By Hudson George
Grenadians disobeyed the law and celebrated Carnival on August 9 -10, 2021. Their defiance shows that people have power and they can defeat the system that governs them when they are united under one banner.
Thousands of young people took to the streets and challenged the authorities. They celebrate Carnival even though police officers were present on the streets in the towns of Grenville and Sauteurs where the majority of revellers occupied. The vast majority of masqueraders were from the rural parishes where villages play the traditional authentic popular Jab Jab mas’ with their body painted in black and enjoying the traditional Jab Jab music/rhythm of the drums, blowing of the conch shell and ringing of the bell.
Grenada is the only Caribbean country that has two carnival celebrations annually in the same year. On the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the citizens celebrate carnival the Monday and Tuesday before Ash-Wednesday, and on mainland Grenada Carnival celebration is on Monday and Tuesday in the second week of August.
However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Caribbean governments have cancelled Carnival celebrations but in Grenada, the government is encountering stiff opposition. Carnival lovers have defied the government banned on the celebration on mainland Grenada.
Last year, they disobeyed the law and celebrate carnival in the northern town Sauteurs. This year 2021 they disobeyed the law again and celebrate carnival in rural parishes’ towns of Grenville, Sauteurs, Gouyave and Victoria.
Citizens are divided on the issue. Some people are saying that the youth are fed up with the ruling NNP government due to high unemployment; so they are rebelling for a regime change. Others are saying that they are tired of the COVID-19 lockdown and strict protocols, even though Grenada doesn’t have any case of COVID deaths among the local population.
They are saying that Grenadians don’t have COVID, therefore, the country should be open up for citizens to enjoy a normal life as they are accustom to before the pandemic.
Prior to the buildup this year, illegal carnival celebration, citizens and police encountered confrontations when the police entered the villages in the rural communities to stop Jab Jab masquerader’s fete. In some encounters there were clashes between Jab Jab lovers and the police, where arrests were made, police got injured and drums were confiscated by the lawmen to stop the Jab Jab parties.
However, that did not stop the Jab Jab fete. On some occasions, they used plastic buckets and tin pans to beat the Jab Jab rhythm in the villages. Now that the carnival is over, it doesn’t seem as though the police will file charges against the leaders of those Jab Jab bands as they had threatened to before the carnival celebration.
Grenada has a majority youthful population. About 65 percent of the population is in their thirties and under. The government cannot be too harsh on the youth. The youth votes are important. Nevertheless, some youth are saying that the government favour citizens living in southern parts of Grenada where the wealthy people reside, while the police are harassing them in the rural communities.
However, it will be interesting to see how the government will handle the situation as the carnival is over. Whatever happens, will be a lesson for future regimes. Grenadians love their Jab Jab mas’ culture. Therefore, when it is carnival season, Jab Jab lovers will find ways and means to celebrate their Jab Jab mas’ culture.
It is said, ‘Jab is we thing and the Jab always win.’