Mash 2013: Finalists’ calypsos banned from state airwaves

Mash finalists’ calypsos banned from state airwaves

Stabroek News – February 23, 2013 – | Comments

The songs of the ten finalists in this year’s Mashramani calypso competition have been banned from the airwaves of the state-run National Communication Network (NCN).

The decision was handed down on Thursday, a day after a government minister walked into the NCN studios and instructed an announcer to discontinue playing Lester ‘De Professor’ Charles’ winning calypso. Here are some of the lyrics:  

Guyanese open your eyes
Guyanese like meh self, “yes” is time we get wise

Imagine we finance ministah auditor is he wife
Is like putting cat fe watch milk, how could that be right

Then Clem tek thirty eight million dalla and buy a ole wata
canan truck
And on de fus two outing it go pun instead it wuk de truck
jus bruk

But dis god don’t sleep, no he don’t sleep
In any develop country Clem balls woulda feel de heat
But he don’t sleep, Jehovah nah sleep,
One day de same bad seed dat dem sow is-dat dem gon reap

– From Lester ‘De Professor’ Charles’  – God Nah Sleep

Listen to the calypso: God Nah Sleep at the following link:

https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/mash-2013-the-professor-god-dont-sleep-winning-calypso/

 

Stabroek News was told that the announcer was asked whether anyone had listened to the lyrics of the song, “God Nah Sleep.”

While the announcer indicated to the minister that he was not in a position to remove anything from the airwaves and that contact should instead be made his superiors, on Thursday a decision was taken to remove all the calypsos from the airwaves.

Stabroek News understands that signs indicating the ban had been posted up around the NCN studios and since then no calypsos had been played.

“This is just really pettiness. I would understand if I had sung about one of the ministers, or their wives or families, you know, get personal, but it is nothing like that,” Charles yesterday told this newspaper, adding that the news of the ban deflated his happiness about winning the calypso monarch title for a third time.

Contacted yesterday, NCN’s acting Chief Executive Officer Michael Gordon declined to comment.

Meantime, Head of Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said he was unaware of the decision by NCN to ban the calypsos, but he noted that the judges in the calypso competition were given criteria and these were breached.

He was speaking at the Office of the President during his weekly press conference yesterday.

“What I am aware of is that a rendition was interrupted and [I] subsequently mounted an inquiry to find out what exactly has happened and I am getting information from my colleague ministers about the sequence of events that took place that interrupted that rendition,” he said.

“I haven’t heard any one of them [the calypsos]. I am merely dealing with hearsay. I was told that my presentation was the subject of one of the renditions and it was unfavourably done. But I must admit I haven’t heard it,” he said.

He said Cabinet reposes “quite a bit of confidence in the judges. There is a code that is given to all of the calypsonians to which one would expect them to adhere. The judges are there to ensure that adherence takes place. It would be insidious of me to second-guess the judges, who apparently allowed these renditions to become part of the calypso competition and the one [to which you are referring] might be that of the calypso monarch,” he said.

However, a source questioned this new move in the light of the fact that NCN had received a consent letter from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport to play all of the finalists’ songs—except for Roger ‘Young Bill Rogers’ Hinds’ since he had not submitted his song–and this was done. The source said NCN was encouraged to give all the songs equal airtime in an effort to build momentum for the competition.

‘Thin-skinned’

Charles told Stabroek News yesterday that he was not sure what action he could take since he is new to the business and he would have to contact other calypsonians and a decision would be made as to the next step.

The three-time monarch said he felt “really terrible” about the ban, especially since it appeared as if his song had caused the other singers to suffer.

“It goes to show that the government is very thin-skinned because it is just social commentary, there was no disrespect,” Charles said.

“Calypso is a brand of music that makes you laugh. It is social commentary. I feel real terrible that something like that had to happen,” he added, likening the genre of music to newspapers, the Link Show or the Uncensored comedy show, all of which he said simply articulated what the masses are afraid to say. He said he was asked many by persons if he was not afraid to sing such songs and even his father has expressed fear for his wellbeing.

He admitted that he was also “very much concerned about my safety, knowing how things are in this country when you speak about anything.”

Charles has been singing calypso since 1995 and while reggae is his first love, he switched to calypso because “at least there is a competition every year but with reggae there is nothing.”

The man said while the government can ban him and others from the airwaves, ministers can use the same radio to say whatever they please, even though it is state owned and belongs to all Guyanese.

“I am not political. I am not for opposition. I am a Rasta and I am just singing,” the man declared.

He highlighted that one day he was listening to a minister on the air likening the behaviour of the opposition to “yard fowl or schoolyard and right away I get lyrics for a new song. Not to defend the opposition, but to talk about how we have illiterate people running this country; because he is saying that a schoolyard, which is for children, has nothing good and that there is something wrong with a fowl pecking for food.”

“How illiterate is that?” Charles questioned.

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