Jo Alexander - "You going carnival this year?" David - "No" Jo Alexander - "Carnival is a big part of our heritage you need to make sure you attend, to support the movement and keep it alive" David - Fake smiling yeah I will, inwardly rolling my eyes and knowing I had no intentions of going.
This is actually a real conversation that happened between me and Jo Alexander (I'll tell you more about her a bit later) and as clear as daylight my ignorance was on full show. Funny how times work out as here I am doing my part now to promote and keep the traditions of Carnival alive.
I use to attend Nottinghill Carnival when I was a child with my mother and during parts of my teens, though after this I went a long time without going. The birth of my daughter changed this as I wanted to give her an introduction to Caribbean culture and in all honesty, be the cooler parent in her eyes! I remember taking Elisha carnival one year and her running back to tell her mum I'd taken her to Jamaica! Love it!
The funny thing with my ulterior motive of using carnival to be the cool parent is that I grew to quickly really love carnival again! Don't get me wrong up to this day I still don't like the crowds, and the shoves that come from trying to squeeze through a seemingly clear space, though luckily I'm more than happy to shove back! (I digress)
But na, in all seriousness the vibes of Notting Hill carnival is special. It's like the minute you step from the platform of Westbourne park your senses are immediately flooded, seasoned chicken jerked in a jerk pan punches your nostrils. The sights of seeing carnival costumes that barely cover the modesty of costume wearers by using feathers, sparkles and colours like what you'd find in a rainbow give us revellers pure joy. And the roar from crowds dancing and swaying seemingly to the moon and back as they listen to sound systems as tall as buses, beat our eardrums into submission.
Without a doubt Carnival is special, so it was ever so surprising to me when having a zoom meeting with Carnival and Caribbean historian Jo Alexander as she explained the true meaning behind carnival as I realised I knew nothing at all. These true carriers of the tradition, arise with the sun on carnivals Sunday Mas. They cover themselves in mud, blue paint or black oil, as they let the past go in true abandon while celebrating their ancestors who have gone before them. I've barely touched the surface of what these rituals involve and their meanings, but the conversation with Jo was truly eye-opening.
So here's my part to you, if like me you find the deeper meaning of carnival interesting then why not join us this Saturday the 13th at Rhythm Kitchen from 2 to 5 pm as Jo will be telling us more histories behind the meanings of carnival and other Caribbean traditions. Also, this will be an audio-recorded podcast which we will use as part of our Dem Live A Foreign exhibition. So expect this to be a very fun afternoon as we won't just be discussing history, as we eat and drink and get merry we will also be discussing all the fun that comes from carnival so expect to hear stories of when we first got our wickedest whine at Carnival!
If you plan to attend this event then please send an email to email@example.com saying you'd like to attend so that we have an idea of the numbers.