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Dotun-Adebayo
The fight for carnival

DANGER: If scenes like this develop at this year’s carnival, the historic event could disappear forever

I predicted that we would pay the price for the riots.

The racist comments from the discredited historian David Starkey that Jamaican patois is to blame for white kids burning property and looting was the first salvo of fire in our direction.

This man, whose books our children are forced to read at school, gets away with saying “Enoch was right..." when no-one else in such a position has been able to utter such drivel for over 40 years.

And here comes the second salvo...

The Notting Hill Carnival, it seems, is under threat. Despite some doubt it would go ahead, the event will take place but with major changes such as starting at 9 am and finishing at 7 pm to minimise the chances of trouble.

You've got to feel for carnival director Chris Boothman (when is he going to become Sir Chris Boothman, Your Majesty?)

If anything goes wrong, it is he and his co-director who will be held personally responsible. It's a dilemma I wouldn't want to put anyone through. And all the king's horses and all the king's men, let alone Boothman's training as a barrister, won't be able to put carnival back together again if ANYTHING goes wrong.

I don't need to tell you the headlines if there is the least bit of disturbance at carnival.

You can imagine the images that will be on the front pages of the newspapers the next morning. You know which clips they'll be showing on SKY and BBC News all night long. It won't be of me and my daughters biting our way through a stalk of sugar cane as we skank to the Jah Observer sound system, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. And Boothman will be dragged through the muddy streets and flogged and pilloried for taking the ultimate decision to allow the carnival to take place despite the recent riots.


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But before you all say, ‘if I was in his shoes I'd scrap the carnival and done’, beause of all the changes that Boothman and his fellow organisers have been forced to make, consider the consequences of THAT decision.
How on earth are any number of police going to stop people descending on the carnival area? And what is going to happen when all the disrespectful youths and their pitbull terriers suddenly realise that their show is cancelled, the plug has been pulled on their favourite sound systems and there is nobody around for their pitbulls to terrorise? There'll be a riot, you mark my words. And you know who they'll drag through the streets caked in mud and flogged and pilloried if there's a riot because the carnival was cancelled? Yes, you've guessed it, Barrister Boothman, m'lud.

DILEMMA

You see the barrister's dilemma? Boothman is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Or as the yanks say, he's caught between a rock and a hard stone.

Or as the Jamaicans say he's trapped between a batty and a bench.

Frankly, no man should have to choose between his wife and his sweetheart. But if we don't ensure that this carnival is the sweetest, smoothest, friendliest and most crime-free carnival ever, we will lose this great festivity forever and with it we will lose one of the great contributions that our parents made to this country as well as all the history and relevance that goes with it. It's in our power. We know what to do.

We need to do exactly what the Turkish community in Hackney did when they saw rioters heading in the direction of their shops. They stood as one with their clubs and baseball bats to protect what they cherished. We don't need the clubs and baseball bats - the cops are bringing those to carnival. But we do need to stand up strong and face the wotless youths who couldn't care less about what we cherish and will happily mash up everything for all of us, so long as they can take a picture of them mashing everything up to post on Facebook. And as a result, they appear on Crimewatch.

Trust me, if we so much as fart at this year’s carnival, it's over. You can see the headlines now “BROKEN WIND (OH!) AT CARNIVAL - 400 ARRESTED! And you know who will be dragged through the streets covered in mud when the air has finally cleared? Yes, you've guessed it, our barrister at law.

If there was ever a time to stand up and be black (and, yes, I'm including you white folks too, just to spite David Starkey), the time is now. We need the Nation of Islam to patrol carnival looking suitably menacing in their suits and dark glasses Minister Hilary Muhammad do you hear me?)

We need the good brothers and sisters of the Alkebu-Lan Revivalist Movement to come out in force and stand strong to ensure that our carnival is not destroyed (do you hear me Brother Leader Mbandaka?). We need the rastas of all denominations -Twelve Tribes, Orthodox and otherwise to take a stand. And we need our Christian brothers and sisters to help police the carnival.

And most importantly, it's about you.

Every one of you must take a stand and ensure that the carnival is not wrecked in your name.

I know that many of you may not even care about carnival.

But this time it's about much more than that.

This time it's about making sure that what our parents built is not destroyed by our children, and that we don't leave it to one man to take the blame when the doo-doo hits the fan.

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