Calypso and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago 1996-1998

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Selwyn Ryan


Calypsonians had traditionally locked horns with political and social elites. In the past, "calypso wars" were waged with the colonial authorities and their social allies. In the period following independence, which was achieved in 1956, the "battles" were waged with the People's National Movement in general and its leader, Dr. Eric williams in particular. Between 1986 and 1991, the guns of the calypsonians were trained on the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) and its leader, ANR Robinson.

In November 1995, the United National Congress (UNC) came to power. It was the first time that Trinidad and Tobago had to deal with a government that was dominated by Indo-Trinidadians. The calypsonians, most of whom were Afro-Trinidadians, were now faced with the task of plying their craft without appearing to be racist in what they did. Looks at the debate that took place between the political calypsonians and their critics, both Indo-Trinidadian and Afro-Truinidadian, during the period 1996-1998 in an attempt to determine the extent to whidh they succeeded in this task.

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