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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Gypsy to make stick fighting a sport

Stick fighter Moses Ralf, left, shows his skills
as he attacks Henderson Marcano in the gayelle.
  Unable to resist an extempo challenge, Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters clenched the microphone to the delight of a crowd gathered at Kings Wharf, San Fernando on Friday night. Firing back witty responses to calypsonian Neil “Abelele” Baptiste’s lyrics, Peters stole the spotlight, if just for a few minutes, at the Small Money and Associates Carnival Band launch.
Peters made an impromptu visit to the event after officially attending the launch of the national stick fighting competition held within sight of the band launch. In an interview in the gayelle (stick fighting ring), Peters said he wants to develop the artform into a real sport. Peters said, “Stick fighting is something that is dear to my heart.  I was raised on stick fighting, raised in the gayelle. I will like to see stick fighting as a real sport where people would have gears and stuff and take it to the next level.”
Although the artform seems to be dying, he said the number of young people seen at the event indicates that it might be resuscitating.  “We must not let these artforms die,” he added. Despite criticisms regarding his decision to create a People’s Band this year, he said, “The People’s band will be the biggest band for Carnival. The People’s band will have stick fighting.  Stick fighters everywhere come into the People’s band!”
The minister said he wished there could be more creativity in Carnival costumes instead of the usual bikinis and beads. “You cannot distinguish between a Trinidadian band and a Brazilian band.  I wish they would become more creative and play the mas that we know to play.  Let us go back to portrayals,” he said.  Businessman Steve Grant, who has been promoting the artform for the past 30 years, agreed it was dying.  However, he said they were in the process of trying to revitalise it.  He said competitions would be held every Friday and Saturday until Carnival Tuesday.  Several people, young and old, had gathered around the gayelle to see the stick fighters in action.

Sascha Wilson


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