Well, here we go again! Calypso controversy in and out of season and many practitioners do not seem ashamed of the disrepute that the art form is driven into year in and year out. It is not uncommon to hear that 'calypso is controversy' or it 'thrives on controversy'- end of story, book closed. Sometimes because our writers, performers and the Swinging Stars present a great show we misconstrue this to mean the things are good. Well, yes; creatively individuals harness their skills in uplifting the art form, but not necessarily administratively.
For instance, there is a $750,000 building owned by the Association , a white elephant, where basically one room is utilised to 'administer' which is re-done for executive meetings, calypso registrations and the sale of tickets for the Finals Show. Therefore, it is only open for three to four months; in the rest of the building "nothing's happening" save for one or two occasions when the building is rented. Again the DCA has had no elections for well over three years. Even those formally of Mas' Camp who bemoaned about a decade ago how things we ran and have now joined up, in executive positions, have practically shut up, perpetuating the same situation they have been mad about.
This delay in holding an AGM was brought forward at the last post-mortem meeting with the public at the UWI Centre and no plausible reason was given for the delay. For years , no web site; no training of new Judges ; no programmes for the Junior Monarch competitors; no recording facilities; no rental of property (the design of the building is not conducive to that) so some income could be derived; no fund -raising activity- practically nothing! Not even the long-advertised resignation of the president has happened to make way for new blood as we were told.
Yet we the calypsonians and writers remain silent. We are the harshest critiques of government, the system and society yet we can't put our own house in order- how ironic! 'We got to find a way' to take the mote out of our eyes before we can do so in our neighbours.
Now, and not for the first time, there is controversy within the inner workings of Mas' Camp. To the credit of the DCA management accusations such as these have not really surfaced during the Ras Kelly administration; however, I can't give the same rating for visionary leadership and ability to manage.
Why then is there so much controversy? Stardom Tent has gone overseas, as a tent, on a few occasions; Ann Marie Clarke has served as a promoter of Dominican calypsos in New York for almost two decades and such a scale of controversy has never been advertised in such graphic details on the radio as after the first overseas mission of the Mas' Camp. In the radio show, all linen, clean and dirty, was exposed via the media by the trio of Marlon, Annie and Pat- totally unnecessary! Now what moral authority do we have as calypsonians to point out societal wrongs in our compositions when our integrity is placed under the microscope?
I wish to suggest that accusations of real or imagined dishonesty will always surface when one is the leader of an organization and his or her spouse, is a major organizer, or other family members collect money, sell tickets and call the shots. The situation, again real or imagined, is even worst when one is the song writer for 95% of the calypsonians who sing in your tent and you have to vet every decision made in relation to judges for shows, positions of performances and performers etc. Isn't he same thing we as writers tend to accuse politicians of doing? Being autocratic?
The Dominica Calypso Association is the government of calypsonians, and the tents, sponsors and fans are our constituents, so much more is expected in terms of our own accountability than what we ask of our governments. Just like national elections are constitutionally due every five years, the DCA constitution dictates that as a registered body, elections should be held every year. We, calypsonians and writers, would have a lot to say if national elections were not called by 2015. Yet we continue this same illegality; no wonder Dr. A cannot take us seriously!
What's more, educated calypsonians who manage finance, who are bankers, have management degrees, who are civil servants, say nothing, or don't even offer themselves for office although they know things are not right. Too many of us are just concerned about our five minutes of fame, on stage. Probably the executive is right "they like it so," having read correctly, the body language or posture of the Dominican calypsonian.