A call has been made for tassa to be part of Tobago Carnival celebrations in 2023.
The call came from Wendell Eversley, Vice President of the Tassa Association of T&T. at the time, Eversley was addressing the 2022 National Tassarama Prize-Giving Function at the auditorium of the Couva/Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce (CPLCC) administrative complex, at Camden Road in Couva, on Tuesday night.
Eversley said he was disappointed that tassa was left out when the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) staged Tobago Carnival in October. He said he was in Tobago for the recent celebrations only to see tassa being excluded.
“I see what took place on the Saturday for the J'ouvert,” Eversley said. “I see what took place on the Sunday for the Parade of the Bands and I felt hurt, when I know that the tassa wasn’t included as part and parcel of it."
Wendell Eversley, Vice President of the Tassa Association of Trinidad and Tobago, at the 2022 National Tassarama Prize-Giving Function, on Tuesday 22 November 2022. [Image by SHASTRI BOODAN]
Eversely said he would be pleading with the THA Chief Secretary, as well as the Secretary for Culture and Tourism in Tobago, to ensure that tassa finds its rightful place in the Tobago celebrations
The Tassa Association Vice President reminded the gathering of the role played by tassa in binging victory to the Renegades Steel Orchestra at Panorama. Eversely said he experienced euphoria when Renegades fused the steelpan with the tassa rhythms to take victory.
Manager of FCBs Couva branch, Neena Gadraj (left), Operations Officer Gail Balkaram, and Tassa Association President Vijay Ramlal-Rai, present the second prize for the 2022 National Tassarama to the Chatak Shooting Stars Tassa Band Akash Daniel (fourth from left), Fayad Mohammed and Nicholas Mohammed. [Image by SHASTRI BOODAN]
"The rhythm of the tassa and the blend with the steelpan was something amazing,” he recalled.
Eversely said the Tassa is yet to get its just recognition, despite the role it has played in the development of T&T culture.
“I see all governments in T&T—from Eric Williams to this present PM—use the tassa instrument at all their functions,” he noted, “but when it's time for respect for the tassa, all I see is a lot of disrespect. We have to go begging to the Ministry of Culture.”
Manager of FCB Couva Neena Gadraj (left), and Operations Officer at FCB Gail Balkaram, present the third prize in the 2022 National Tassarama to members of the FCB Dragon Boys Nankissoor Rampartap (third from left), Adesh Rampartap and Ramlal Rampartap. [Image by SHASTRI BOODAN]
Vijay Ramlal-Rai, the head of the Association, said the tassa is used extensively throughout the year on every occasion. He said in 2023, the Junior Tassarama Competition would take place during Carnival. He said the Tassa Association has made several calls to have tassa declared the second national instrument because it was developed locally.
Meanwhile, President of the CPLCC, Mukesh Ramsingh, said he would like to see an international tassa competition take place. He said tassa may be a hobby for some of its players, but it is also an income generator that can be expanded upon.
Ramsingh said further development of the tassa artform would only serve to enrich players and Trinidad and Tobago.
Sajeeda Mungalsingh (left), presents the fourth prize in the 2022 National Tassarama to members of the Tri Star Tassa Band Christian Hackett, Govinda Bhaggan, Ameer Balkaran and Shivanand Balroop. [Image by SHASTRI BOODAN]
1st – Charlie Boys Tassa Band
2nd – Chatak Shooting Stars Tassa Band
3rd – FCB Dragon Boys Tassa Band
4th – Tri Star Tassa Band
5th – Felicity Back Road Tassa Band
People’s Choice – Chatak Shooting Stars Tassa Band
Sajeeda Mungalsingh (left), presents the fifth prize in the 2022 National Tassarama to members of the Felicity Back Road Boys Tassa Band Asif Ali, Ameer Ali, Sarvan Ramoutar and Saif Ali. [Image by SHASTRI BOODAN]
Best Cutter – Lakiram Bhagan
Best Bass – Hermant Nanan
Best Jhaal – Nicholas Mohammed
Best Folay – Rajendra Ramlogan
Best Sounding Bass – Shane Bhola
Best Sounding Tassa Drum – Sanjay Soochit
Best Cultural Depiction – FCB Dragon Boys
Most Outstanding Player – Shivana Sookoo
Most Entertaining Player – Nankissoor Rampartap
Most Promising Tassa Band – Stallion Young Stars
Most Dramatic Band – FCB Dragon Boys
Most Disciplined Band – Valley Line Tassa Band