NAME: Maxwell DaGama
OCCUPATION: Expert Web and Data Analytics
WHEN AND WHERE WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU TOOK PART IN CARNIVAL?
The very first carnival I did was in Guadeloupe in 2011. I was a masquerader.
WHICH BAND DID YOU PLAY WITH?
I played with a huge band named AKIYO (pronounce it « Ah-Key-yo »). Click here for examples of the band.
DESCRIBE YOUR COSTUME IF YOU CAN REMEMBER?
My costume was a pair of overalls made from a (clean) trash bag with cardboard boxes stuck on to it. I cut the bag in hundreds of strips and coloured them like a rainbow. This costume was a statement about waste and climate change.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE TUNE THAT CARNIVAL?
My favourite tune was Mwa bout' (say Mwah boot = End of the month) from Akiyo. A meaningful song that deals with making ends meet even though it is not even the end of the month. In the Caribbean, we may look like happy people, but many of us are in deep poverty and choose not to eat in order to send our children to school in Europe.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF THIS DAY?
Unity, solidarity, ancestry, joy and confidence. Those feelings are the first things I remember about this day. We were a big group that started our long walk from 6.30 pm to 1.30 am, with kids in the front, followed by our elders, then the teenagers and the adults playing the drums, calabash shakers and other instruments… all in a trance.
HAVE YOU BEEN BACK TO THIS PARTICULAR CARNIVAL?
I went back to Guadeloupe 5 years ago. It is important for me to reconnect to the vibes and the local culture.
IS THIS YOUR FAVOURITE CARNIVAL? IF NOT, WHICH IS AND TELL US WHY.
It is by far my favourite carnival because it means a lot to me as it relates to my roots. It is also my favourite one because it says a lot about us, the local people.
ANY CARNIVALS ON YOUR AGENDA FOR 2020?
For 2020, I’ve already planned to go to Berlin, Rotterdam and Notting Hill carnival. I’m already in the starting blocks.
DO YOU HAVE ONE PARTICULAR CARNIVAL YOU’RE STILL DREAMING TO ATTEND ONE DAY?
The Rio Carnival. Nothing for me is better than that. It would be an accomplishment! I do not want to simply gather the money and go there as a viewer. I want to fully soak in it. It requires mostly passion and dedication to the culture to be in the samba vibe.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE MEN WHO ARE SCARED TO WEAR A COSTUME?
Wearing a costume is really something important and it is the ultimate way to enjoy carnivals. But no pressure, wait until you’re ready. Even if it is a simple costume, with it, you will lead with joy, give confidence to others and wear the handcrafted work of somebody on your shoulders. First things first, come to the carnival to have fun and share the pleasure and respect with everybody. Then, you’ll see that carnival is not only music, fete and women; it is a way of thinking and feeling, wearing a costume is part of that. It took me time, then once I did it, the fêtes have never been the same. I felt free and powerful and it was my time to shine. Join us!
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