Why we all love Karene Asche & Kizzie Ruiz: The Calypso Queens that Mock Warner
By Andrew Jennings
Saturday March 18, 2011
FIFA kleptomaniac Jack Warner has suffered another well-deserved blow to his image at home. Two brilliant calypsos satirising Warner’s crimes against Trinidad’s footballers, his racism and the foolishness of giving him a government post where he can award public contracts have won the country’s top prize at the 2011 Carnival.
Karene Asche danced across the stage at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, beating ten other contestants to win the $2 million prize and the title of 2011 ‘Calypso Monarch’ with her energetic performance of ‘Uncle Jack.’
During her performance Karene taunted a costumed figure representing Warner. Half-way through ‘Uncle Jack’ another actor, holding a microphone and dressed to look like BBC TV reporter (yes, you guessed!) Andrew Jennings, chased Warner around the stage.
Warner cheats players
The Savannah rang with cheers as the ‘reporter’ chased the FIFA vice-president around the stage asking about his World Cup ticket rackets and why he cheats Trinidad’s 2006 World Cup team the Soca Warriors out of millions of dollars.
Videos of these BBC confrontations have attracted tens of thousands of viewers on YouTube.
A Trinidad court has just forced Warner and his associates at the Trinidad football federation to hand over an interim US$1 million. They will likely have to hand over another $40 million to settle the case. It’s become a big issue in Trinidad – but not at FIFA where Warner is encouraged to get away with any racket he wants.
Near the finale of Karene’s performance the ‘Warner’ figure walked to the front of the stage waving a sign decorated with the capital letters ‘HNIC.’
The ‘HNIC’ sign was a jolting reminder to Trinidadians of Warner’s grotesque comment during a Cabinet meeting soon after the UNC party, funded by Warner, won power in last year’s elections.
In that meeting Warner referred to himself proudly as the ‘HNIC’ – which he explained later stands for ‘Head Nigger in Charge.’ Sadly, Warner appears ignorant of the true meaning of ‘HNIC.’
Warner the slave master
The great African-American novelist Ralph Ellison defined HNIC as the ‘lone black person whom whites have invested with voice and authority; the king of darkies.’ This might reflect Warner’s role as the man who delivers Caribbean votes at FIFA and makes the region safe for FIFA’s global-brand sponsors.
The Rev. Charles Stith, a former US ambassador to Tanzania, once said that in its original context this phase was used to describe ‘the slave placed in charge of other slaves.’
The political message behind the second calypso ‘Careful what you ask for’ that clinched the Calypso Monarch title for Karene Asche, was explained to me by one of her friends. ‘It starts as a commentary on how gullible young people might choose the wrong partners in love, then switches to applying this analogy to the politics in our country today.
Chagrin and disappointment
‘We went to the polls last year and the People’s National Movement (PNM) was voted out and the new government was formed by the United National Congress (UNC) of which Uncle Jack is Chairman - to many persons' chagrin and disappointment. We sought to capture this early disappointment in this calypso. The parallel between young gullible love and cruel politics is self explanatory.’
Five years ago another calypso lyricist was eerily accurate, predicting at the Trinidad Carnival in February 2006 that the Warriors team that had qualified for the World Cup finals would be ripped off by the Warner family.
This calypso – ‘Germany’ - was performed by Kizzie Ruiz and in the third verse there’s a reminder of Jack Warner’s earlier ticket rackets – he sold 10,000 more than the stadium could hold - at Trinidad’s World Cup qualifying match at home against the USA in 1989.
It got worse: FIFA officials were desperate for the USA to win and go forward to play in Italia ’90 – otherwise it was going to be much harder to promote the next World Cup in America 1994. Many fans found it hard to accept some decisions by officials that led to the defeat of the Trinidad team on that Good Friday.
After more jibes at Warner and his political associates the song winds up with the warning,
De tickets will sell in batches,
But watch the man by the till,
That man is, of course, Jack Warner.
It concludes with an accurate forecast of what the Warner family were about to inflict on the national team. Kizzie Ruiz sang,
I only hope the poor players,
don’t end up in a ditch,
With de fat cats getting fatter,
and the rich even more rich,
On de road to . . . Germany!