by Jonathan Petre
SISTER Monica, a slight figure in a light grey habit, could hardly contain her joy. Linking arms with members of the folk group that had led the singing at Mass earlier in the day, she entertained the crowd gathering on the piazza outside All Saint's Anglican Church on Talbot Road with a lively display of dancing to the rhythm of Tin Pan Alley, a steel band from Germany.
She had every right to celebrate. Dubbed "Miss Carnival" by Fr Michael Hollings, parish priest at St Mary of the Angels, Bayswater, Sr Monica had played a large part in the organisation of the ecumenical "fiesta of praise" which represented the first major event in this year's Notting Hill Carnival.
By midday a crowd had gathered on the piazza in the bright sunshine, where they were treated to a cacophony of steel band and reggae music." Several hours later the crowd had swelled to thousands.
A multi-racial folk group sang Christian hymns in Calypso style, and soon the spectators were joining in, in "the true spirit of Carnival" as one onlooker put it.
Dr Satterthwaite, the Atiglican Bishop of Europe, who had just come from an ecumenical service in St Francis, Pottery Lane mounted the rostrum to lead the crowd in the Lord's Prayer to a background of reggae music. He was followed by Fr Hollings, a Jewish Rabbi, a Police Constable and the Dr Mark Sangster, Anglican Bishop of Kensington, who had been present at the Catholic Mass on Saturday evening.
The Mass on Saturday was the high point of the Catholic celebrations for the Carnival. The large congregation that packed the church of St Mary heard Fr Harcourt Blackett, a black priest from Barbados, deliver a powerful sermon.
"For many people this (Carnival) is a cultural expression of the West Indian people. For others, it's a time for letting off steam and for others it's a noisy event we can perhaps do without. For me, however, Carnival is a very religious event."
Carnival has a particular link with black culture, he said, because it was the form of celebration adopted by the African slaves in the Caribbean when they were emancipated in 1833 and took to the streets with dance and music which they created by beating oil drums, pieces of iron and the blowing of shells.
Addressing himself to the problems of the black community Fr Blackett said: "Ever since I arrived in England and on previous visits I have been trying to get a feel of what West Indians here are experiencing. From all reports that I have been getting I cannot but conclude that West Indians living in Britain are living under great pressure. With constant threats of repatriation, with constant harassment and discrimination at all levels, West Indians have developed a tremendous mistrust for the British, for their sense of justice and fair-play "For West Indians the answer to such situations is not to be found in violence. Violence has a way of breeding violence and that too is against the Gospel. And so the situation is for the Church to announce the Gospel to both West Indians and British, it is this turning to Christ that will bring about the healing we are all looking for."
Fortunately an atmosphere of good will pervaded the Carnival on Sunday. The police reported only 12 arrests for minor offences. A police spokesman said: "It has been a wonderfully trouble free and peaceful carnival."
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