drunk and disorderly." 

The carnival band organizers, sponsors, and all involved in this cultural event need to up the ante and be significantly more responsible in their civic duty and responsibility. The changes which need to be made must start from the top and trickle down since it is easier to have the responsible parties set the conditions of participation in the bands and events.

What happens during our Carnival portrays St. Lucia to the world. Is much of what we see on the road how we really want the rest of the world to see us? Censorship of the sounds and images is not what I am alluding to but rather the behaviour of revelers in the first place.

We need to start by dealing with the serious problem of alcoholism which exists in Saint Lucia. Many will not like to hear this but alcohol is the root of almost every problem which occurs during Carnival and other events in St. Lucia. The drunkenness and unfettered consumption of alcohol in public and at all Carnival events must addressed by the authorities. Alcohol is being served to minors in the bands from their trucks and at after-fetes with absolutely no restraint. Minors should not be allowed in adult bands and neither should they be at their fetes where alcohol is being served. No sob stories, it is known.

Photo with the permission of Raymond Auguste
There must also be some form of control on how alcohol is dispensed to revelers on the road. Sponsors like LIME, Digicel, the Brewery, St. Lucia Distillers, and others must insist on conditions appropriate for the offering of alcohol during these events. The government MUST set these guidelines as they are responsible for the direction of this cultural event. There cannot be an endless flow of alcohol to already heavily intoxicated individuals. Sponsors and bands should not be allowed unbridled raining of alcohol as part of the sponsorship and advertising conditions. It is high time this situation be dealt with since those currently concerned have done, at best, a very poor job.

Photo with the permission of Audie Alexander Photography
The image we project must be cleaned up to a more family oriented display. There comes a time when we have to decide what is acceptable and what needs to be tossed out. That time has come. The idea of Carnival is definitely not one of a church choir but downright nastiness and perverse behaviour in the name of fun can no longer be tolerated.

Carnival is supposed to be fun. Lets make it so for all Saint Lucians. The financial side of this cultural event is as important as in any other and continues to bring handsome dividends to band leaders and many others involved. Never the less we cannot focus solely on the moneymaking aspect of Carnival and allow the quality and image do go down in the dumps until it all comes crashing around our heads. Lets be responsible and encourage a Carnival which can do much more for Saint Lucia than allow us a few days of wining in the streets.

Enough is ENOUGH!!