Playin' Mas, Play and Mas | A Pedagogical Journey of Children in Caribana

The Kenn Shah Fonds

Kenn Shah Fonds

In 2014 the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas gratefully accepted  Kenneth Neamath Shah's personal photos, meeting minutes, design sketches, film reels, newspaper clippings, pamhlets and ephemera related to Caribana.  Over 20 boxes of material are housed at the Tubman Institute. 
Shah was mas band leader, carnival artist and founding member of Caribana. He passed away unexpectedly in May 2002. When asked why Kenn's  vast collection was deposited at Tubman as opposed to other institutions, Haroun Shah, Kenn's younger brother, replied, "Several universities in the UK knew about the archives through presentations I had given and several wanted it. Kenn['s] was a Canadian and loved Toronto and talked continuously about Car[a]bana – even when I spent time with him in hospital the day before he passed away. Its natural home just had to be in Toronto and with such a fruitful collaboration with Christopher, its transfer to York and the Tubman was inevitable."

Kenn Shah's love for Caribana

"[During Caribana Kenn] was openly emotional and the happiest person on the planet; he danced and intermingled with his family and friends as the band was propelled towards its destination by the exploding sounds of the Caribbean. Kenn was never concerned about winning the event but more about being there to foster the development of Caribana and ensuring that all were having a great time. He was the only carnival leader to have annually produced a Canadian Government Carnival Band for the Caribana parade. Kenn viewed the government’s involvement as strong endorsement of this art form and, frequently talked to the Press about how excited he was to see Caribana gradually being embedded into the main stream arts and culture of Canada."

                                                 -An excerpt from a brief biography on Kenn Shah written by his siblings. 

‚ÄčListen here for Kenn's own perspective on his love for and commitment to Caribana. See photos below of Kenn during Caribana in the early 1970s.

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