The vocal disapproval of Fuad Khan’s condemnation of the lyrics in our local music is indicative of the collective hypocrisy of our people. We often like to crucify the messenger when the mirror is in our faces.
Dr Khan did not go far enough. I would not blame just the artistes who create the disturbing lyrical content, but also the masses who support them by making their music into hits, elevating these artistes economically and as role models for society. Artistes are merely singing what they know will sell, and sadly what sells is alcohol glorification, sexual innuendos and violence.
The most ridiculous of arguments against Dr Khan is that his pronouncements are racist. Why is it that race always seems to become an excuse whenever we need to reflect on ourselves?
A few years ago, many citizens, including myself, wrote and complained about the “rum song” culture in chutney music, and at no time did the question arise about race and ethnic division.
Then some persons hide behind freedom of expression to defend the lack of responsibility that comes with such a tremendous constitutional right. Several feminists in our intellectual circles may also come forward, citing the comments as oppressing our women, but ignorant that both men and women ought to carry themselves in a manner deserving of respect.
At a time when we are in the grip of criminals and violence, we have songs glorifying the sexual prowess of “gunmen.”
I recall in the recent past, we condemned an interpreter for the hearing impaired when she signed the lyrics to a popular local song correctly by pointing to the female genitalia. We will witness the lewdest of behaviour on the streets and in fetes over the coming days by men and women and will spend taxpayers’ dollars to promote it and call it culture. Then we will expect that we will respect each other and become role models for our youth.
Previously a significant controversy broke out when our pre-eminent soca star, Machel Montano, attempted to sing lines of a Hindu chant at a Carnival event. My reflection at that time chose to focus not on the lyrics but to ask instead, what is it about Carnival, or our behaviours that makes us feel uncomfortable about having such chants in those places?
After all, if what we are promoting in our Carnival music and culture ought to be encouraged, why should it become uncomfortable when we introduce it into everyday situations? The same principle applies here.
When the dust settles after Carnival Monday and Tuesday, we will flock to churches to repent our sins. Will the lyrics we currently promote and defend be appropriate for them as we line up?
Will our mode of dress and our behaviour on the streets be allowed in the churches and our schools. This is our litmus test. If we defend it now and feel uncomfortable about it later on, then it is we who are the hypocrites.