Why is there a perpetual situation where “a prophet” has no fame or respect where his navel-string was laid forth? Fellow blogger and Bajan-Canadian jdid sent me a really fascinating bit of news – Barbados is intent on buying Trinidadian musical history and culture since their own Gov’t couldn’t be bored! This is what the cultural website had to say about the archivist, George D. Maharaj –
?I now have over 5,000 original vinyl records, from 1912 to 1989, the vast majority on Calypso, with some steelband, combo and limbo music,? Maharaj says. ?I also have hundreds of items of printed materials, audio tapes, video tapes, photographs, posters and artifacts on Calypso.?
He [says] as far as he knows, there are only four vinyl discs of Calypso recordings that he does not own, and he has a pretty good idea where to find these to complete his collection.
It is this archive that Maharaj is now talking about selling to the National Library of Barbados.
How is it that two administrations in Maharaj’s own homeland can show such apathy? The researcher has a first volume tracing the origins of Trinidad’s musical history and now he is on his way into a second edition, with copious amounts of evidence backing his studies –
?As early as 1987, I approached the National Alliance for Reconstruction government to start to preserve the art form, but before they attended to my cry they dismantled [were voted out of office] and never addressed my proposals,? he writes. ?I next approached the United National Congress government about the same proposal and had meetings with the culture, tourism, information, housing, [and] local government ministries and the Prime Minister.?
He says that ?no one seemed to care.?
?In 2001, I decided to tackle the People?s National Movement government about the same project,? Maharaj says. ?I had written communications with the Prime Minister, Culture Minister, Information Minister, Tourism Ministry and many other ministers but, again, no interest to date.?
He even ?produced a business plan for the establishment of a calypso museum and research centre,? but it was ?all in vain.?
In 2004 Maharaj published Volume One of his study The Roots of Calypso, and sold 4,000 copies worldwide. Launched in Toronto, it was subsequently launched in both Trinidad and Tobago, was accepted into the local school library system, endorsed by virtually every living Calypsonian, at home and abroad, and Maharaj received an enthusiastic letter from President George Maxwell Richards.
Yet Trinidad and Tobago is no nearer to the creation of a Museum or Centre for preserving its Calypso history, and Maharaj now despairs of any such activity.
?I have been collecting Calypso records, and doing Calypso research, since 1980,? he told Pride News Magazine. ?I can safely say that I possess one of the — if not the — largest Calypso collections in the world.?
The oldest recording is one from 1912, made by Jules Simms, who was what was then known as a ?Chantwell Singer.?
However Barbados’ DLP may be recalled for ruling here in five years hence, at least they would have done something for Caribbean culture and its history, but it is not enough to acquire the material, it must be carefully stored and preserved – that’s more money too, folks.