To be delivered by
Dr. the Honourable Surujrattan Rambachan
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications
For the Launch of the 9th Annual Calypso History Month
Friday 30th September, 2011
Senator Embau Moheni, Minister in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism
Mrs. Nicole Dyer-Griffith, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications
Ms. Margaret Parillon, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications
Your Excellency, Ambassador Makandal Daaga
Mrs. Joan Mendez, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO)
Members of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
A Media House owner once told HOLLIS LIVERPOOL (The Mighty Chalkdust) that Calypsonians cannot
write. CHALKIE assumed that the comment was passing judgement on the intelligence of the former
school teacher’s ability to contribute an article to the Newspaper.
The country’s first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams on the other hand considered the Calypsonian, a
Political scientist of sorts, a person who listened, followed the issues of the day and added musical
commentary to what would become popular themes during the carnival season. The corollary of this
however is that whilst Dr. Williams praised the calypsonian, when he didn’t want to hear their
criticism of his work, he would simply say “ Let the JACKASS sing” which in fact was the title of one of
I say this to position the importance of the art form that we have come to know and love as a
significant cultural strain of our pluralism for whilst its early beginnings could be traced to the NIGER
Delta in Nigeria, the flavourings of modern Calypso are wholly and solely TRINBAGONIAN.
Like our PAN invention, what we have achieved here in Calypso, others have copied and are making it
a part of their own genre. For instance, you’d be surprised that RAS SHORTY’s OM SHANTI OM was
reinvented and re-engineered by the famous Bollywood playback singer KISHORE KUMAR, becoming a
top global hit in the movie KARZ.
It is my understanding that the youths of Bollywood are now using the calypso beat to design music
videos, particularly those with an aerobic flavour, exercising their talents to keep in shape with our
musical inventions and creations.
In Ghana, where very soon our energy experts will be training Ghanaians in modern oil exploration
techniques, Alwin Roberts, the LORD KITCHENER is a household name. Similarly it may gratify you to
know that the former US Defence Chief of Staff GENERAL COLIN POWELL admitted that whenever he
had a spare moment during the Gulf War, he would listen to calypsos of the Might Sparrow. And
whilst General Powell was enjoying Sparrow, WAYNE HAYDE whose sobriquet is the WATCHMAN has
been doing yeoman service as a UN Peacekeeper in the SUDAN and other parts of Africa.
I say all of this to make the point that whilst we can locate the beginnings of KAISO in the African
Continent, our calypsonians have made it into an international BRAVADO expression and let us be
honest, a cross-border affair with CRO CRO and STALIN, SUGAR ALOES and ROSE and DENYSE
PLUMMER clashing on one stage with RIKKI JAI and REX WEST and TRINI and MASSIVE GOSYNE,
making calypso into one, big TRINBAGONIAN family affair that is gradually winning the hearts of film
producers and movie makers.
In fact, I understand that a movie entitled JEAN and DIANA, the story of two young and beautiful
Cunupia girls who comforted US Servicemen in Chaguaramas during world war two, is now on the
All of this goes to show how important Calypso has become as a cultural and economic Ambassador
and why it should be celebrated as we are doing here this morning in launching the 9th CALYPSO
History month as an integral part of our Ministry’s commemoration of the United Nations declaration
of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent.
I wish to congratulate TUCO, the TRINBAGO UNIFIED CALYPSONIANS’ ORGANIZATION for its relentless
work in ensuring that not just us but the world knows about Calypso and about those who bring their
intellect and skills to bear on the preservation of the art form.
This is most important for tomorrow’s generation who, through various forms of media, are
challenged by the bombardment of foreign cultural values. Where Calypso is taught, it should
become a staple in our cultural syllabus. The teachings must be structured in ways that can only
uplift society and not denigrate and assassinate the character of others. Calypso must return to the
glorious days of DUKE and MELODY and CHALKIE and BROTHER VALENTINO. We need to create new
Sparrows and BRYNAS and FRANCINES.
We must want to listen to commentaries that speak to the issues but with rhythm and taste and not
with personal attacks and venomous hate. Our children must be proud to follow in the footsteps of
I must tell you that the continuation of calypso, as a vehicle of clean, social commentary and cultural
expression will always be supported by the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
This is why, Prime Minister KAMLA PERSAD BISSESSAR offered two million dollars as the first prize in
this year’s National Calypso competition because she believes in the creative genius of our people
which can only be preserved with the proper infrastructure, financial, educational and sociological.
I want also to congratulate TUCO on the proposed publication of a calypso magazine, the production
of a CD and song in commemoration of this International Year. We will make available copies to all
our Diplomatic Missions and to Missions resident in Port of Spain. We shall present a copy to UN
Secretary General BAN KI MOON.
Let me also inform you that my Ministry has embarked upon its third initiative of internal
commemorations with the Ministry’s Future Diplomats Essay Competition focusing on the
It is our intention to expose students to the significance of African history, relations and contributions
as intended by the United Nations. On Wednesday, three members of staff visited the Sangre Grande
Secondary school and delivered a well received presentation in relation to this year’s observances. I
wish also to thank them.
Let thank the Media for being here this morning and to encourage you to give this month’s activities,
which will shortly be unveiled, your fullest support. I can never overstate how appreciative I am of
your presence and continuing support because I know the importance of your role as Scribes and
Finally, I want to say that the launch is this CALYPSO HISTORY MONTH comes at a time when we are
beginning to witness a new hope in our land which for too long has been in the hands of the criminals.
Sometimes, it becomes painful to see the dangerous arms and ammunition being discovered and
seized by the Law Enforcement Officers.
Even more disconcerting is the possibility of use by wicked and wayward TRINBAGONIANS against
their own people, innocent women, girls, men and boys whose lives could be snuffed away in a
second yet we have people in our society who romanticize crime, using all types of intellectual jargon
and rhetoric to literally defend those who raped the mother and young girl in Enterprise Village,
talking about rights. What about the rights of the innocent citizens who live in fear that their doors
will be broken down by bandits and that their daughters will be raped.
As a government, we have a duty to protect the citizens and we shall do everything within the laws of
Trinidad and Tobago to ensure citizens’ safety and security. Obviously, this creates yet another
avenue for Calypsonians to listen, to follow, to write and to compose and sing songs about this
mission upon which we have all embarked to further place calypso where it belongs so that
tomorrow’s generations will look back and learn from your responsible outpourings of social
commentary, for which we have become world famous. From these unfolding events, you’ll have a lot
to sing about when next year’s season opens soon.
I thank you.