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‘Kite-man’ wants return to local culture

By WALTER ALIBEY Tuesday, April 24 2012

POPULAR Trinidad and Tobago “kite-man” Arthur Henry is calling for locals to revert to the way Trinbagonians have known kites to be, which is to be an enjoyment of sound and sight.

Yesterday Henry, who was one of the judges for this year’s 90.5Fm- sponsored Kite Flying competition over the Easter vacation at the Queen’s Pak Savannah, Port-of-Spain said the country has been overtaken by kites imported from China.

He explained that at competitions nowadays the rules are provided, not for what we in Trinidad and Tobago have known kites to do, but rather for how it looks.

“At the competition there were prizes for the most colourful kite, best 90.5 Fm kite and longest tail. However, we in TT have enjoyed kites for the sounds it make and its ability to ‘duck’ and move from side to side. At competitions nowadays these categories are excluded,” Henry remarked.

Henry, known as the “kite-man” for all his life, said his love for kites was adopted from his father Burtie Henry.

He feels members of the public are also disappointed by the change from local to Chinese kites because kite flyers always call him to fix defective kites. “All I know is that there has been a huge influx in kites from China. We do not know who brought them in and who we can turn to solve problems with the kites and therefore people always come to me because they know me,” Henry said.

He is calling on promoters and organisers of competitions to arrange their rules to promote local kites as well as the abilities of the people making them. The Chinese kites, he said, only hover in the air with little or no movement.

Henry made it clear that the joy in having a kite comes in making it and then showing what it can do.

“In Trinidad and Tobago we would normally put ‘mange’ on the thread to cut other kite owners and this is where the enjoyment in kite comes.”

Henry explained that he makes hundreds of kites, a trade that he took from his father. “My father was a poor man but the enjoyment he brought from making a kite to us was extraordinary. I took up his trade and when I make kites, I am encouraged by just thinking about the smiles it would bring on the faces of the hundred of children, so I just do it.”

Henry said his ultimate aim is to stage a grand kite flying competition where people would be allowed to make their kites and expose them to the public on competition day.

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