Shaina Brown

Growing up Christian in Carnival Country

Shaina Strawberrie -

Tags: Life

Growing up Christian in Carnival Country

"Iron man oh he sweeter than when he lick the pan
Jam iron woman does leave they man
Iron man oh he sweeter than honey lick the pan jam iron
woman does leave they man..."

I recall in my single digit youth, when Republic Bank used to have their annual fetes at their sports grounds in Barataria. I eagerly wanted to get to bed, so I could stay wide awake and listen for my favorite soca songs live! I would silently scream along with the feters and sing along to what seemed like all the songs.

Krosfyah's 'Pump me up' drove me wild! Im not sure if they performed that song at that particular fete back in 1994, but 26 years later, 'Pump me up' is one of my favourite Soca songs.

Sunday was the Lord's day but Carnival Sunday (Dimarche Gras) my family and I would be glued to the television. Images of those spectacular costumes parading the stage almost put me in a trance and I had so many questions.
"How the people holding up this 'heavy thing'?"
"Who makes these things?"
"How long did they take to make it?"
It looked all so glamorous, with the hard work and creative imagination of these mas makers.

It was exhilarating!

Dont talk about Calypso Monarch? I have memories of my father in deep concentration listening to the social and political commentary of the calypsonians. Extempo was his absolute favourite!

There was one Carnival time in my early teens, when a family friend took us to see Monday mas, and it was my very first time. The Soca was blasting off the music trucks and I could feel the sound pulsating through my veins! The whole event was like the worst trick the universe could play on me, as I knew I could not dare sing or move a muscle to the music with my mother present.

Growing up Christian in Carnival Country was HARD (for me)! When you are born in the Caribbean, it seems like rhythm and bass is implanted into our genetic code. On one hand, I was conflicted between the church I attended preaching that Carnival is of the flesh and it is sin, and on the other, I couldn't help how my body and vocal cords felt when I heard the music. "Carnival Camp" was one of those events our parents would send us to, so we could get away from these carnal desires and worship the Lord.

That didn't help me. My mind still drifted to the bacchanal that was taking place down the hill side.

To this day, I have NEVER been to a single fete in my entire life. The closest I have been to Carnival was following Sherwin Winchester on a big truck in St. James, and storming Campus Carnival at the UWI. At the time of these events, I felt like I had committed the biggest rebellion of my life!
"They would never believe this! If only they saw me!" I burst out in hysterical laughter to myself. Then my moral compass would come full circle and question my loyalty to the Lord.

Now? I guess you can call me a heathen.

Calypso and Soca music will always be a part of my existence.
I love music.
There is something about the voices of the artiste and the energy that flows with it that resounds within me.
I feel like jumping, I feel like screaming, I feel like holdin' someting' and waving, but...
Somewhere deep down there is a piece of consciousness that wouldn't allow my body to fully indulge.

To be completely honest, not actively partaking in Carnival activities, does not bother me.
At least once I would like to attend a fete or play Jouvert, just to experience the hype.
If it happens, it happens.
Until then, bet your ass I will move my body once the music sways me right, any day, any time.

"Jump around and make some noise," - Nailah Blackman

Header: Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash


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