Books about Anguilla


Thursday, 16 August 2012


The cries for cancelling the Anguilla Summer Festival this year have subsided as many citizens have come to grips with the fact that to do so would be to surrender to those cowardly individuals who would seek to perpetrate violence and death against unarmed persons in our community. Undoubtedly, the community still deeply mourns the passing of those three young men who were cut down in the prime of their lives, this year, through senseless acts of violence. The Mighty Springer in one of his Calypsos for the up and coming Calypso Monarch Competition captures the essence of the pain involved as he asks the question in song: “Why did another mother’s child have to die?”

I was also very disappointed when one of our elected representatives suggested in the public media that perhaps “we should cancel carnival!” Of course we must be concerned for the safety of our citizens participating in the Summer Festival, in the wake of those criminal acts. However, our response as a community to such conduct must never be to retreat but rather to confront the issue determined that it should not be a deterrent to the enjoyment of our culture and traditions --- nor indeed, to our enjoyment of everyday living.

The Royal Anguilla Police Force (R.A.P.F.), under the leadership of Commissioner Rudolph Proctor, has over the last weeks dispelled many of the misconceptions and restored much confidence in the R.A.P.F.’s capacity to deal with the latest surge in youth and gun violence. This improved relationship not only brings a sense of security to participants and spectators in the Summer Festival but also augurs well for the future management of criminal situations in the wider community.I sincerely hope that the Commissioner’s plea for more forthcoming witness corroboration in their investigations will be realized as a result of this new positive development. 

The new Chairman of the Summer Festival Committee, Mr. Davon Carty, seems determined to make this season one with a difference --- but he has also made the wise decision to follow the template that was established by past Committees and not try to “reinvent the wheel”. All of this taking place at a time when the economy is faltering and the stories of unemployment; loss of businesses; loss of homes; loss of transportation; and hunger abounds. The jury is still out on whether Mr. Carty will achieve his objectives in such a hostile environment. However, it appears that to date he has been able to create a harmonious relationship with his committees and the wider community --- which can only be beneficial to his successful management of the entire Festival. I sincerely wish Mr. Carty and his team all the best in this endeavour.

Last year the South Valley Community launched its first Annual Street Fair. It takes place annually on the main street of the Village. August 4, 2012 is the scheduled launch date for this unique event this year, which like last year will highlight various aspects of our culture and tradition. You can look forward to this event the Saturday before August Monday each year. It will take place from 6.00 a.m. to sundown.

The SVC Street Fair is intended to take advantage of the hub of activity at the Landsome Bowl Cultural Center, which is actually situated in South Valley. There will be booths and tents lining the main road from the east beginning at the Roundabout next to Ashley’s & Sons Supermarket to Laurel’s Curiosity Shop in the west.

The Village will be decorated with festive streamers and banners. Amplified music and other forms of family entertainment (including a Bouncing Castle for the youngsters) will create an atmosphere of amusement and merriment befitting the Summer Festival spirit. There will be a Domino Competition; card games; and other table games. In fact there will be something for everyone. You will be able to visit the many booths, which will be selling food, confectioneries, drinks, clothing; hats; and shoes appropriate for the season.

The tents and booths will be managed by a number of vendors from the Village but a number of other persons have come up with some interesting ideas to enhance the quality of the event. Senior citizens will be especially looked after on this occasion in an area set aside for their relaxation and entertainment. It was a “blast” last year and now promises to be bigger and better this year. It is a wonderful event and I wish the South Valley Community Street Fair Committee and all its sponsors another successful year.

There will be Queen Shows, Pageants, Variety Shows, “Bandoramas”, Troupe Parades, J’ouvert Jams, and Boat races during the forthcoming Summer Festival. However, I must confess that my favourite events are the Senior Calypso Monarch and the Leeward Islands Calypso Monarch Shows. In fact, in recent times, I am guilty of only going into the Village on those two occasions. It has now become a tradition for a group of us to take up our places at the highest vantage point next to the fenced seating area, well-equipped with umbrellas and a steady flow of refreshments, to enjoy the show. For at least twenty years we have been in that same spot leaning on the perimeter fence behind that last row of seats. We listen critically and attentively to every single calypso presentation --- often making predictions as to the eventual winners of the contest. We have seldom expressed any serious opposition with the Judges’ decision.

Being a member of the Government for sixteen years in the position of Minister of Finance I have been the target/subject of many calypsos. But being a very zealous fan of the art form I have never taken eventhe harshest commentary, personally. I have been asked on occasion how could I stand there year in year out and enjoy the Show in the face of such lyrical bashing. Truth be told, I have enjoyed many of the artists who have bashed me the most --- mainly because I am confident in the inaccuracy of their comments on the one hand and on the other I consider them to have some form of poetic licensein the stories they weave. “I Spy” has always been one of my favorites because of his comedic style even when he uses the most degrading labels and I have had to take deep swallows at “Dynamite’s” most unfair scathing attacks even on the Webster Park at an Official Parade.

As a lyricist myself, I have always tried to be balanced in my compositions and have avoided raw politics, defamatory comments, sensational half-truths, and gossip. That is simply my particular writing style --- which in fact mimics the style I have tried to cultivate as a politician with a few exceptions that I personally regret. On the other hand there are some lyricists who can be very extreme in their commentaries and unkind in their characterizations. They in fact very often use this approach to amuse the audience rather than to be outright vicious or nasty. Their presentations are more often than not, lyrical caricatures rather than an accurate portrayal of the subject. Of course there are cases in my estimation that have seriously “crossed the line”.

The foregoing notwithstanding, I have never,verbally or otherwise, attacked a Calypsonian who bashed me in his/her song --- nor have I sought to have their compositions censored or banned. In fact I firmly believe that responding to such lyrical attacks brings more attention to the comments than would normally obtain and particularly in the case of a politician it shows weakness. It is in this general context, that I must express my disappointment at the Parliamentary Secretary, Haydn Hughes’ rancorous attack on Queen Bee, a well-known Calypsonian; formerSenior Female Calypso Queen; former Senior Calypso Monarchand former Miss Talented Teenon public radio last week. It seems obvious that the Parliamentary Secretary used this occasion to retaliate for the commentary in her latest hit “Burning Issues” which he seems to interpret as unfair to him. It appears clear that the Parliamentary Secretary was directing his comments at Queen Bee in her role as Chairperson of the Miss Anguilla Pageant Committee when he made the following statement here transcribed from the audio version:

“I believe umm even as it relates to the Ms. Anguilla, Ms. Anguilla there’s so much uncertainty. I remembered when Nurse Nanton was in charge of that that that committee, you know; you had a beautiful , elegant, trim lady coming to your home and say “hey, I want your daughter to be in the Ms. Anguilla” and you was like wow, Nurse Nanton beautiful, intelligent and so forth. But today we probably need to look at the person who’s going to their homes and asking to come out to be in the Ms. Anguilla contest. You know, when whenwhen someone who’s um 300, 400 pounds come to your door and say I would like your daughter to be Ms. Anguilla, to be in the Ms. Anguilla contest…”

I fully agree with Miss Webster (Queen Bee) when she stated:“Mr. Hughes’ comment regarding my weight is not only discriminatory, but disrespectful to me personally and to women on the whole.” The fact that Mr. Hughes, who is known to be a lyricist himself, reacted in this manner to a few lines in a calypso, which he does not appreciate,could indicate that he is not ready for “prime politics”. Politicians are the main targets of social commentary coming from those who practice the calypso art form. If Mr. Hughes wishes to follow in his father’s footsteps this is only the beginning of things to come.

It is my view that the number of negative reactions to Mr. Hughes’ behaviour should have by this time caused him to apologize for his statement. But I have evidence to prove that he has been quietly admonished to apologize and has bluntly refused to do so. His comment being: “I am not Victor Banks …..I will not sit down and let them ride me!”

I would like to suggest to Mr. Hughes that he is misinterpreting my response to social commentary in calypso. Calypso is geared towards entertaining. The content may seem unflattering from time to time --- but you should always be aware that today for me --- tomorrow for you. I had my share because I was in Government for sixteen consecutive years. You in Government now --- your time has come. Man up! Leave Queen Bee alone! Soak yuh blows like a man!! Carnival now start!

By: Victor F. Banks
Victor Banks is a former Finance, Economics, Commerce and Tourism Minister on Anguilla. He is presently the leader of the Oposition Anguilla United Front Party, writer and author of a weekly political article for The Anguillian News Paper, lyricist, and a self-employed entrepreneur.

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