The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987

By Louis Regis | Go to book overview

2
The Model Nation 1963-1965

Independence Day celebrations over, the calypsonian returned to his traditional themes, and it is perhaps indicative of his loyalty to the PNM regime that he did not scrutinise the performance of a government which was showing unmistakable signs of decay and decadence after six years in office.1 Certainly the capacity for mature political satire was there, as is evident in Sparrow "Mr Robinson and Lockjoint" ( 1964), a song which satirises the social divisions of the society apropos of the setting up of an islandwide sewerage scheme2 but the fashion of the day, however, as Sparrow himself would affirm years later, ironically on the eve of the February Revolution, was to refrain from criticism: "Picong is fine and most people like picong on the government. But there is very little to laugh at in this government."3

In 1963 the absence of picong and criticism can be construed as calypsonian agreement with the position articulated by Sparrow.

Safe in this belief, the calypsonian transferred his attention to the dramatic explosions in the former Belgian Congo, to the volatile Cuban missile crisis and to strife torn British Guiana. These three were nearer home than it seems: Africa has always retained a romantic attachment for the Afro-Trinidadian; Cuba is a Caribbean sister and the United States, our Big Brother, is the metropole on which most West Indians fashion their future; and British Guiana's ethnic pluralism mirrors Trinidad's; further, British Guiana was a favourite stomping ground for Sparrow and others and was one of the first places outside of Trinidad to produce genuine calypsonians.

But danger stalked the streets of the city and the urban villages of the east- west corridor as gangs of youths staked out their turf and their patronised preserves with an amorality born of survivalism and crystallised in the Applejackers' street caption: "No Law, No God".4 Weapons used in these internecine wars included the traditional bottle and stone, cutlasses, iron bolts and razors, to which arsenals

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The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • 1 - The Calypso and Politics 1956-1962 1
  • 2 - The Model Nation 1963-1965 20
  • 3 - God Bless Our Nation 1966-1970 37
  • 4 - The Roaring Seventies 1971-1975 69
  • 5 - "I, Eric Eustace Williams" 1976-1981 121
  • 6 - "The Sinking Ship" 1982-1986 163
  • 7 - Happy Anniversary: the 25th Anniversary of Independence Calypso Monarch Competition 195
  • 8 - Ars Poetica 208
  • Conclusion 236
  • Afterword 238
  • Notes 240
  • Appendixes 257
  • Bibliography 269
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