Steel in the Night
It's Carnival Saturday night, and I am listening to an internet broadcast of the Prime Minister announcing the election of the new head of the PNP -- Portia Simpson-Miller.
But, as I listen to his words, my head and heart are filled with pride and astonishment at yet another Panorama Steelband Finals in the Savannah at Port of Spain, Trinidad.
I remember the first time I heard pan -- I was shocked that no-one ever told me that such a thing existed. Or maybe someone did, but I wasn't listening -- LOL.
Steel orchestras of over 100 people are wheeled onto a huge stage, and play the most exciting pan music I've ever heard, at a frenetic pace. The effect is astounding, as hundreds of percussion instruments roar into the night. Months of group practice come to a head. There is no sheet music, as the players have all learned their parts by heart through constant repetition. Some are playing a single steel drum with tens of notes. Others are playing nine steel drums with 3 notes or more each. Even others are using other percussion instruments, including traditional African drums, chimes, bells, car brakes and other instruments that have names that I am not acquainted with.
The miracle is that the source of this music comes from what looks to most of the rest of the world as garbage pans. That magic could come from rubbish is part of the miracle, and that Caribbean people are the innovators of this music is another. We, the people formed from "the stone that the builder refused" overcome the horrible tragedies of our past, and our historical status as the lowest members of the human race in the eyes of the earthly powers of the past few centuries.
I felt very, very proud tonight.