Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Calabash, oh Calabash! How we mourn your passing!

So Calabash done! For now, anyway. Don't know if the organizers (note the source I'd like to hear from!) will ever tell us the whole story, but money seems to have been a part of it, as also Colin Channer's departure from the core team. Whatever the causes, it's a big loss. I never made it to read or to visit, though I was asked more than once, and I now feel that as a big and probably irreparable loss – in this world, anyway. Never mind. I believe all kinda amazing things await me after I die, and some retrospective Calabash visits will I hope be among them.

So the first thing is to say thanks for the vision and energy of Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell, and all those who supported the Calabash effort over time. Here isn't the place to say why it was so important, because it was very important. It never make no argument but simply went about its business demonstrating truths like if you build it right, they will indeed come and keep coming, and the 'they' will be a most comprehensive and inclusive and various 'they,' a motley crew who will enjoy kulcha not as that, but as the simple thing kulcha is, which is song, music, story, skits, drawings and paintings and the like...

Anyhow, that account is not for me to write. Calabash was superb while it lasted, no doubt about that, and one is glad for the respects in which it is promised to continue. Its demise should make us think, though, about what we need to do to keep good things going, about how we approach building 'institutions' so they continue. And it ought to make us address hard truths, like that we should perhaps spend a little less money on frivolities (I have been alarmed to see such a one as Vera Wang feature as a designer worn by the well-heeled in the Observer's glamour pages!) and invest a bit more into, say, the Calabsh kitty. One-one cocoa fill basket...

Ridiculous? True, until Barack Obama used the Internet to capitalize on donations by the poorest American to help finance his way into the White House. Don't bother bring no facts and figures to show that the contributions of wealthy financiers and unions far outweighed these in size! The likl-likl donations added up, and with every donation came a commitment to the Obama cause. What's wrong with a Calabash Foundation that issues tax receipts for donations? Come to think of it, what's wrong with tax receipts for donations to worthy causes as a way to encourage grass roots mobilization?

Sadly I fear that we will prefer our expensive frocks and fancy parties, even the most educated and most thoughtful of us, who ought to know better. Why? Could it be that we are still the bruised, insecure, unresurrected children of the enslaved (new PC term!) who have decried 'white' people's ways and values as we have rushed to ape them, and who have stalwartly resisted putting our money and efforts where our mouths are?

Well, whoever that may be true of, it does not apply to Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes, Justine Henzell and the Calabash Crew. For that, let us give thanks!


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