Music at the plantation and the meaning of Carnival
Estate life get to be too much for us. We couldn’t make any noise. Let me put it good: noise couldn’t be made within the hearing of the massa [plantation owner], for he would lick [punish] everybody, big and little.
Nega-house people could not make merry, make massa see or hear. We have to go far from the Buff to me our music for we dare not disturb massa.
We at Jonas use to make our music at an old tamarind tree, north of where Freeman’s Ville was. That use to be about a mile from Jonas. Now the people over at North Sound would make their music at the Old Pond, a mile or so away from where them live.
Quoted in K. Smith
In the recollection of his life in an Antiguan plantation at the beginning of the 20th century, Samuel Smith evokes how music was not to be played at the plantation.
All celebrations had to be taken outside, far away.
For Caribbean people, early carnival celebrations became a way of reclaiming music and reclaiming the streets where they lived.
It was a celebration of freedom, and it remains so, as of today.
Smith, K & Smith, F – To Shoot Hard Labour – The Life and Times of Samuel Smith, an Antiguan workingman