Friday 23 August, 2019

A band with a story to tell: The Lost Tribe launches 'Anansi' for 2020

Mmoboro (Hornet) designed by JP Richardson for The Lost Tribe

Mmoboro (Hornet) designed by JP Richardson for The Lost Tribe

2019 was a monster year for The Lost Tribe, which won the National Carnival Commission’s Large Band of the Year title as well as the Downtown Carnival and Uptown Carnival Improvement Committee’s Band of the Year titles for their presentation ‘Taj’. 

The Lost Tribe takes to the stage again on Saturday night to unfold a new story, one closer to home and one that completes the trilogy of love stories that executive creative director Valmiki Maharaj set out to tell starting with ‘Seven’ in 2018. 

In 2020, The Lost Tribe’s theme is ‘Anansi’, focusing on love of family and love of tradition. 

For those of us who grew up in the Caribbean, Anansi was our Aesop’s Fables - the stories passed down to us from the generations before us that developed our concept of morality. 

Maharaj details the thought process that lead him to Anansi: “There just seems to be some connection in my mind between the telling of stories for the past three years, the idea of stories be connectors through our family lines, the ending of the trilogy of love - first year being heartbreak, the second year being grief and obsession, and this year being family love. And, of course, Anansi being the King of stories. So I just felt like it was the time was right for it. I also felt that there's something so powerful about Anansi being a defining moment or facet in saying how strong the ‘story’ is. That these stories could have come from Africa to the Caribbean, and lived through word of mouth. You had people prevented from practicing their own culture, and yet, through all of that it was still able to survive. It was that strong.” 

Mmoboro (Hornet) designed by JP Richardson for The Lost Tribe

The thematic choice aligned perfectly with the spirit of The Lost Tribe, a band that, since its debut in 2016 has strongly focused on narrative and storytelling in its presentation, and, because of this, has drawn into its fold a unique type of masquerader - one that immerses themselves in the story and shows up on Carnival Monday and Tuesday to play a character, no matter what that character might be. 

To prepare for Anansi, designers were encouraged to read the various Anansi stories and select a character that resonated with them either aesthetically or through that trait or characteristic the animal or character represents in the story. 

“So I told them, design-wise, identify with a character, or, personality-wise, identify with a character. So that's what most of them are, to the point that two of them are not even animals. We have one Sky God, one representing Humanity, and then the remaining nine are animals. And the way that we design them, yes they are animals, but the actual costume itself is inspired by different ritualistic costumes and different tribes across Western and Southern Africa,” Maharaj explained. 

Apart from Maharaj, designers for 2020 include Shawn Dhanraj, Ris Anne Martin, Keon Chow, Shandelle Loregnard, JP Richardson, Atiba Borde, Peter Elias, Shari Cumberbatch, Kriston Figaro and Naasir Mohammed. 

The design team this year remains mostly unchanged from the previous year’s complement, save for one new addition in the form of Figaro who Maharaj mentored during a Tribe design challenge in 2018 and decided to bring on to The Lost Tribe team for Anansi. 

This year, The Lost Tribe is also celebrating its fifth year of mas, and for Maharaj said he considers it a milestone, not a finish line.

“I am extremely excited. I feel extremely blessed. Five years ago seems like just yesterday. I feel like if the band has evolved a lot in a short space of time. We have seen growth both in terms of numbers and in terms of the design aesthetic. It really is in a very different place. I am looking forward to the next five years because if we could do this in five years, what can we achieve in another five years?”

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: