Saint Lucia
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Carnival, Christianity and Caribbean Tourism in Century 21

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

God Make Man
Man Make Money
God Make Woman
To Eat Man Money!

Newcomers to the annual Caribbean carnivals of partying-without-end were more amazed than amused this year, by the way the song with the above chorus dominated this week’s daily revelry jump-ups in Saint Lucia, from J’Ouvert and Monday Melee to Last Lap Tuesday night, all-along the lengthy highways from Choc to The City.

Living within close proximity to the annual bacchanal of bands, calypsonians, sounds and thunderous pounding of today’s increasingly-louder IT and other Hi-Fi sound systems — and without any healthy decibel limits — I’ve also developed a very-high level of disconnection that allows me to snore-away peacefully, any time of day or night, despite the ding-dong dins.

But even without leaving home, the prevalence of the most tongue-twisting or sense-defying lyrics on the tongues of Lucians-at-Large before and after the annual ‘Kannaval’, is always a perfect yardstick to measure both the popularity of the oft-repeated songs and trying to understand the intended messages from the most-popular ones.

It will make absolutely no sense, during the season, to even try to ask any question — far-less expect an understandable answer – of anyone singing the popular chant linking God and Man to Woman and Money.

But, just watch the facial expressions of women (in particular) when singing the popular chant and – ten to one – you’ll most-likely see extra-special emphasis on expressing the last line…

So, the natural questions will arise after the din dies:

Did God really make women ‘to eat men’s money…’?

Do those who sing-it-out so-heartily, really believe it’s true?

And why do those who know it’s just not true, still sing it so-happily?

The few I discuss such matters with often blame the ‘changes’ on the ‘change’ of the Carnival Season from February to July for everything they disagree with.

Most blame the ‘I Doh Care’ (‘Mwen Pa Maylay’) expressions of degeneration from artistic costumes to colored panty-and-bra expressions of gay abandon on alleged “removal of Carnival from the Christian calendar” that sees Ash Wednesday mark the end of the ‘carnal’ season and the start of ‘40 Days of Lent’.

Others reply that the move was “not to de-Christianize carnival” but to shelter it from annually having to shadow the greatest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) carnival in Trinidad & Tobago.

This trend argues that Carnival could not have become a tourism revenue-earner for Saint Lucia at the same time as T&T, so moving it to July and summer vacations in the Caribbean Diaspora could better-help attract nationals to ‘Come back home’ and ‘Jump Mas!’

Some Christians will claim the ‘sinful manifestations of carnival today’ are a consequence of ‘extracting it’ from its original evolution as an activity tied to Christianity in Europe that came to the region with Colonialism and Slavery and grew its own indigenous Caribbean character over the five-plus decades since Columbus opened the way for European conquest and genocide in 1492.

But cultural realists also argue that while the Christian element was choreographed by The Church, Ash Wednesday’s complete and necessary destruction of all carnival costumes painfully and innovatively created to capture public imagination and appreciation, simply because of their supposed ‘Pagan’ character, was very counter-productive to longevity of appreciation of artistic creations.

So, what’s all that got to do with how women and men ‘let-go’ and ‘breakaway’ in a free annual public carnival of mutual unlimited fusion, without fear or favor, in ways none would on a normal day?

Here again, the responses will vary as far and wide as between long and short, deep or shallow – or may even end-up in very-stretched comparisons of individual abilities to gauge the elasticity of the human body, whether or not from a gender perspective.

Indeed, whether in February or July, Caribbean Carnivals have always been about men and women ‘jumping-up’ more freely than ever, with license to over-imbibe and misbehave, within non-violent limits — and only subject to overnight station detention, if a sober cop remembers he or she’s on duty, even though very-unable to keep any peace.

Carnival in February always featured different forms of violence, especially on J’Ouvert Morning and on Monday and during Tuesday evening reveling, when the day’s quota of booze will have heightened spirits and lowered tempers to respective extremes.

Back then, it was men clashing over women (or vice versa), victims suffering knife or broken-bottle stabs, all requiring no-more than on-the-spot treatment by an ever-ready St. John’s Ambulance Brigade or Red Cross unit, or a brief visit to Victoria Hospital’s ‘Casualty’ department – and rushing back to continue Playing Mas.

Today, just as the expressions of carelessness have accelerated, so have the expressions of violence, today involving arms and ammunition or deadly domestic weapons (from knives to cutlasses) – and more gangster-style imported and home-made weapons for mass local rival destruction.

Like I said, I’ve been around long-enough to even try to even think of wondering about asking anyone to explain why they’d sing such songs.

Instead, I silently observe and take copious mental notes to continue analyzing the amazing phenomenon we lightly call ‘a Lucian’ in Century 21.

The accentuated national ‘leggo’ outburst on the streets in and out of Castries for Carnival 2023 is the first with absolutely no regard for any COVID restrictions, as with the like-responses to Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts 2023 having also broken records.

Whether the curtains came down last night or today, when the dollars and cents are finally counted, the bands and vendors will most-likely be very happy that Saint Lucians took the tourism officials’ advice to seriously ‘Doh let the Weather stop Vaval…’

And all that talk and song-and-dance about God having ‘made woman to eat man’s money’, never mind it’s crappy application, will just continue — until Carnival 2K24.

Why?  Because this is who we — citizens of the Caribbean’s new entertainment capital – are, since the electoral carnival of July 2021.