Trinidad & Tobago - Do cultures really die hard?

But while we cannot change ‘the’ culture, we can change ‘a’ culture…through mentality change, it can happen.

A culture of rightness in T&T has changed to a culture of lawlessness. How so? Many people’s mentality have worsened. A culture of unappreciativeness for pan has changed to a culture of appreciativeness for pan. How? More people’s mentality changed to learning, understanding and loving its value and varied specialness and benefits.

But two key mentalities which shaped a culture, severely crushing T&T, those which must be perished are: The heavy-to-improve, and the-anything-mediocre-is-ok.

Once something is proposed as being beneficial, we should open the mind enough, to at least hear it.

As the great philosopher, Mahatma Gandhi, asserted relating to positively peaking, “we must think out of the box,” and “we must be optimistic.”

Pan anthem for T&T Olympic medalling athletes

What are our thoughts surrounding T&T’s national anthem to be played ‘by a T&T steel orchestra’ at Olympic Games or other international games when T&T athletes are being medalled?

Other countries’ anthems have been played on (their) pan, but for Opening Ceremonies. A thought spawned by the president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) and Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, Brian Lewis, in his silent protests over the lack of true world recognition of the national instrument and the weakly (local) propellant to get pan to the peak, and his advocacy for its global respect.

“The national anthem should be played on pan whenever Team T&T climbs on a podium at all games under the auspices of the T&TOC which is also the T&T Commonwealth Games Association. “I strongly advocate such.”

Elected to serve in 1997, and as president in 2013, Lewis hit the ground running approaching sport from a forward-looking perspective – recommended a series of new structures and policies, embarked upon a host of unprecedented initiatives, and lobbied for new rules and laws to govern sport.

A stickler for change and betterment, “Lewis welcomed the publication of the Caribbean Commonwealth Sports Law book, the ‘first’ of its kind, launched in January 2019, describing it as “a landmark publication that is necessary for today’s society.” (Trinidad Guardian February 4)

While it is unknown if the law book, written in part by a T&T national, educates on laws governing medal-ceremony music at local or international Games, and for proposed changes, the protocols thereof, what can be helpful, is to ascertain what the respective games officials’ thoughts are on breaking tradition from customarily-used music, such as of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) or the British Philharmonic.

To have a national steel orchestra (NSO) or the state-owned National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO) do the honours, however, would indeed be the “first of its kind,” and certainly be a “landmark” opportunity for (local) pan “that is necessary for today’s society.”

The TTOC trademark

The TTOC Trademark, registered as the official trademark in 2016, comprises one of the national birds, the Hummingbird, with its body being that of a tenor pan. In flight, it’s poised upon the name Trinidad and Tobago as seated on the Olympic insignia, the five rings. The black or third represents Africa, the diaspora from which pan originated in T&T.

Would Pan Trinbago and the related ministries take-up this feat post-haste and with alacrity?

An Experience

Described as adventurous and forward-looking, the LSO “recorded more than 200 national anthems for Olympics and Para-Olympic Games in 2013, 10-12 minutes to sight-read and record each piece. “52 recording hours with each recording a unique arrangement for Olympics,” says conductor and composer, Phillip Sheppard, who strongly advises “to learn world Geography, as each anthem, no matter how short or long, had to be 90 seconds for special reasons.

“Due to the complexity of staging the ceremony, it is not possible for all music to be live.”

Is T&T ready for the discipline? Can we aim for all nations’ medallists?

With the global audience of the Olympic Games, should local pan be exposed to such ears, no telling the gravity of tourism boost for T&T, the opportunities for local pan as the pinnacle of acceptability impacts the creation of the pan hierarchy box.