St. John’s Antigua- It has been said that Ali and Associates is part of the elite and dwindling sector of traditional mas’.
The band started in 1977, with Alister Thomas, Everton Jacobs and Leroy Gordon, now deceased. Thomas is a mas’ designer of 43 years.
His talent and perseverance has created many opportunities for the troupe throughout the Caribbean. Among its accomplishments are awards for best costumes worn by Jaycees contestants in St Vincent and St Kitts, Band of the Year in St Martin and best costume in parade in Guadeloupe.
The theme for this year will be “A Taste of 35,” honouring the 35th anniversary of the troupe, capturing the tradition and culture of Antigua’s mas’.
There are three children’s sections: Tight Mas’, We Up Front in Deh and Passing the Torch. The adult sections are: Day of the Vice God, We Love Mas’, Ecstasy, Eclipse, They Did It and Summer Festival, a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of King Short Shirt.
This year, there is also a special party section – Fancy Flag Wavers, which is in association with the Benna Boys.
Ali and Associates prides itself on the wire bending and locally made costumes, where all modifications are made at the camp. There are many factors that separate Ali and Associates from other mas’ troupes here in Antigua.
Thomas said that the troupe’s designs prove that mas’ is art. They ensure that an emphasis is placed on the relevance and development of the theme.
It is not simply a design but an ode to intellectual mas’, he said, or an “artistic statement.”
Come Carnival Monday and Tuesday Ali & Associates will hit the streets in full splendour. Catering for the troupe will be done by Jason Broodi. Souvenirs will be available for those participating with the J’Ouvert troupe, including t-shirts, towels, caps and other paraphernalia.
Thomas said the troupe intends to stay in the medium category, with around 500 participants this year. With the creation of costumes from scratch that category has become their comfort zone.
The economic decline has affected this troupe just as many others. Thomas noted that although there has been a reduction in sponsors as well as a late start in designs, the troupe still has been able to keep on schedule with production.
However, Ali and Associates shows appreciation to its sponsors with an annual Sponsors Cocktail and Awards ceremony.
Corporate Sponsors include American University of Antigua, Global Bank of Commerce, Hadeed Motors, Town House Mega Store, Photogenesis, Titans Group, Percival Enterprise, Stitch World, GCS Bottling and Shoul’s Toys and Gifts.
Five years from now, Thomas hopes to see the new generation at the helm of the troupe. His son, Damani Thomas, completed five of the costume designs this year, while his daughter, Seraa Thomas, shaded the costumes.
Expect to see the next generation of Thomas taking up the gauntlet and transitioning Ali and Associates into the new generation of mas’, merging tradition with celebration.