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Franklyn Jagdeo dominatesJunior King, Queen Competition

Published: 
Sunday, February 11, 2018
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Workers at the Hott Stuff Promotions Mas Camp in Curepe. Photo by:Dion Roach

BOBIE-LEE DIXON ([email protected])

At their Mc Inroy Street, Curepe home, Hott Stuff Promotions bandleaders Navi and Franklyn Jagdeo brought on the celebrations as it was announced on Wednesday their presentations won the Junior King and Queen titles.

With 413 points. Junior King of Carnival 11-year-old Nikolai Jagdeo took first place with the portrayal Explosion of Our Cultures, while Junior Queen Jermiah Walters, also 11, scored 436 points gaining her the wining title with the presentation of Celebrations-Colours of Our People.

The Jagdeos further commanded the competition as band mates Justin Ramkalawan and Priya Nagassar took third place exhibiting the portrayals –Waters of T&T and Oil Spill.

In a Whatsapp video chat, Franklyn tells the T&T Guardian he was overcome with joy and was extremely proud of his king and queen for how they displayed the presentations.

The victory was even sweeter as this year Jagdeo said the costumes were built on a skeletal budget, so a lot of improvisions had to be made and inventiveness had to be on a whole other level.

Jagdeo’s innate creativity comes from God, whom he says inspires him. He has no formal training in mas making but this never fazed the 32-year-old decorator. In fact, since his involvement in children’s mas he has won several titles, maintained high scores and even took home Band of the Year title on one occasion.

It all started 18 years ago when Jagdeo, a bright-eyed, creative minded 14 year old decided he was going to take over the children’s mas band two of his aunts formerly ran.

His first king and queen were constructed while still attending the then El Dorado Secondary Comprehensive School.

When the T&T Guardian visited Jagdeo prior to the preliminaries and finals, the environment was anything but quiet as his family’s front yard was transformed into a mini mas camp with everyone doing last minute fastenings and sequencings. Jagdeo immediately noted, all the costumes were made by hand. He is ever so grateful for his family’s ‘all hands on deck’ approach each year, he told us.

His mother, Jenny Jagdeo, sits in on the interview and interjects saying from as little as eight years old he would always be creating things with his hands. “He would always find some way of decorating the gallery,” she recalls with a chuckle.

It is recognising his gift that she and her husband supported and encouraged their son. Smiling, Jagdeo remembers early portrayals like Out of Hawaii and I Dream of Jenie.

As early as November each year, Jagdeo along with his father can be seen in their yard building and assembling their proposed junior king and queen costumes which have always managed to make it into the finals since 2009. Their first Junior Carnival King and Queen win came in 2012 with the portrayals Platinum and Gold Rush.

Jagdeo, the artistic director, conceptualises each costume and his father works diligently building the frames to bring them to life. Together their end products have accumulated them several trophies, some of which were shown to the T&T Guardian.

But as elated as Jagdeo was, he does have some hang ups when it comes to the future of children’s mas and also how ‘no name’ mas bands are treated. Chronicling some of his experiences which he preferred to discuss off record, Jagdeo says even though he has proven himself a solid mas man he and his family band are often treated less than underdogs by stakeholders of carnival, despite the consistency of gaining high positions at the Junior Carnival King and Queen competition and churning out quality costumes.

Another issue that irks Jagdeo is the lack of investment in children’s mas. He said it is quickly becoming something of the past.

“I feel as though there isn’t any real commitment or investment in children’s mas anymore. It is very demotivating for young mas makers like myself because we get very little support, again, especially if we are ‘no name’ bands.”

He believes a lot more can be done by the Government and all carnival stakeholders to do a better job with children’s mas and the branding of T&T Carnival on a whole.

“We are not saying we want to be a ‘gimme gimme’ gang. But if the Government is going to spend money, why not spend it on what can give back to the nation, inspire young people and build the creative minds of T&T?"

He is perturbed by the $7.6 million allocated to rebuild a pool and pool deck at Hilton. And points out, this is no priority.

Jagdeo asks, “How can we be saying that that we have no money in the country and things are tight—yet we can fork out millions to build a pool? Why are we putting money where it does not aid in the development of our people and our national crafts? I mean who is this really going to benefit?”

He said as it is, some mas makers are struggling because the economic climate has influenced how people spend their money. So with no sponsorship for small community bands they are putting out more than what they gain.

With this reality, Jagdeo hinted for the first time in his career as a mas maker, he may not do any presentations for 2019.

“I don’t want to. At the moment I am doing this because I absolutely love it.”

The Jagdeos have even had to cut the cost of costumes to painfully low prices to meet the needs of their customers, who they say are also experiencing challenges with the state of the economy.

These issues are real and can dictate the immediate future of mas makers like Franklyn Jagdeo. But for now, he wants to remain basking in the glory of his moment, as the designer of the winning Junior King and Queen of Carnival 2018.

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