Have you ever wondered about the definition of the word “ramajay” and how it relates to the steelpan? If so, what is it?
And, should a foreigner ask the same question, how will you explain it?
Well, the late Amin Mohammed, co-founder of the Pan Ramajay Competition and leader of Exodus Steel Orchestra, the band which conceptualised and produced the contest, was called on to offer a single definition of the word during an interview 26 years ago. He was at pains to do so.
Back in 1994, Alvin Daniell, host of the television magazine programme titled Calypso Showcase on state-owned Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) asked Mohammed, “If a foreigner was to ask you what does ramajay mean and how does it relate to pan, what would you say?”
“That’s a hard one Alvin,” he replied. “You know there are some words that are very difficult… they don’t translate. I will say ramajay, in a sense, is GB’s (Gregory Ballentine’s) perception. Ramajay! Show off! Show how good you are! Play yuhself!”
GB, who Mohammed referred to, was popular composer and entertainer, who penned a ditty by the same name.