LEST WE FORGET…
2013 AND THE FINAL DAYS OF THE GOLDEN AGE GENERATION
- Justice Ulric Cross– WWII veteran airman, the most decorated West Indian of World War II, super diplomat/judge, all-round James Bond type hero
- Luis Kimme– genuis sculptor and visual artist, Muse of Tobago
- Penguin– calypsonian writer of classics like ‘Look de Devil Dey’, ‘A Deputy is Essential’, and ‘Sorf Man’,
- Stanley Marshall– brilliant Trinidad Theatre Workshop actor who owned such roles as Moustique in Derek Walcott’s ‘Dream on Monkey Mountain’
- Syl Dopson– footballer with champion side Shamrock and musical legend, leader of the seminal Kaiso All Stars
- Louis Homer– journalist- champion of folklore and Heritage
- Narsalo Ramaya– one of the country’s most respected violinists and Indian Classical musicians, one of the founders of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC)
- Jeffrey Chock– one of the Caribbean’s greatest photographers, dedicated visual poet of East Port of Spain and the Carnival
- Marjorie Boothman– cultural matriarch and memory of Afro-Saxon Golden Age culture and matriarch of the Holder and Boothman clan
- Michael Als– unionist/ community leader, founder of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), founder of the revolutionary Toco Foundation which pioneered community reclamation from the ground-up- particularly rural communities
- Dr Tony Martin– genius Caribbean historian, the world’s defining scholar on Marcus Garvey and author of possibly the most important book on Caribbean History called ‘Caribbean History- From Pre-Colonial Origins to the present’
- George Ng Wai– driving force of the band Imij and Company/Second Imij, lead vocalist and percussionist for the original line-up of the late Andre Tanker and The Flamingoes in the 1960s, panman with the Dixieland, Silver Stars and Phase II
- Teddy Belgrave– unionist/historian/activist, icon within both the steelband and labour movement, founding member of Birdsong Steel Orchestra, writer of the history of the Communications Workers Union,
- Isidore Smart– chief state solicitor, patriarch of the Smart family
- Mc Donald Bailey– called the Black Flash, one of the greatt sprinters of the early 20th century, held a Guinness World Record for the longest winning streak in a race- the sprint double which he won seven times at the AAA Championships. He jointly held the 100 m world record at 10.2 seconds between 1951 and 1956 with the great Jessee Owens
- Isaac Thurliff (IT) McLeod– Tobagonian businessman and quantity surveyor
- Edward Hernandez– curator par excellence of Tobago history and the Tobago Museum
- Peter Harris– Trinbago’s principal archaeologist who discovered the Banwari Man fossil which established T&T’s pedigree of having a 7000 year old human civilisation
- Sheilah Solomon– constitutional and community activist
- Cetewayo– genius rapso musician, possibly one of the greatest performers in the Caribbean
- Mr Oliver Boothman– husbdand of Marjorie and cultural patriarch
- Calypso Princess– calypsonian
- Mighty Toiler– calypsonian
- Norma Andrews– writer
- Trevor Farrell– economist, former senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies
- Sam Gobin– TV technician
- Mr Batson– keyboard repairs
- David ‘Splav’ Waddell– Panman (Invaders, Starlift, and Third World).
Who likes to be right about such things? As I predicted 15 years ago 2012 was ground zero for the Golden Age generation with over 19,000 of the 20,000 VIP Elders I had identified dying by that date. I watched as 2013 saw the passing of many elder family members of mine and friends of mine… A cursory glance at Facebook profiles for the year showed just how many from that wider generation were passing from that treasured generation. We are witnessing our own ‘Greatest Generation’ passing away.
The term ‘Greatest Generation’ has been coined to refer to the World War I and II generations who Europeans and Americans see as responsible for preserving freedom from tyranny and the excesses of the Nazi threat. Their ‘Greatest Generation’ and ours correspond in terms of age. Whilst American, Soviet, and European soldiers battled Germany and the Axis- back home right here a generation created an unprecedented cultural, social, and intellectual revolution and Renaissance. Pan, Mas, and Calypso emerged in their modern forms, the ethnic festivals rose, the Trade Union movement and Independence dreams arose, the fine arts and our indigenous scholarship rose to defining peaks.
The Europeans and Americans responded to their ‘Greatest Generation’ by building Museums, commissioning statues and monuments, recording documentaries and books and doing everything in their power to honour their Legacy. We of course did no such thing. It has been left to a handful of us to attempt to record stories, pay homage, and to pass on traditions and skills. 2014 will be our final chance to do right by our Legacy…
2013 saw the passing of a series of strong willed survivors who held enormous amounts of critical national information and skills. There were at least 20 individuals we lost this year whose passing in any other country would have plunged that country into national mourning. Any other nation and its leaders would have recognised that they had lost a critical National Treasure and would have mobilized to suit. Every effort would have been made to document and consecrate every Memory and artefact of that revered Elder before they died. No effort would have been spared to consecrate their Legacy after death. In Trinidad & Tobago these deaths passed silently, marginally heralded, and mourned only by a handful of faithful few. Their Memories and Legacies were recognised and preserved by even less…
Myself and the Artists’ Coalition of Trinidad & Tobago will be attempting a series of ambitious projects in 2014 aimed at a final attempt to consolidate our national Legacies and Traditions.
We are asking for all your support and also for each one of us to become recorders of our own family Legacies. You can do so by doing the following:
- Get your parents, grandparents, and/or elders to identify everyone who is in all their old pictures, write or record the stories for each picture
- Do a family tree as far back as possible with stories of all the people- link the family tree to the pictures you have
- Record the stories of your oldest relatives
- Collect their birth papers and all their official documents and ask them questions. You may even discover property that you may own!!!