Recognising the language of Calypso as 'symbolic action' in resolving conflict in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
The Calypso, which forms an integral part of the carnival celebrations of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a syncretic popular art-form, having its origin in Africa. This art-form, having been influenced and adapted by the experiences of enslaved Africans in the Diaspora, has been fused in the vortex of plantation society. Today, the music of Carnival has evolved considerably, so that the Calypso has become one of the cornerstones of the Carnival celebration, being significantly influenced by this Carnivalesque tradition. This work looks at those Calypsos that offer commentary on the socio-political and economic issues in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Trinbago), recognising them as bedded in a popular practice of ritual resistance. It shows how, through the medium of the Calypso, the skilful Calypsonian, using verbal creativity, freely comments on aspects of Trinbago's everyday life, exposing scandals of politicians and the rich while recounting gossip, as they redress the powerful. This thesis argues that Calypsonians, using this localised language that is steeped in colloquialisms, to sing on the prevailing socio-political and economic ills within Trinbago, function as liminal-servants in an Indigenous, Non-Formal, Community Conflict Management Mechanism. This monograph, draws on Kenneth Burke notion of "Language as Symbolic Action", to show how, through a dialectic process, these Calypsos attempt to raise the audience's consciousness, enabling them to consciously make decisions regarding the actions they may take, to resolve the perceived contradictions and/or oppositions within their society.