Category Archives: Culture

Celebrating Our Bards

By Raffique Shah
January 09, 2023

Raffique ShahUpon rereading my column last Sunday, I thought I did grave injustice to Leroy Calliste, the Black Stalin, by attempting to evaluate his immense contribution to calypso, the art form, and culture as a whole in Trinidad and Tobago, or indeed in the Carribbean, by summarizing his works in a few paragraphs. My apologies to the late bard who passed on and was given one of the most impressive funerals I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
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Black Stalin: calypsonian, crusader

By Raffique Shah
January 02, 2023

Raffique ShahBy a strange coincidence, last Tuesday, the fourth day of a very long Christmas weekend, I set up my music system around two in the afternoon, inserted a USB “stick” on which I have, over many years, collected hundreds of tracks from CDs I had bought or recorded music that was freely available for download from several sites on the Internet, and prepared for a treat I had not enjoyed for quite some time.
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Escalante’s escalating falsehoods

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
March 15, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI do not know Jean Claude Escalante but I am glad Prof Bridget Brereton pointed out his falsehoods with regard to Dr Theodore Lewis and his allegations that Trinidadians do not respect Fr Anthony de Verteuil’s work.

Brereton noted that over the past five years she “reviewed books by Fr de Verteuil and consistently and constantly called him a national treasure” (Express, March 10.)
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Education for those who want it

By Raffique Shah
September 13, 2021

Raffique ShahFor the second time in as many months I ask a question that is pertinent to this country’s future path, one that we need to answer because it is critical to everything else we do as we forge a road to recovery in the aftermath of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and the near-collapse of the national economy. It is this: are we satisfied with our education system which, give or take a tweak here, a turn there, has remained a hugely expensive relic of colonialism that refuses to die 60 years after independence.
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The Passing of the Pointer Man

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 31, 2021

PART 3

“Pointerman/The crossroad is self…./ seek the source of rivers/ begin here, in your hands, begin/each beginning,/new beginnings/ like vertiginous sacraments of water/ begin at the navel’s resolve, new/ incarnate flower.”

—LeRoy Clarke, Douens: Poems and Drawings

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoePainting was LeRoy Clarke’s true forte, but he was equally adept at poetry. In Parables of Joyless Days, Clarke described himself as “The Poet Who Paints With Words.” In 1981, he shocked our sensibilities when he cried: “Carpenter, shoemaker, dancer, wirebender,/ let me be the Artist—Poet—Farmer./ I will fork this earth, with my tongue/ let me plunge into your ear/ through syllables of violet, the science of turquoise, / through populous ochres and energetic reds/ through fathomless greens, through supplicant blue, / through the arterial vegetation of the rainbow” (Douens).
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The Passing of the Pointer Man

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 23, 2021

PART 2

EL TUCUCHE can be made the symbol of our greatest achievements—it is graced with the sovereignty that represents our transcendent power over Douendom where we are still held in disarray and ignorance. Above all, is Aripo, symbolically, the Eye am that Eye am, the one God in whose house there are many mansions, and to which many are the paths!

—LeRoy Clarke, Parables of Our Joyless Days

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn the 1950s a modern phase of T&T’s artistic development revealed itself in the paintings of M. P. Alladin, Geoffrey and Boscoe Holder, Leo Basso, Alfred Codallo, and Carlisle Chang. In “Painting in Trinidad and Tobago,” Pat Bishop declared: “These painters were not merely taking the brave step of painting in black face but were also prepared to participate in the modification or destruction of traditional image making.”
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The Passing of the Pointer Man

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 16, 2021

PART 1

“I maintain that art at its best reveals to us the fullness of what it means to be human.”

—Ben Okri, The Theatre Diaries

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeNo creative personality writes, paints or sculpts outside of his/her time and place. Necessarily a product of his history and his geography, s/he always tries to cast a light on the perils that confront his people. In so doing, s/he reflects on the truths and failings of humanity as well. LeRoy Clarke, our master-blaster, resided in that elevated region of greatness. He took on the persona “The Eye” to illuminate the perils that confronted his nation. In the words of our Orisha devotees, he was a Seer (he would have said Obeah) man, who strove assiduously to illumine the darkness that enveloped his people.
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Encounter with The Maestro

By Raffique Shah
August 16, 2021

Raffique ShahI was dreaming of the din that has developed over vaccination—to vaccinate or not?—which of the vaccines is acceptable, which is not?—an unholy row that is international in its reach, with the Internet offering a global platform to everyone who must have his say—when an apparition of Cecil Hume, stage name The Maestro, blotted out everything else, crooning in his high-pitched voice the near-comical lyrics of his masterful calypso, ‘Mr Trinidad’.
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MSJ’s David Abdulah: Slavery continues today

By Clint Chan Tack
August 01, 2021 – newsday.co.tt

MSJ leader David AbdulahMOVEMENT for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah said slavery continues today in different forms.

He made the statement in his Emancipation Day message to the nation.

He said the MSJ “deplores the fact that our education system is so deficient in the teaching of our real history – the history of the struggle “out of slavery, through indenture and up to freedom.”
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Glorious day(s) of the happy and the free

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 01, 2021

PART 1

The masters were “dam tief”, the Governor an “old rogue”, and the King not such a fool as to buy them half free when he was rich enough to pay for them altogether.

—Port of Spain Gazette, August 5, 1834

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeToday is Emancipation Day. Ashton Ford, one of our respected elders, remembers the impetus that led former prime minister George Chambers to change the Discovery Day holiday (a day that recognised the misdeeds of our oppressors) to Emancipation Day that honours the achievements of our ancestors.

Chambers believed if you named your streets and monuments after local patriots, you encouraged a sense of nationhood and strengthened national identity among the population.
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