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Last updated: 03 February, 2008 - Published 11:04 GMT
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Carnival and history
carnival dancers
Questions have been raised over the commercialisation and 'modernisation' of carnivals
The annual carnival season in the Caribbean is kicking off with Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Haiti, Aruba and Curacao.

There are also events in Guadeloupe, Martinique, the Dominican Republic, French St Martin, Bonaire and Guyana’s Mashramani late February.

But are carnivals in the Caribbean in danger of losing their social and historical relevance by becoming too modern and commercial?

Or is it just a matter of changing with the times?

Have your say

I agree. Let’s not forget our African history.
NYC and Dominican Republic

Carnival is just a disgusting excuse to do immoral rubbish every year! It's monotonous and lewd, and every year it gets less and less. It's the same thing every year.
What I want to know is why do people get top notch security parading disgustingly on the streets while the crime in the region is terrible??? The Caribbean needs to set its priorities right!
Javid Ali

Carnival is a great cultral tradition that serves to display and solidify our respect for diversity, while we can tone down the nudity a bit we certainly need to continue this celebration of our nations freedom and pride in who we are.

Carnival is an expression of a people's passions. In the past that passion was channelled into forms of political agitation as we fought for the right to determine our own destiny. Now that we have that choice such passions will inevitably change. Those who look at the joyous celebrants as they throng the streets of Port of Spain, are completely missing the point. We musn’t lock ourselves into the past mould of "revolution". We are now truly moving into an "evolution". We like to say that God is a Trini, that we are truly a blessed people. If that is indeed the case then let us make a joyful noise and truly revel in our revelry.
Kurleigh Martin
San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago

I think some carnivals are losing their social and historical focus. But I must still give props to Dominica. They are still on top with the most original carnival in the world. That’s the only country that still keep their culture going. No one else in the Caribbean can play like music like boyoun, cadance etc and I think they will remain on top for a long time.
Josh Penn
Roadtown, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

I appreciate the need to evolve with the times but we cannot use that as an excuse to desert everything. The present is a product of the past, so we should definitely think before we abandon our heritage.
There are certain things which are unique to the Caribbean and unique to the countries of the Caribbean from which they originate. If we change everything "with the times" then what would make these countries and the Caribbean special?
Davin Jack
Kingston, Jamaica

Since 1914 when the first calypso recording was made, calypso has always been poised for global commercial success. Unfortunately, that kind of success never materialized and when the world focused on the Caribbean for its music it was reggae that became a commercial sensation.
One noteworthy change that was taking place was the redefining of what calypso music is.
If you are a fan of reggae then you cannot be a calypsonian, so the genre “raga soca” was born. If you are of East Indian persuasion then your genre became “chutney soca”, for the Christians among us the term “gospelypso” was coined and if you have a very good voice and admire the likes of Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston then your genre is now “groovy soca”.
While we continued to define and redefine all of what should be calypso some other developments have also contributed to the ruin of the artform.
Much hasn’t changed since our ancestors began beating drums on the plantations. The genre and everything it entails is geared to inform and amuse.
The practitioners of the artform must quickly recognize that as with everything else in life change is inevitable. Calypso has gone through many changes recently, however, that does not necessarily mean we have to invent a new brand of music or a new sound with each such change.
Condensed from an article submitted by Dexter Mitchell

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