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TT Icons honoured

By Sasha Harrinanan Wednesday, May 22 2013

click on pic to zoom in
ICONS AWARDEES: Hasely Crawford, left, TT's first Olympic gold medallist, and cricketer Brian Charles Lara, world record holder, display their Nationa...
ICONS AWARDEES: Hasely Crawford, left, TT's first Olympic gold medallist, and cricketer Brian Charles Lara, world record holder, display their Nationa...

Award-winning novelist, journalist, playwright and short story writer, Earl Lovelace, says as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, “We cannot produce a meaningful civilisation without each other. We do not want to. That is why we have to reaffirm the dreams of Independence with which we began, and not allow them to drop into the forgotten crevices of our imagination.”

Lovelace made the call for a continuation of the ideals and goals which were so prevalent during the 1950s-1970s. He was speaking then on behalf of his fellow awardees at the National Icon Awards, held Monday evening at Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s.

“It is my hope that one of the more memorable aspects of this ceremony that honours us, will be that it will open up a new discussion on what Independence might mean and how, in pursuing it, we might construct the society worthy of our struggles and our imagination,” Lovelace declared.

These struggles included, as he put it, “the rebellious arts of Mas, Calypso, pan and literature during the first 50 years of our Independence.”

Lovelace also said it was important for National Icons to “establish and develop a conversation” that will inspire and inform those among us for whom Independence has lost its lustre, “who see nation as an outdated concept, who even when they are willing to conceive of Independence, as a work in progress, have no idea what we are progressing to.”

Not one to shy away from controversy, the renowned playwright declared it was time that we as a people take responsibility for the Caribbean’s past.

“This can be done by firstly acknowledging it, acknowledging Amerindian slaughter, African enslavement, Indian indenture and by responding to them with reparative measures marked by justice, firmness and compassion.We have been encouraged to believe that it is better we forget our past, that letting it into our lives will lead to greater polarisation of the society...(But) what we know now is that the way Independence can yield the world that we want, is if we use the power and authority with which it is invested to also lay claim to the past,” Lovelace stated.

Meanwhile, fellow National Icon and businesswoman, Helen Bhagwansingh, expressed hope that through the televised broadcast and subsequent media coverage of Monday’s event, “younger generations would see that we put in work to achieve our dreams.”

“We have to better our country. We have to be charitable; do things to improve our country, create employment, make more business.

“We have to do what’s good for the country, we must do that.”

Other “Living Icons”; as they were dubbed in the Awards programme, included arguably the most famous Calypsonian in the world, Slinger “The Mighty Sparrow” Francisco, musician Mungal Patasar and steelpan arranger and composer Len “Boogsie” Sharpe.

Twenty-seven (27) of the 60 National Icons were given posthumous awards. Among them were Chutney Soca pioneer Sundarlal “Sundar Popo” Bahora, media pioneer Patrick Chookolingo, TT’s first prime minister and founder of the People’s National Movement, Dr Eric Williams, and engineer turned politician, Ranjit Kumar.

Accepting the award on Kumar’s behalf were three of his nine children, including Chief Executive Officer of the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Catherine Kumar.

Smiling broadly, Catherine told Newsday “it was a dream come true because Daddy did so much for this country. Most people aren’t aware of anything beyond his role in the construction of (the first dual carriageway at) Wrightson Road.”

“Born in India, (Kumar) was the first person to show an Indian feature film in Trinidad — he arrived here in 1935 as the distributor of Bala Joban. Our father was also involved in government, winning the most votes as an Independent, ever, when he contested the 1946 elections in the county of Victoria. I just feel elated and so proud to see him honoured as a National Icon,” Catherine said.

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