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Traditional Tobago wake for Robbie

By KARL E CUPID Tobago Bureau Thursday, May 1 2014

Naval guns under the command of TT Coast Guard personnel would be discharged from Fort King George overlooking Scarborough in delivering the 21-gun salute at the funeral of former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chairman, Prime Minister and President Arthur Napoleon Robinson at the Scarborough Methodist cemetery at Bacolet on Saturday afternoon.

This was confirmed by Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General Anthony Phillips-Spencer, Coordinator of the Inter-Ministerial Committee overseeing the funeral arrangements, during a press briefing at the THA Administrative Complex in Scarborough yesterday afternoon.

Meantime, tonight, Tobagonians are expected to gather at James Park, uptown Scarborough, for the traditional ‘Tobago Wake’ featuring cultural groups from throughout the island in a ‘celebration’ of Robinson’s life. Tomorrow, Robinson’s body will lie in State from 8.30am to 5.45pm a stone’s throw away from the THA Legislative Chamber, overlooking James Park, where he served as the inaugural chairman of the Assembly in 1980.

Phillips-Spencer said Robinson’s State funeral would see “the largest procession of this nature” in the country, noting that Robinson in his capacity as President was also Commander-in-Chief of the TT Defence Force. The procession, which will be preceded by a private service at the Scarborough Methodist Church, will commence at 3.30pm at the Coast Guard Base at Shaw Park, in lower Scarborough, and wind its way through the streets of the capital to the Methodist cemetery at Bacolet.

Prior to the private service, there will be an Ecumenical Service at 9.30am at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet. Phillips-Spencer also revealed that a decision has already been made to designate Robinson’s entombed grave as a ‘‘Heritage Site’’ in Tobago.

Several Heads of State, a Governor-General, at least two prime ministers of neighbouring Caribbean states, president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) — of which Robinson has been described as ‘‘grand-father’’, among other dignitaries, are expected in Tobago for the funeral. Saluting Robinson as “one of the greatest citizens of our country”, Phillips-Spencer asserted that Tobago must have a special place in the sense of what Robinson contributed to the development of Trinidad and Tobago.

He said the overriding factors informing arrangements for the funeral are the ‘solemnity’ and ‘‘sobriety’’ of the occasion befitting a man of Robinson’s stature. “We would not want to put away such a distinguished son-of-the-soil in an unsuitable manner”, Phillips-Spencer stressed. Meanwhile, according to Phillips-Spencer, members of the Robinson family have been “very strong going through this experience”. The Inter-Ministerial Committee will have its final meeting on location at the Dwight Yorke Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

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