Vulgar Fraction pays homage to NUFF for Carnival 2023
Vulgar Fraction, the Mas Band created and directed by designer Robert Young of The Cloth, will represent the “National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF)” for Mardi Gras 2023.
The presentation takes its name from the guerrilla group T&T, which organized an armed revolutionary campaign in the 1970s until it was violently crushed by police. The presentation attempts to provoke action against T&T’s apathy and helplessness in the face of the country’s environmental crisis.
Young will launch the 2023 band today, February 2nd at 6pm at Propaganda Space, Erthig Road, Belmont, site of The Cloth workshop.
It kicks off with a panel discussion on NUFF and T&T’s historic response to our current environmental crisis.
NUFF founder Malcolm “Jai” Kernahan, indigenous Trinidadian writer and filmmaker Tracy Assing and environmental advocate Rueanna Haynes will be members of the panel, moderated by Ardene Sirjoo.
The band’s costumes are based on CEPEP workers’ overalls, with twigs taking the place of the workers’ emblematic weed killers.
“Just as the working class and the poor were the ones who took up arms against the government in 70, so it is the workers, people who grew up in poverty, who will respond to the next crisis – the environmental crisis,” he told Jung.
He drew a direct line between environmental degradation and colonialism, one of the reasons the Vulgar Fraction Freedom Farmers will wear green, black and red overalls, the colors of anti-colonial pan-African liberation.
The symbolic weed killers in the hands of the Mas players will be wands or recovery weapons, “of bush and medicinal herbs”.
Their masks will sport screens imprinted with the faces of murdered 17-year-old NUFF member Beverly Jones and Guy Harewood, a member of the leadership. Both were shot by the police in 1973, 50 years ago.
Police killed 18 NUFF members who had attacked police stations, banks and other targets in 1972-1973. Hunted by the Williams government, NUFF members fled into the bush.
Malcolm Kernahan’s upcoming Sene Press memoir, Is Anybody There? remembers his experiences at the time.
Young said that colonialism promotes “exploitation without a conscience” and the destruction and exploitation of anything seen as part of the natural world.
“Nature” includes women, people of color, plants, animals, and the earth itself—and colonialism and capitalism were therefore given permission to ruthlessly exploit and plunder these elements.
Whites, the de facto racial identity associated with such exploitation, are equated with progress and civilization, he said.
NUFF and the February 1970 revolution from which NUFF evolved represented an “attempt by black people to say, ‘We want to be seen and treated as human beings.'”
The government’s ongoing series of unemployment assistance programs such as DEWD, LID, URP, and CEPEP (formally the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program) were intended to pacify the poor and prevent people from taking up arms and going into the bush, as NUFF does did. said Young. NUFF “expected society to join them,” he said, but instead they were isolated and killed.
Young compared her condition to the situation of today’s environmental activists, left hanging by an apathetic public so overwhelmed by massive environmental destruction that they are doing nothing instead of taking action.
“We’re not even angry. We bury our grief. It’s too much to think about,” Young said. Psychologist Waveney Richards will join the panel to discuss this apathy.
Egbe Omo Oni Isese’s drummers will lead a procession after the panel discussion.