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SVG suffers more cultural losses

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SVG was placed in a state of shock last weekend with the sad news of the passing of one of our outstanding cultural exponents, Winston Soso.

In this we seem to be walking in the footsteps of Trinidad and Tobago which in the space of the last year or two has lost some of its leading cultural icons. Over the last month alone, the twin-island republic has been mourning the loss of prolific calypso and soca composer, Winston ‘Joker’ Devigne, the man responsible for many of Sparrow’s greatest hits; pan arranger/composer Godwin Bowen; and now the ’king’ of ‘rhapso’, the creative combination of rap and kaiso, Bro. Resistance.

But the Vincentian loss is even bigger given its size and impact on this tiny country. After a number of disturbing false alarms, the sad news was received last weekend of the passing of the man who earned himself the name of the “Rolls Royce’, of calypso, no mean epithet.

Trevor Lockhart may be his real name but Caribbean society as a whole will remember him as Winston Soso, of the sweet melodious voice and soca lyrics which had even Trini cultural nationalists blushing with envy. The praises already being showered on him give testimony to how high he is regarded in the calypso but especially ‘sweet soca’ world.

He had serious calypsoes worthy of note, none more so than his classic “Congratulations”. It is a pity, to use such a mild term, that our national radio station in its news broadcast announcing his death chose to feature one of his poplar soca hits, “Big Bottom”. Was that the most appropriate tribute for the occasion?

THE ‘MERCEDES BENZ’ OF GOALKEEPING?

There was another, very important contribution that ‘Sos’, as Winston became to be called affectionately, made to our national development, and that was in the area of sport, football to be exact. His accomplishments in the musical world and his premature departure from our shores may have something to do with it but it is important for the younger generation to know. It is a theme I will keep harping on until the various sporting, cultural and national authorities take heed.

If Winston Soso earned the description “Rolls Royce’ in soca, then it would perhaps not be out of place to make a comparison in football and refer to his exploits between the goalkeeper’s uprights as earning him the title of the “Mercedes Benz” of goalkeeping.

He came from a rich tradition of splendid goalkeepers, preceded by the likes of ‘Dougan’ MacCauly and Foster Huggins with our own pre-eminent sporting icon Mike Findlay, the doyen of them all. Soso maintained this high standard, the smoothness of his goalkeeping work later reflected in his repertoire of songs.

It is not well-known that ‘Sos’ it was who nearly kept one of our best-ever national goalkeepers, Dorian Phillips, from national and regional recognition. While he resided in Pauls Avenue, ‘Sos’ was the number one custodian for the Avenues club, since naturally he was national goal tender. In so doing, the younger Dorian had to be satisfied with avenues ‘B’ but such was his prodigious talent, that he was persuaded to join Roseans of Rose Place himself, to the benefit of all involved.

In extending condolences to his family and the Vincentian people, let me again appeal for a structured system of national recognition, Hall of Fame, National Honours to best celebrate the accomplishments of our outstanding contributors.

REMEMBERING KENNETH, A FOUNDATION STONE OF UPM

Earlier this week, Dr Kenneth John, long-standing local barrister, one of the earlier post-Adult Suffrage campaigners for national independence and sovereignty, and a pioneer of the local ‘Black power’ movement was laid to rest after his death earlier this month following a period of illness.

I first got to know him personally after my active involvement in the formation of BLAC (the Black Liberation Action Committee) of which I was a co-founder in February of 1972. There were not many lawyers sympathetic to our cause back then, but Dr John was certainly among the fewest of the few.

He would respond positively to invitations from us to speak to young people in what we, aping US jargon, called the “Ghetto’ areas, especially on matters relating to human and civilian rights as well as police brutality, a big issue back then. He also willingly contributed to the pamphlets we printed then, for which we were quite appreciative.

Given this background it was no wonder that when one of BLAC’s leading members, Junior ‘Spirit’ Cottle, got charged with the murder of Attorney General Eric Rawle in 1973, and our absolute inability to fund a defence campaign, he became one of the leading defence counsels, working gratis.

Over the years our relationship developed, not without regular political, ideological and tactical differences sometimes expressed in the media. Yet we remained on cordial terms and I would go so far as to say that though it is not well-known, the co-operation between us on a personal level was a key factor in bringing about the marriage of Dr John’s PDM, the Arwee group of Diamonds and us in YULIMO at the time, in spite of open sceptics within the ranks of all three. He needs to be accorded the recognition for the role he played in this historic step in our local politics. Much water has flowed under the bridge since, but we must accord him his due.

My condolences to his wife, Jenny and family as he goes on his way to met Bros. ‘PR’, Eddy Griffith and Kerwyn Morris, among his departed colleagues.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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