Written by 7:49 pm Music

An encyclopaedia gone in a snap


Shaun Rambaran: “Dancing sticks (stilts) and photographing moko jumbies fanned the fires of my passion for traditional mas and the masmakers.” – Mark Lyndersay


My name is Shaun Rambaran and I’m attempting to take enough photographs of Trinbago that
something survives for future historians to recollect.

Now I’m in Cobotown, but since my adolescence there, something about St James all the time looks like home. My mom living there again adds to that feeling.P

Cobotown was once the ort of Spain coastline before many late-1800s land-reclamation projects. I’m hoping climate change doesn’t allow the ocean to “reclaim” it right back!

We lived opposite the St James Police Barracks. Hosay and Carnival traipsed right outside our gate!

My aunts would deposit “the chirren” by us. And my cousins would stay over and we’d play all Carnival weekend, running out to maco when a music truck got here blasting and shaking up the entire house.

My immediate family may be very small: mom, sister, brother-in-law and nieces make up my closest peoples.

Seeing the lives of close friends whose “chirren” are growing up into cool new little humans, I’m open to the concept of a family of my very own now. Perhaps.

I actually have to determine the story of my dad myself, so I don’t have much to say. I don’t think he’s a foul person. He and my mom just weren’t compatible. Once I was 11 or so, he moved into the bush. And Mom took on working by day and sewing by night to make ends meet for my sis and me. Good single parents are absolute heroes!

I spent my childhood and adolescence in books. Mostly non-fiction, encyclopaedia, and, truthfully, I did read the dictionary.

I also really love old magazines, just like the ones within the doctor’s office where my mom worked. National Geographic, with its beautiful photographs, Reader’s Digest, home-maker mags, and the cool medical pamphlets.

Pity there wasn’t more local content. I’d like to get my hands on a set of the longtime Trinidad Carnival magazines with Roy Boyke’s photographs.

I’d gone to Newtown Boys, then Fatima College, but I never really got together with the Fatima folks.

I wasn’t into cars and football, didn’t take heed to the favored music of my generation, didn’t go liming, didn’t have stories of flexing on girls. Although most of their stories were (probably) made up.

I wasn’t religious. I preferred to read and draw than socialise. After sixth form, I met Diego Sec individuals who became actual, lifelong friends. So now I openly lie and tell people I went Diego Sec.

I used to be raised RC, but around age 14, I ended believing.

Why should one religion be right and the others unsuitable? Burning in hell in pain, suffering and torture, immolated skin, deathlessly for all of eternity? Purely by the prospect to be born into the unsuitable faith?

But I definitely don’t disrespect other people’s religions or gods. It’s all culture, and it’s all fascinating.

On this tiny island, we get to experience a lot of the world through the numerous heritages of our people. Living in Trinidad is its own encyclopaedia!

Throughout the pandemic, my friend Catherine Sforza and I dedicated Thursday as reading and research days on the Nalis Heritage Library, poring through old magazines, books, articles and accounts of longtime Carnival.

Favourite reads include Terrence Farrell’s We Like It So? (Please, all Trinis read this book!) Paul Keens Douglas’ Twice Upon a Time, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Douglas Adams’ A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And The Carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago, from Inception to 12 months 2000. I actually have massive, massive respect to Michael Anthony for pulling that off. It should have taken him years – many years, even.

“My life’s project began because Terrence Farrell identified the way in which our “lack of ownership of the space” and our feelings and attitudes about ourselves and our space brings about our under-achievement as a society.,” says Shaun Rambaran. – Mark Lyndersay

Man, how can one live without music?

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, before work, Catherine and I dance sticks (ie, stilts) in my yard.

On Sundays, we enterprise into the road, either doing distance-walking through Woodbrook or heading to Victoria Square to bop sticks and practise some salsa moves.

My favourite movie might be Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, starring Shah Rukh Khan.

Alfred Hitchcock really was sensible.

Caribbean directors – Shari Petti, Maya Cozier, Sonja Dumas, Tracy Farrag, the MacFarlanes, Banyan – and tonnes more.

I didn’t all the time love mas, because I didn’t understand it. I just thought it was loud partying. And I suppose Carnival is nothing but a fete to plenty folks.

Lately, it’s a central a part of my most fun work. It’s sad to see traditional mas as a shadow of its true self. It’s what mas was meant to be.

Our local ancestors of this pair of islands, not only Grandmother India, Grandmother China, Grandmother Africa, but this here Mother Trinbago, our people have done a lot and worked so hard.

And we forget them. We take as a right all of the work and sacrifice they’ve bled here for us. We forget ourselves. We bury ourselves in screens and endlessly scroll.

What cheers me up is popping my phone off. And turning good music on.

I’m anxious that we’ll lose one in all our most precious features – that we aren’t merely a “multicultural” but moderately an “intercultural” people – through embodying the tedious bickering of US identity politics.

Those toxic ideas divide while posing as unity.

I’m anxious we are going to proceed to burn (literally) our archives, furthering our sprint to forget who we’re. I’m anxious that once I die, my photographs and photographs won’t survive for future Trinis to choose through and ponder about.

Joshua Lue Chee Kong and Kriston Chen founded 1000mokos/Sticks in de Yard at Alice Yard in 2016.

Dancing Sticks (stilts) and photographing moko jumbies fanned the fires of my passion for traditional mas and the mas makers.

My life’s project began because Terrence Farrell identified the way in which our “lack of ownership of the space” and our feelings and attitudes about ourselves and our space brings about our under-achievement as a society.

We still don’t feel like Trinbago is ours and thus don’t act it out, on the deep ways of investment and trading up for our descendants’ future.

I disagreed with Farrell’s solution of waiting on the elites of society to place things right in a trickle-down manner. We’d be waiting for Godot.

After a lot difficulty and annoyance finding very old images of Trinbago and mas, my secondary aim is to document for future historians our current lives in as truthful a way I can.

I actually have two primary individuals helping me. Maleika Esther Attawel helps manage my social media and edit my footage. Catherine Sforza, aka The Catalyst, creates opportunities for me to satisfy and interview people, photograph places, and show my work.

The very best thing about my Method Moda project, other than making great photographs, is the exploration.

Trinidad is such a ravishing and interesting place, and so lots of us live our whole lives in only tiny corners. You’re driving along some rough road surrounded by bush on all sides, you go around the bend and bump into some massive temple!

One early morning, photographing a temple, Catherine and I got invited inside by the pundit’s son for dhal and rice.

A Trini to me is a Trinbagonian, someone from either of the islands.

I don’t think one must be born here to be of here. Trinis without ID cards became Trini via becoming truthfully and deeply embedded within the culture. De facto Trinis.

Are so-called Westmoorings Trinis any less Trini? Or is that just one other sub-culture? Town Trinis? People from the country?

These are all just flavours of Trinbagonian, for my part, and we want to start out acting it, caring about what happens in every of our communities. Or we are going to collectively sink.

To me, Trinidad and Tobago means home and a chance to display to the world what a various people could be. After we love, take care of and respect one another and take real interest within the lives of one another.

(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)