‘All ah we know the man’
(By Mondale Smith)
Geoffrey Phillips, aka ‘the Mighty Rebel’ had stayed out of the National Calypso competition last year for what he dubbed “my own reasons” but calypso lovers are guaranteed to see him in top form when he takes on 24 others in the 2010 competition. The semi-finals are carded for Blairmont on February 13 while the final is set for Thirst Park on February 21.
The veteran calypsonian said, “It’s my time again so I’m issuing warning to all competitors that while we are friends we need to compete vigorously to raise the standards and so if you want to beat me you have to come really high in all areas of the competition.”
His experience in the competition spans 31 years and this year his lyrical toll is a message that states “all ah we know de man”. It focuses on adults who prey on young men and mirrors a recent true to life story that made headlines in and out of Guyana.
The proud 65-year-old married father and grandfather said, “I promise calypso fans that they will be able to relate to my song from the beginning to the end and they will be talking about it in time to come because it is a reality in our society”.
He last won the monarchy in 2007 with “Is we put you deh”- a social commentary that spoke to President Bharrat Jagdeo reminding him of the need to remember who he is serving and why he is serving as president.
“It reminded him of the people who re-elected him and his responsibility to them,” he reflected.
Prior, he had won the monarchy four other times with songs such as “Second Hand man” in 1988 which was his way of protesting the judges’ decisions that placed him second for seven straight years from 1980.
The other time he won was with “Dessey yah wrong” in 1993 which chastised former President Desmond Hoyte for being too much of an honest politician, something that caused him the presidency.
His next win came when he sang of “Political lies” which chastised late President Cheddi Jagan for a statement in Canada that placed “black people at the bottom of the ladder.”
He again took a swipe at another president, this time President Bharrat Jagdeo with “Ask the President” in 2001 which pointed to the many ills of Government dealings such as the wharf that floated away at charity.
He only placed third once but has always made it to the top ten in the competition.
Save for Lord Canary he is probably the longest-serving contributor to the Calypso contest.
In 2008 he unfortunately only made the top ten and made the decision to opt out of the 2009 competition.
“I’m back because the public was some what disappointed that I had opted out and since then a day scarcely goes by without someone stopping me to say the competition lacks an ingredient without me…they must know what they saying and so I’m here first for the fans. But personally I want to ensure that the art form is kept alive so I have to compete and be part of the only forum through which I can make a meaningful contribution.”
The interim president of the Guyana National Calypso association said that the association was dormant for a number of years but he is working to bring it back on stream with a vibrant working committee.
“I want people to understand that while I sing about the presidents I’ve never disrespected them. I just sing truths that serve as a wakeup call that people are watching them and that they need to remember that the Democratic constitution allows for a President of the people, by the people, for the people… not SOME PEOPLE!” Rebel said.
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