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This event marked the inaugural Traditional Mas Exhibition and Competition hosted by the Grenada Carnival Committee (GCC).
Bands from all over the island journey to Sunset City to show off their portrayals of this unique aspect of Grenada’s carnival culture. Scores gathered to witness this historic event, which was deliberately placed in Victoria, considered the home of traditional mas.
In 2011, the GCC committed to highlighting traditional mas citing it as one of the areas that conveys a competitive advantage for Spicemas. At a press conference in May, Chairman Dowe said “as we position this economic cultural event called Spicemas, it is critically important that we identify what is our unique selling proposition. As we compete with regional carnivals we have to identify our competitive and comparative advantages and our jouvert and traditional mas convey just that.”
Although the Traditional Mas competition has been listed on the calendar of events over the last two years, financial constraints and the lack of an active ‘driver’ saw the postponement of the event. With the adoption of the theme ‘Uniquely Rooted in Our Rich Ancestral Traditions’ and the appointment of Traditional Mas Committee Chair, Ms. Claudette Joseph, there was a renewed energy to ensure that the activity kicked off this year. “We have lost too much of our history and our culture,” said Ms. Joseph. “As leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure the preservation and documentation of our culture. We cannot allow the Juju Warriors, the Maypole and others to suffer the same fate as our patios. We need to employ strategies to expose our youth to these cultural artforms and teach it in a manner that will guarantee its sustainability.”
The event did not only showcase the more prevalent forms of traditional mas like the Vieux Coux and Shortness but also had bands of Mud Mas players, Wild Indians, Moko Jumbies, Maypole dancers and Juju Warriors. One patron pointed out that she has never seen mud mas in Grenada and how delighted she was to see the revival of this band along with the children who danced the maypole complete with singing the songs in patois.
Part of last Saturday’s activity also included the presentation of awards to three (3) stalwarts of traditional mas for their lifetime of dedicated service to this aspect of Grenadian culture. Those recognized were Henezie Jeffrey, from Chantimelle in St. Patrick, who was a shortnee band leader for more than 30 years. Mr. Winston Sam of Gouyave, St. John has played Apache Indian for almost 55 years, with one of his most memorable portrayals being ‘Three Little Indians.’ Dubbed the most serious Vieux Coux in St. Mark, Mr. Livingston Hutchinson has been a player, leader and composer for Shortnee bands for over 60 years. Ms. Joseph informed the gathering that “the GCC and the Traditional Individuals and Bands Association (TIBA), wanted to emulate and recognise the many individuals who purely out of love for mas kept our culture alive by being leaders in bringing traditional mas to us for many years.”
Congratulations to all participants, including Young Generation Maypole Dancers, Sunset Rebel Vieux Coux and Hermitage Shortnee. Minister with responsibility for Culture, Senator Arley Gill during his presentation of the awards also conveyed special thanks to the Victoria Juju Warriors, Red Rose Wild Indians, Adelphi Mud Mas and St. John’s Moko Jumbie.The GCC anticipates that this inaugural Traditional Mas Exhibition and Competition will stimulate additional interest, which in turn will translate into larger bands on the streets on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.