28 Years of August Mas


Featured Article - by Dexter Mitchell
May, 2009

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“Playin Ah August Mas Since 1981”

The Tri-Island State of Grenada Carriacou and Petit Martinique gained independent state-hood status on February 07th 1974.

The euphoria of this momentous occasion has been celebrated each year with great exhilaration.

Intervention by the higher forces that preside over such matters as calendars and dates would not have been able to sufficiently and satisfactorily sort out the dilemma of February 1978.

On February 07th 1978, Grenada was going to celebrate its fourth (4th) anniversary of Independence. That same day would have been the culmination of the 1978 Carnival season, Carnival Tuesday.

The then Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy thought it a good idea to have the 1978 Carnival culminate on Easter Monday and Tuesday which was to be celebrated in the later part of March.

As expected that idea did not seat too well with the Conference of Churches and an impromptu survey through out the various denominations served as evidence that the wider populace was not in favor of combining one of the Holiest times of the year with a popular secular festival.

An alternative date of May was then set and so the 1978 Carnival celebrations took place for the first time the fifth (5th) month of the year.

With the Overthrow of the Gairy Government in March of 1979, and the ensuing tensions that followed the 1979 Carnival season was cancelled altogether.

However, in 1980 the People’s Revolutionary Government of Maurice Bishop brought back Grenada’s biggest and most important cultural undertaking. The May date was adapted for the 1980 Carnival season, in fact the PRG used the occasion to assure the outside world that all was well with Grenada; at least the advertising for the Season suggested that.

After lengthy consultations and feasibility studies the PRG decided that the Month of August provided the best opportunity for the full benefits of Carnival to be realized. There was the lack of competition from Trinidad and Tobago’s February Carnival, the opportunity also existed for expatriate Grenada and their siblings and all persons with Grenadian roots to be able to return Home during the summer months of the North America and European seasons.

1981 was a most memorable year for fans of Carnival in general and fans of Calypso particularly. Calypsonian Timpo rocked the Queens Park to walk away with the coveted Calypso crown and was the undisputed Road March winner with a song entitled “We Want We Carnival”.

The Flying Turkey later captured the period, which will henceforth be synonymous with carnival in Grenada, Spicemas.