In beginning part 2 of this blog post, I would like to remind Mr. Felix Rohner and the readers that our blog is a business matter pure and simple. My partners and I do not know Mr. Rohner personally, but as this is a matter of business, our personal knowledge of him or lack thereof has no bearing on our view of the situation.
At KaribPAN our mission is to promote ethical, socially conscious business practices in the world of Pan, and our mission must continue.
At 23:10 in the PanART documentary, the narrator states that, ''However, certain musicians in Trinidad see it (the hang) as merely a copy''
While this fact was duly noted in the documentary and still holds true today, 10 years after the documentary was actually released, the overwhelming consensus among the hang/handpan community is that the hang is a ''new, unique'' instrument. Despite the fact that this is the case and there are still many misinformed people touting the hang as a ''new'' instrument, it is apparent that Mr. Rohner is deeply disturbed that he has not managed to gain the respect and admiration he truly desires from the steelpan community in the Mecca (Trinidad). The admiration and respect among the majority of the hang/handpan community will not suffice for Mr. Rohner, as it is apparent that he willingly accepts his role as their master guru. However, the Holy Grail as far as Mr. Rohner is concerned is widespread respect among the originators in the home of the originators, which has escaped him thus far and will continue to escape him in the future.
The response that Mr. Rohner gives to the fact that ''certain musicians in Trinidad see the hang as a copy is:
''It's a symbol of creativity, it's a gift from Trinidad. The steelpan is the symbol of an entire people's creativity, a people which had lost its roots. This gift from Trinidad has always pushed me to develop my own creative power through it. While looking for new materials and forms in complete liberty, without cultural constraints.''
Here again, we have yet another example of Mr. Rohner demonstrating his elitist attitude where the pan and its originators are concerned. Here Mr. Rohner admits indirectly that the steelpan originators are vulnerable due to them losing their roots/history. In all reality, they did not lose their roots by accident, but they were forcibly stripped of their roots/history through genocide, slavery, colonization and hundreds of years of oppression. This is precisely why most Trinidadian/West Indian negroes are walking around with European names to this very day, even though their roots are not in Europe. Their names are obviously slave names, one of the many modern day remnants of slavery.
So as a descendant of a former colonialists such as Mr. Rohner is, who has benefitted from the exploitation of others, he should be highly conscious of the fact that he is a GUEST in the steelpan community, and as such, he is not entitled to ''complete liberty without cultural constraints'' as he claims to have acheived through the hang.
This mentality is precisely why he is viewed as a colonizer in the Mecca by most who are aware of him, and will most likely never gain respect where he desires it most. Mr. Rohner is attempting to claim rights to something that he does not own (hang) and will never own, no matter what new name or new spin he tries to put on an old invention.
At 23:55, Mr. Rohner goes on to state that,
''I have never considered myself a thief because I have been able to make my own contribution. I always understood the symbolic statement that this people (in Trinidad) had made creating the steelpan.
I already discussed the reasons why Mr. Rohner has demonstrated that he is a thief in a previous blog post entitled, ''If You Own a Hang or Wish to Own a PanART Hang, You Are Either Highly Misinformed, Very Elitist, or Both!''
The part of Mr. Rohners statement at 23:55 that I would like to address now is the fact that he claims to ''understand the symbolic statement that this people (in Trinidad) had made creating the steelpan.''
It is apparent to me that there is no way someone like Mr. Rohner who has benefitted from the exploitation of others could in any possible way understand the ''statement'' that the steelpan represents to a people like Trinidadian negroes. This statement (steelpan) was born out of genocide, slavery, colonization and oppression, and Mr. Rohner as a Swiss-German descendant of colonizers could never begin to even grasp such atrocities which contributed to the development of the pan. These remarks by Mr. Rohner are disingenuous and patronizing to say the least. Someone in his position would naturally be inclined to say such things but to the originators, this is nothing more than lip service.
Mr. Rohner would be better of feiging ignorance than claiming that he ''understands'' what genocide, slavery, colonization and oppression is all about from the view of the oppressed, considering the fact that the Germans have historically been among the greatest, most prolific, genocidal, colonizing maniacs the world has ever known.
At 40:36 in the documentary, a Swiss performer who yodels and plays the hang and obviously feels very comfortable with his incorporation of it into his yodeling act states, ''For me the hang corresponds to a new world of music, it really enriched my songs.''
For the students of history, Trinidad & Tobago was part of Christopher Columbus' ''new world'', which was ''discovered'' by him (even though Carib and Arawak natives were already present long before his arrival), and used to ''enrich'' the colonial powers of Europe. The striking metaphor in this Swiss yodelers statement was not lost on us.
In the same way Trinidad and her people were used to enrich Europeans then, it is being used through the hang/handpan to enrich Europeans today. And all of this enrichment is based on exploitation obviously.
In closing, I would like to publicly encourage Mr. Rohner to give back to the steelband community in Trinidad & Tobago, which is the source of his riches and fame/infamy. It is his duty as someone who has earned a comfortable living from Pan as well as the duty of any other business person in the world of Pan who acheives success. I would also encourage any other persons employed by PanART to make a donation as well.
In addition, a substantial donation on the part of Mr. Rohner would certainly go a long way in improving his reputation among the very same people whom he desires respect and recognition from.
A worthy cause for Mr. Rohner to make a substantial, meaningful contribution to is ''Expats & Locals for Pan'', a grassroots organization currently being developed as we speak on ''When Steel Talks''/WST, the leading, largest online steelpan community. The goal of ''Expats and Locals for Pan'' is to generate funding on a grassroots level to organize a prefessionally recorded showcase of the finest steelbands/pannists, in order that pan enthusiasts in the Mecca and worldwide can personally support and begin to control and shape the destiny of Pan on a broad level, with an eye towards a future of exponential growth.
The actual topic can be found here and all pan enthusiasts are welcome to give their input as well as make a donation: