Trinidad e Tobago
Personal experiences are often the catalyst for taking on greater causes and events. In the case of cricketer/entertainer Dwayne Bravo, tackling the issue of period poverty began when his daughter Dwaynice first got her period. That was three years ago. He was in Australia and her mother called him in a panic because she was nervous about it. At the time, Bravo found that humorous, but then began to think about what it would have been like if he had not been in a position to do assist or provide for his daughter. He soon realised there are many women and girls throughout the world who are often without sanitary napkins and products. Having read and heard of the work of Indian entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham (Padman), Bravo asked his management team to reach out to Muruganantham, inventor of a low-cost sanitary-pad making machine that helped change unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India. “So they made some calls and the calls were taken and the time and place set up. I flew to meet him personally and visit his factories and see the machines for myself and got the opportunity to actually make two pads on my own,” Bravo said to WMN in the face-to-face interview. Bravo described Muruganantham as very humble and soft-spoken. “Going to the factory and seeing all his work...In India people really work hard and are very committed to what they do, and I admire that about people in India. “What stood out for me while I was there in the factory was him showing me the plaque that he received from Bill Gates (the principal founder of Microsoft Corporation and American investor, author, philanthropist, and humanitarian). [caption id="attachment_791947" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Dwayne Bravo chats with journalist Melissa Doughty at Newsday's Port of Spain, Trinidad head office. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale[/caption] "Muruganantham shared a story with me that the Bill Gates Foundation reached out to him a couple of times and he rejected it. Then Bill Gates personally reached out to him and sent his own private plane to bring him to the US. “Seeing the plaque on the wall and seeing Mr Gates’ signature, I even recorded it on my phone and that was like, 'Wow. That someone like Bill Gates reached out to this man is definitely something special.” Bravo realised bringing Muruganantham’s machine to TT would aid many women and girls who might not have the means to afford sanitary napkins and products. Although there is need for it, Brvao said, "if we don’t have, we make things seem as though we are okay.” When he thought of even starting a project to provide low-cost sanitary napkins, Bravo was initially “in two minds,” thinking “me being a man and being someone who is out there and flashy and stuff – but at the same time this is not a subject that men feel comfortable getting involved in.” But Bravo also knew while he did not initially see himself as an “ambassador for pad,” when he looked at the bigger picture, he saw the need for them and the significant difference he would be making in the lives of others. [caption id="attachment_791949" align="alignnone" width="711"] Dwayne Bravo wants to use his star power to bring others on board. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale[/caption] As he sees his idea becoming a reality, he is happy his management team and those around him persuaded him to bring it to TT. Bravo has already brought in one machine. Although some of the logistics have to be finalised, his dream of providing low-cost or free sanitary napkins is well on its way. He has also partnered with Helping Her Foundation, a group of young women leading the charge against period poverty. The material required for making the pads is also here. “We have to figure out a way, when the first batch of materials is finished, how are we going to get more? “It is something I want to have continue throughout the country, and, (if all goes) according to plan, bring down another machine and install it in a another village or another school to have it up and running is the main goal,” he said. In the long term, Bravo wants to see this become a regional initiative. While he has already reached out to some people in Jamaica, TT is priority and he wants to “ensure that it is set it up at home properly, and then I will try to expand. It is like a long-term goal kind of thing." He is interested with partnering with government on the initiative but has not had any official meetings. He has, however, spoken to Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe because he has a “personal back and forth with her” on various issues and feels comfortable approaching her. [caption id="attachment_791948" align="alignnone" width="750"] Dwayne Bravo expalins to journalist Melissa Doughty that he had conflicting thoughts on the project, “me being a man and being someone who is out there and flashy and stuff – but at the same time this is not a subject that men feel comfortable getting involved in." PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale[/caption] His main wish is to have everyone onboard with this initiative, whether it is the prime minister, health minister, opposition leader or everyday Joe. While menstruation and pads might be difficult topics for some men, Bravo believes his star power would be enough to generate a conversation among TT’s men. “They are seeing one of the most successful human beings in TT endorsing it – not to be cocky or anything like that, but the things I have achieved over the years, being a true ambassador of my people throughout the region and worldwide, I am highly respected worldwide, and if I can make a brave move like that...We are not bringing drugs or selling guns, we are doing something to change people’s lives. “There is no man out there – as much as they don’t want to talk about it – but there is no guy or man who will not support something like this. It is impossible unless they have no feelings, family or kids.” He wants men to know the importance of period poverty and of providing affordable or even free sanitary napkins. He also hopes to get some of his more influential teammates involved and supporting the project. Once this is done, he believes other people will follow. Doing charity work, he said, is part of who he is, whether through his Dwayne Bravo Foundation, assisting abandoned children or supporting the TT Blind Cricket Association. If Bravo had his way, “Everyone would be in a comfortable position, no one should be hungry, no one should be shoeless or anything like that.” It makes him sad to see the poverty that exists in some countries. “Despite so much money and resources, there is still so much poverty around the world.” He believes if an individual can make a difference in someone’s life, then they should. “If you are successful, you should try and help others be successful or pave a way to give others opportunities.”
The post Dwayne Bravo: Caribbean champion against period poverty appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.
Aniqah Bailey is only 11 but she has already mastered more than 13 marathons. No stranger to placing on the winner’s podium every time she competes, the running star shyly showed off her large collection of medals, during an interview with Newsday Kids, at Newsday's head office in Port of Spain. Aniqah placed first in the female category of the Starbucks 5K Coffee Run 2019 – finishing the race in 20 minutes and 39 seconds – on September 15. As if that feat was not impressive enough, she outpaced some of her more mature competitors, a few weeks later, at the Scotiabank Women Against Breast Cancer 5K where she placed second in a time of 21 minutes and 40 seconds. When asked about her start, she said, “I began running at eight-years-old. I feel very happy when I am running.” [caption id="attachment_791956" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Eleven-year-old Aniqah Bailey on her way to placing second in the Scotiabank 5K on September 28. PHOTO courtesy +One a Week Multi-Sport Club -[/caption] One may imagine that it may be challenging to complete the distances that Aniqah runs but she does not think it is so, saying, “A 5K marathon is not that long.” She shared that even before the 5Ks, she completed a four-mile (6.4K) run. Apart from marathons, she also competes in track events, and usually wins all the medals at her school sports, something that may come as a surprise to no one. Aniqah loves spelling and keeps on top of her work as a student of Diego Martin Government Primary School. She wants be a professional athlete and hopes to represent TT at international competitions. [caption id="attachment_791953" align="alignnone" width="756"] Medals and a trophy are symbols of 11-year-old Aniqah Bailey's victories in 5Ks. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB - ROGER JACOB[/caption] “I would love to represent us at the Olympics. I would feel proud and excited if I represent the country.” She once met three-time soca monarch Aaron ‘Voice’ St Louis. “He told me to believe in myself,” she said. A huge fan of soca, Aniqah hopes to meet Nailah Blackman, saying, “I like all her songs.” Aniqah knows that success does not come easy though and said she makes sacrifices to train. “During training we do drills and warm-ups. I train after school and on weekends.” Don’t be too concerned about her schedule as Aniqah makes sure she gets time to rest and have fun. [caption id="attachment_791954" align="alignnone" width="725"] Aniqah Bailey stands alongside Kenyan runner Alex Ekesa after they won the female and male categories in the Starbucks 5K Coffee Run in Maraval on September 15. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
-[/caption] “I like to sleep a lot when I am not training, and from time to time I go out with my friends.” She may not be able to eat everything due to a strict and healthy diet to maintain her running form, but Aniqah enjoys watching people create a variety of foods. “I like to watch cooking. I am always watching the Food Network.” Supported by her proud parents, Makeida Sealy and Agenia Bailey, Aniqah is already preparing for next year's try-outs for a national junior team. She thanked her coach Derrick Simon, of the One a week Multi-Sport Club in Port of Spain, for his hard work in training her. [caption id="attachment_791952" align="alignnone" width="657"] Distance runner Aniqah Bailey shares a loving moment with her mother Makeida Sealy during their visit to Newsday, Port of Spain recently. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB - ROGER JACOB[/caption] Aniqah would not let the interview end without sharing one more thing, “My favourite colour is pink.”
For Calypso History Month, Sunday Newsday reflects on the Mighty Sparrow’s (Slinger Francisco) first calypso hit, and how he came to compose the song that launched his career. DOMINIC KALIPERSAD THE story of Jean and Dinah, also known as Yankee Gone, the first hit calypso by Mighty Sparrow, is a social commentary on life in Trinidad in the post-World War II era in more ways than one. The narrative reflects the large-scale prostitution that was supported by the US marines who were stationed at American military bases in Chaguaramas, the impact of US naval withdrawal on local sex workers, and the desperation of those women after the closure of the bases in the post-war period. Jean and Dinah, Rosita and Clementina Round de corner posin' Bet your life is something dey sellin' But when you catch them broken you could get dem all for nuttin' Doh make no row De Yankee gone and Sparrow take over now The 1956 song gave Sparrow his first Calypso King crown and his first Carnival Road March title. Its genesis, however, is rooted in classism, which was pervasive in post-slavery Trinidad. Sparrow’s response to the experience turned out to be a reflection of the ingenuity of the calypsonian. The original version of the song had been written as a radio advertising jingle which Sparrow proposed to a big dry goods store in Port of Spain, Salvatori, Scott & Co Ltd. The company, apparently too posh to entertain a calypso-style sound branding to promote its business, snubbed the jingle without even listening to it. The business had been founded by a Frenchman, Joseph Henry Salvatori, who had come to Trinidad in 1910 to liquidate some of his uncle's property interests. Salvatori remained to work in the cocoa business and, in 1913, acquired a dry goods concern, Wilson Sons & Co. He entered into partnership with CW Scott, formerly of Wilson Sons & Co, under the name Salvatori, Scott and Co. On Scott’s death in 1919, Salvatori assumed full responsibility for the business, formed a limited liability company, and became the governing director. Salvatori’s department store became so successful that years later, in 1961, his company built the iconic Salvatori building at the corner of Frederick Street and Marine Square (now Independence Square). The company’s image could not accommodate calypso, which, in its early days, was considered crude, vulgar and not culturally proper, so much so that respectable people would not be expected to sing it. Sparrow, who was only three years into a fledgling career, wanted to join the ranks of those seasoned calypsonians who were using the indigenous artform for commercial benefit. “Jingles were really going (in the mid-50s)," he recalled. “So I said to myself, if I really want to get in on this thing, then, maybe, Salvatori, Scott and Co would really be the place that might be interested. I say they really look big and successful, so I made the jingle and went to ‘the man.’ He just continued to listen to me, but never listened to the song. Eventually, he called me and gave me two dollars. A fella named Jean Antoni. He never heard the song or anything. He just got tired of me bothering him.” In a 1980s interview with Alvin Daniel on TTT’s Calypso Showcase, Sparrow provided more detail: “I always tell people that during the days of up and down in Port of Spain, just regular, I had a melody in my head: Salvatori, Scott and Co... dum dee dee dum dum. Just a little melody. “In those days, people like (Lord) Melody and Small Island Pride were advertising for Hi-Lo and Glamour Girl Lingerie and so on. “So I thought that Salvatori should be advertising. They’re bigger and they seem prosperous; why aren’t they advertising. So I made up the thing.” Sparrow believed the jingle he composed was very catchy. These were the lyrics: Jean and Dinah, Rosita and Clementina Came to me one morning After they complete their shopping. And they told me, Honey, I never had more luxury More than when I stop And went into Salvatori to shop. Undaunted by Antoni’s rejection, Sparrow remained confident about the melody of the composition. So, being in tune with current affairs, and astute enough to adapt the song to reflect contemporary social circumstances, he changed the lyrics while retaining the main characters – Jean and Dinah, Rosita and Clementina –and adding a fifth one, Dorothy. “I thought that (the jingle) was nice. And I had loved the characters.” The female shoppers in the jingle became streetwalkers seeking financial survival during the country’s economic depression. Trinidad’s economy was going through a slump exacerbated by a slow departure of servicemen from the US naval base at Chaguaramas following the end of World War II. For many women, being mopsies for the remaining sailors was still an option for income; some husbands even looking the other way as jobs were becoming scarce. This gave Sparrow the inspiration to build the story of Jean and Dinah. Yankees in town The US had established naval bases in Trinidad during the war as part of an agreement with the British, who wanted to boost security of shipping lines because Nazi U-boats had been prowling the Caribbean Sea. The Americans arrived on October 10, 1940. The Chaguaramas base was commissioned on June 1, 1941, and achieved full operation in 1943. The base was met with some controversy. Trinidad’s Governor, Hubert Winthrop Young, did not agree with the location because it would displace villagers and close the area’s beaches. Young felt the base should be built in the Caroni Swamp. The British overruled him and eventually sent him home to England in 1942. The right to evict people from the Chaguaramas peninsula was given to the Americans by the Lease Land Agreement, the Defence Regulations, and the Trinidad Base Agreement. Chaguaramas became a full military area and the northwest peninsula was strictly prohibited to the public. Villagers were relocated to Carenage, Diego Martin, St James, and Port of Spain. The strategic position of Chaguaramas came into global prominence as a result of the base, which became one of the famed “destroyer bases.” [caption id="attachment_791940" align="alignnone" width="887"] Sparrow in full flight at the Normandie Under the Trees concernt on February 20, 2015. FILE PHOTO -[/caption] Years after the war ended in 1945, the US began scaling back its military presence on the island. It was also faced with Dr Eric Williams’s nationalist demand for an end to American occupation of Chaguaramas on a 99-year lease. This dealt a blow to the national economy as, at one time there’d been some 25,000 US troops and workers on an island, and thousands of Trinidadians got jobs on the American bases (such as cutting and paving roads and runways, and putting up various ancillary and temporary structures), earning much better money than before. Also, with the presence of young, unattached sailors flaunting Yankee greenbacks, prostitution flourished. By the mid-20th century, there was a reduced but still significant number of young US sailors on the island willing to pay for female companionship and entertainment. In 1956, Sparrow, still a fledgling singer, took inspiration from the scenario to turn rejection into opportunity: “The tune in my head. And when the Yankees, coincidentally, had to leave, I got the idea (for the Jean and Dinah calypso) one time. And it wasn’t very difficult to use the same characters." Well, the girls in town feeling bad No more Yankees in Trinidad They going to close down the base for good Them girls have to make out how they could Brother, is now they park up in town In for a penny, and in for a pound Believe me, it's competition for so Trouble in the town when the price drop low. With Jean and Dinah (Yankee Gone), Sparrow's first hit was born. His prize for winning the 1956 Calypso King title was only $40. The paltry sum (the winner of the Carnival Queen beauty contest won $7,500) inspired his next song,Carnival Boycott, in protest for fairer pay for calypsonians. Other singers followed him and together they formed the Carnival Development Committee. Such victory and influence were what Sparrow could only have dreamt of even a year before, in 1955, when he offered up three calypsoes: The High Cost of Living, Ruby Where the Baby Disappear?, and Racetrack Scandal. The High Cost of Living was the signal of a career replete with social commentary on life in the country. The high cost of living Higher than a mountain People like me and you so Just have to stand up And watch the goods at Hi-Lo. That Jean and Dinah would help propel him to Calypso King throne was somewhat unexpected, Sparrow said on Calypso Showcase. “When I went up there I really wasn’t too particular about winning. I’d been with calypsonians who said they’d been up there four times, seven times, and never win. So when I got my break there, I said, 'Well, if I don’t win I will have another chance.' So I just went out there and let it all hang out and throw up my hat in the air and carried on. When the people started to react, I said I must be doing something good... From the first verse the stands were in an uproar...'' The Calypso King victory was followed by Road March dominance. Sparrow was not the first calypsonian to tackle the Yankee withdrawal from Trinidad. The topic had previously been explored in the post-1945 period by Lord Kitchener, Lord Invader, Lord Beginner, Roaring Lion, Mighty Growler, and others. Invader’s most famous calypso about the Yankees in Trinidad was one he composed with Lionel Belasco, Rum and Coca Cola, a song later covered illegally in a whitewashed version by the American singing trio The Andrews Sisters. Sparrow’s take on the topic was adapted by American film star Robert Mitchum, who released a version of Jean and Dinah on his 1957 hit album Calypso…is like so. Dr Gordon Rohlehr, in his seminal 1990 book Calypso and Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad, wrote that it was remarkable that Sparrow was able to resuscitate the topic a full decade later. He said it is likely that the calypso made its impact through Sparrow’s personality: his youth, vigour, and confidence, and the sense that he represented the newness of the time. The years of Little Sparrow Sparrow, born Slinger Francisco in Grenada on July 9, 1935, came to Trinidad as a child. His mother Clarisse brought the 18-month-old Francisco and his elder brother on a small boat, his father having relocated here in 1937 in search of a better life for the family. “In those days, Trinidad was seen as the America of the Caribbean,” Sparrow explained. “People came seeking a better lot in life.” Slinger’s first stage performance of a calypso came at age 13 when his teacher at Newtown Boys’ RC School, Carl Jadunath, allowed him to sing one at a school concert. He had been introduced to popular music and calypso through the vinyl records his father played on the family gramophone. As a teenager, he and his friends would gather under the sole neighbourhood light pole at Four Roads, Diego Martin, to sing in mock competitions. On leaving school, he worked for a while for the government Control Board. But, the lure of the stage took him to perform calypso at nights at Lotus Club, and he found the gigs became the better-paid job. At 19, he ignored his father’s remonstration to “get a real job,” rejected the $50-a-month job that his mother had lined up for him, and announced his intention to sing calypso for a living. His first performance as a Carnival singer came in 1954 with The Parrot and the Monkey. His first performing name was Little Sparrow, which was the result of the ribbing he got from other calypsonians about his quick, energetic movements, flitting across the stage at the Old Brigade Tent. Sparrow recalled, “When I started singing, the bands were still using acoustic instruments and the singers would stand flat-footed, making a point or accusing someone in the crowd with the pointing of a finger, but mostly they stood motionless. When I sing, I get excited and move around, much like (American soul singer) James Brown, and this was new to them. The older singers said, 'Why don't you just sing instead of moving around like a little Sparrow?' It was said as a joke, but the name stuck.” Eventually, as the young calypsonian gained popularity for singing his own songs and not from the repertoire the calypso greats, Little Sparrow morphed into Mighty Sparrow. Jean and Dinah became the first of Mighty Sparrow’s eight Road March victories, and helped win him the first of his eight Calypso Monarch titles. Sparrow rewarded his parents with a meteoric rise in the calypso world, establishing himself as one of the greatest all-round calypsonians of all time. Jean and Dinah is now part of Trinidad folklore and history, and arguably one of the greatest calypsoes ever written.
Poet and writer ANDRE BAGOO reviews Ah Wanna Fall, a play on the Mighty Spoiler, performed at Newtown Playboys Pan Theatre in Port of Spain. KAISO and theatre go hand in hand. What is a calypso if not a dramatic monologue? Or a dramatic presentation in song? In the 1930s, a special genre of theatre called the “calypso drama” rose to prominence. These musical playlets became popular, came to be regarded as containing the seeds, potentially, of a national theatre. Such a theatre may still be an elusive dream, but the immersive experience of Ah Wanna Fall brings us closer. Rawle Gibbons’ play about the Mighty Spoiler draws attention to the blurred lines between calypso and theatre; performance and real life; history and lived experience. Director Eugene Williams’ production, billed as a musical, is staged in a panyard. We enter a well-known space expecting to see pan players rehearsing musical arrangements. We come close, getting a live band that churns out 46 calypso classics by figures such as Lord Kitchener, Spoiler, Wonder, Panther, Dictator, Killer, Pharaoh, Lord Blakie, Lord Invader, Commander, Pretender, and Duke of Iron. Playwright Gibbons threads a narrative around the songs, but the star is the music. From the very beginning, it’s clear the calypsoes of yesteryear maintain their relevance. Little has changed since the post-World War II era. So in Professor Kitchener we hear: I am tired reading cases about murderers Every day, every day upon the newspapers Is either Sam kill Johnny or Johnny kill Joe Is like a murder competition everywhere you go Overall, this production works as a kind of revue of vintage kaiso. Because the audience is expected to sing the refrains, the calypsoes take on special dramatic force. The fourth wall is removed. But there are meta-elements too. The play’s story is set at a bar. And in this production at the Newtown Playboys Pan Theatre (it was previously staged at Queen’s Hall in 1992), the actual bar is turned into the bar in the story. During the intermission we buy drinks where the characters are served. We’re in their world. Newtown, Port of Spain, works well as a location for this production, perhaps because the area has architectural features reminiscent of the post-war period, perhaps because of its role in the story of pan. Perhaps because it’s not far from the Mighty Spoiler’s unmarked grave. (Last Friday, the cast placed a tombstone in Spoiler's – Theophilus Phillip– memory at the Woodbrook Cemetery.) “Newtown presents a conjunction of histories,” Gibbons says in a note to the production. “Our performance of memory is in defiance of a culture of what may be called conscious amnesia…With this production we launch a campaign for the reclamation, not so much of Spoiler, but ourselves.” Director Williams calls the production “an invocation of cultural memory." “My greatest fascination with the play, though, was the fact that pivotal to its performative universe is The Mighty Spoiler – the enigmatic fantasist,” Williams says. Spoiler, described by Kitchener as “the best”; whose eternal chorus was “I wanna fall”; and in whose name Derek Walcott penned The Spoiler’s Return, a curse poem to Trinidad in which Spoiler comes back to life and wryly declares: “I decompose, but composing still” and “Hell is a city much like Port of Spain.” On that note, a few problems. Some sections of the latest production dealing with race and gender are tone deaf. The narrative thread is eventually eaten whole by the songs – fitting for those who just want to sing, disappointing for those invested in the story. The second half feels simultaneously rushed and too long. That’s a hard thing to achieve. And there were distracting audio problems on the night I attended. But the cast is excellent and the production well-rehearsed. The most compelling performances are by scene-stealing minor characters such as those brought to life by a turbo-charged Tishanna Williams (Imelda) and a hilarious David Bereaux (Sales). Overall, Ah Wanna Fall will make you fall for calypso all over again. The final show is today at 6 pm.
Ballroom can carry two different meanings. First, it can refer to a social event in which one can dance at leisure and in time to the music. The other meaning relates to technique, skills and taking deep gulps of breath off stage. In other words, the latter is a sport and the former is for enjoyment. Alec Lazo, a US-based ballroom dancer, can attest to this. He is a ballroom dance-sport professional but also enjoys a good strut across the room without the pressure. “The amount of energy and what it takes to look effortless, it’s unbelievable – to give it an illusion that it’s fine when we are back stage, bending over to catch our breaths,” he said. Competitive ballroom dancing consists of four main styles – the American rhythm section which include the salsa, merengue and cha-cha-cha as well as the waltz, foxtrot and tango. Lazo was in TT recently, representing Dance Vision International Dance Association (DVIDA), to observe and train dance tutors at Eugene Joseph’s Trinidad Dance Theatre in San Fernando. DVIDA is the governing body for the syllabus the Trinidad Dance Theatre follows. [caption id="attachment_791933" align="alignnone" width="768"] Eugene Joseph of the Trinidad Dance Theatre, and Alec Lazo, centre with Trinidad Dance Theatre instructors from left, Alicia Scoon, Anissa Mohan, Jessica Joseph and Nickell Joseph. -[/caption] His second visit to Trinidad in two years, Lazo sees potential for local dancers to participate in competitive dancing. “Eugene Joseph’s curriculum is so fabulous that his dancers could go to the United States and do well. The ballroom dance world is amazingly huge. People understand it’s an accepted profession,” Lazo remarked. Lazo was introduced to the art of ballroom dancing when he was 14. He saw a group of girls dancing and was curious to know what was happening. “I was asked ‘you wanna dance?’ And I replied, ‘sure.’” he recalled. His decision to make dancing his full-time profession was confusing to his Cuban parents. “Why do you want to dance? We dance,” he laughed. During his career, which has spanned 30 years, he captured several titles in many dance-sport styles including grand national rhythm and smooth champion. He is also a teacher, an examiner as well as owner and managing director of the Paramount ballroom in Florida.
It’s in her blood. Journalism that is. Or so it seems to Nicole Dookie. She thought she could put it on hold because as the mother of two children, her family needed her. But she felt adrift; she needed to create. Tearing herself away from the media permanently was simply not an option. Dookie, 32, has been a media practitioner for more than 13 years. She has worked in all arms of the media, from radio to television to print. She also has an ABMA (UK) Diploma in Professional Journalism through Sital College of Tertiary Education. She has freelanced with the Government Information Services Limited (GISL) through Vision Com Productions and IETV, and currently works at radio station 103.1 FM. A resident of Oropune Gardens, Piarco, she is a contributing writer/columnist to the community website, oropunegardens.com. Dookie served for two consecutive terms as the public relations officer of the Oropune Gardens Village Council, working alongside her grandfather and the group’s vice president, the late Boysie "Drums" Ramoutar. Her media experience and her love for local Indian music – particularly chutney and chutney soca – saw her branching off in a new direction: Chutney Soca News. What began as a page on the social media site Facebook four years ago, is now a branded platform for Indian entertainment. Dookie told WMN, "It really just started as a means to reach out to our local artistes, gather content, write an article and post it on the page. Then it got bigger and sort of outgrew itself. I began looking at adding other elements, like coverage of related events, one-on-one interviews, etc It slowly evolved and within one year the opportunity for television came." Sending a link to her page, Dookie reached out to O'Brian Haynes of Synergy TV. Shortly after, the two met and Dookie's "baby" was aired on the station. [caption id="attachment_791925" align="alignnone" width="706"] Nicole Dookie has created Chutney Soca News, a platform for talented artistes. -[/caption] During the show's first season, Dookie, reached out to Vashtie Doorga of Doorga Entertainment in Canada and the two introduced Chutney Soca News-North America. This segment exposed the local audience to Chutney related events in Canada on foreign artistes. Not one to do things halfway, Dookie also connected with Bacchanal Radio, an online radio station based in Trinidad with a large foreign audience. Each week, Bacchanal Radio aired an episode of the show. The show had two successful seasons on Synergy, but the death of her husband, Shaheed Mohammed, forced Dookie to take a break. "I had taken a decision over a year before to devote more of my time to my family and here I was having to deal with a grief so profound, that I simply could not do as before and continue in the media. I needed that time away, that space to be. To be able to pick up the pieces and start over, if not for myself, for my children," she said wistfully. After a six-month hiatus, it was time to revive the brand. To regain the attention of her audience, Dookie, formed a small team, which attended events and streamed live performances via her platform. She recalled for WMN, the rapid growth of her audience, as Chutney Soca News had already been a recognised brand among artistes, DJs, promoters and the like. Determined to reach an even wider audience, Dookie established a partnership with We Ting radio out of Florida. An online station, We Ting began promoting Chutney Soca News on its Facebook live streams. Then Dookie got the opportunity, although short-lived, together with We Ting radio, to showcase her brand on TTEN TV, where she conducted interviews with North American as well as local artistes. Dookie told WMN she initially created the platform out of "nothing but pure love and appreciation for the music." "I have seen many young artistes struggling to get their music out and I wanted to try to be a voice for them. Too many times, I have heard people criticise chutney soca artistes. This though, is like no other music genre, while all offered may not be what one might classify a ‘good’ song or a hit, the main thing is to appreciate their efforts in the industry. “They do it because they love their culture. Nobody knows the sacrifices they make or how much money they spend on music productions. I felt compelled to, as if it's my duty, to seek to get them the appreciation, love and respect they deserve," she said. While, she said, she wouldn't change her decision for any other, Dookie admitted that it has taken its toll on her emotionally. As a single parent, she has the responsibility of ensuring adequate support and supervision for her two small children, Ameer, nine, and five-year-old Amelia. Building her brand often requires her to be away from home for long hours and mostly at night. However, she is supported by her “ever-willing” mother, Maltie Dookie, other family members and friends. She attributed some of her inner strength to the example of her mom, who also became a single parent of two, when Dookie was 11 and her father, Ramlal Dookie died. Dookie takes pride in her creation and the brand that she has built. "My hard work, my team's dedication, reflects in the number of shares, likes, comments, messages and phone calls we get daily. We have people from across the globe, contacting the page to express their interest in our music, in our culture and whatever is showcased on Chutney Soca News. It feels good, as we celebrate our fourth year, knowing we are reaching a wider audience and intend to reach even more," she said. As for what more to expect from Chutney Soca News, Dookie said, she is gearing up for the upcoming chutney soca season come Carnival 2020. She said plans are already in motion, which will soon be revealed to all who would simply visit, comment, like and share Chutney Soca News.
The post Nicole Dookie takes chutney soca news to the world appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.
I met Keisha Butcher in October 2015 when I interviewed her at her office at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex for a feature in WMN's Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. As we talked about her tumultuous relationship with breast cancer, she looked at me with a pretty smile and said, "I'm sorry I can't give you the fairy tale ending you're probably looking for. I'm not in remission or anything of that sort. The tumour is still there. It's not getting any worse, but it's not getting better either." But I still expected a good ending and wasn't prepared for the news of her death on October 16. In fact, that very morning Facebook had reminded us that that day was Keisha and Carol Day, and that we had become friends on the social media platform exactly four years ago. "Look we!" I shared. She never responded. The following morning I learned of her demise. But we were more than just Facebook friends. During that first interview we had somehow connected and we both realised it. Maybe it was because we sensed each other's inner one-child syndrome struggle, maybe it was something else. But when the formalities were over and it was time for me to leave we automatically embraced each other. We never lost touch after that. "Who would have thought after one interview...it's just easy to talk to u!! I'm not always this friendly," she had once messaged after a discussion we had about men. I never saw any other side so I didn't believe her then. All I ever saw was a beautiful, intelligent woman with a sweet disposition and a fighting spirit. As time went by I got to see Keisha Butcher the mother, the daughter, the sibling, the attorney, the friend, the artist, the woman – not always friendly – but I still liked the person I saw. She was human. [caption id="attachment_791915" align="alignnone" width="945"] Keisha Butcher and her daughter. Acacia. Keisha succumbed to cancer on October 16, 2019. - JEFF K MAYERS[/caption] I received fairly regular updates on her ups and downs with the dreaded cancer. She never lost hope and found strength in her faith. "Hi. Season's Greetings!! Finished d chemo yesterday!! Had to shave my head last night as d hair started dropping Monday night. God is good. I'm rocking my bald head for now! Talk soon," she messaged on December 23, 2015. "Doing pretty good. Can't complain. Loving life and looking fwd to my 40th bday!!" she responded one of the many times I checked up on her. "Great. And if God is willing I will blow out my 85th bday candles...I hope u will do the story.....sure u will b at d party!!" she told me at another time, adding that I was at the top of the short list to write her biography when the time came. And the concern wasn't just one way. "I see you're not feeling too good," she observed one time I had a really bad flu. It was not the only time she had checked up on me. But our conversations were never just about cancer and sickness. Our children popped up in almost every discussion. "Going good. Responding well to the treatment. Hopefully to finish this particular treatment in one month's time! God is soooo good all the time. I am always amazed how he lovingly favours and looks out for me. Your son is the splitting image of you!!! You got no help, clearly...lol," she referred to a photo of my ten-year-old I had posted a few days earlier. "Hmmm. Between that and trying to parent a 14-year-old who needs my attention to focus on school, is active in netball...dropping, picking up etc...my head is spinning...but it's all good," she answered to a question on how she managed to keep up with everything. It was clear that her relationship with her daughter was one of the highlights of her life, and her love for and pride in knew no boundary. Even Acacia's "flaws" were a source of joy to her. "Acacia hates to rub my feet. I'm forever negotiating," she lamented with a chuckle after I had suggested she subject herself to a little pampering. On September 3, "Thanks for checking up," was the last thing Keisha ever said to me. I couldn't believe she was really gone. I still expected that fairy tale ending in which she would live to a ripe old age, or at least double 43. And if I feel so emotional about her death, I can only imagine how her parents, former parliamentarian Kenneth Butcher and president of the TT Netball Association Dr Patricia Butcher feel, having had to say goodbye to their young daughter so soon. I cannot even begin to imagine how Acacia is coping with the loss of her mother. My hope is that they can find comfort in the beautiful memories she took the time to make. Keisha was an advocate for breast health and encouraged women to take their health and wellness seriously by getting regular screenings, trying their best to practice a healthy lifestyle and asking lots of questions of their doctors. And not just in October, but all year round. It is sound advice. Rest well Keisha, and thanks for your friendship.
IT’S Sunday morning in Laventille, an elderly man flanked by about ten youths make their way to the Fernandes recreational field, along the Eastern Main Road, in the shadow of the company’s industrial estate. The man is coach Michael Paul, a well-known athletic enthusiast and this is a weekly ritual where he teaches youths not just about the beautiful game of football but also about life, good sportsmanship, being a respectable winner and a graceful loser. Among these youths is 15-year-old Phase Five, Beetham resident Fabien Ayres, who finds time to assist in the development of the younger talent in his community alongside Paul, his longtime coach and mentor. Ayres is a fourth form student, at St Anthony’s College, and despite his relatively young age he has already earned an impressive reputation as an attacking defender for his school’s football team. However, he believes he has much more to offer than his skill as an athlete and dreams of earning a scholarship to attend university in the US. Ayres has become a beacon of hope to his peers. Speaking with Sunday Newsday during a recent training session, Ayres said he enjoyed speaking with and mentoring younger players in the community and wanted them to know that despite their circumstances and environment, they each had a responsibility to improve themselves by realising their passion and pursuing it relentlessly. “It makes me feel good to be able to inspire or motivate others to make themselves better people. I don’t want them (youths) to let where they come from define them. “Just because you’re from a particular area doesn’t mean that place should define you. Be yourselves and realise what you’re passionate about.” Even as he continues to encourage and motivate others to be positive and push themselves towards greatness, Williams himself admits it can be tiring. While achieving some popularity in his school and his community, Ayres said he has had to face disappointment in the sport he loves, being sidelined at games and even failing to make the cut for a local football club he admired. [caption id="attachment_791910" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Fabien Ayres enjoys a rest during a training session at the Fernandes recreation grounds, Eastern Main Road, Laventille last Sunday. - Shane Superville[/caption] Although disappointing, he said these setbacks have fuelled his ambition to make himself not only a better player but a mature adult. He said one of the more sober reminders of his mortality and the path before him was the death of his friend and fellow St Anthony’s Tiger 14-year-old Luke Williams, who was shot and killed while at a St James liquor store in April. He said while tragic, Williams’ death was a reminder of the importance of making the right decisions and thinking for himself. “I was sad for a while. I would just think about it, but I eventually overcame it. It really made me think about what I had and I didn’t want to take any of my opportunities for granted. “Friends aren’t everything. Your parents are everything, they won’t ever lead you astray. That can happen unfortunately with friends sometimes, so it’s important to know this because a lot of youths tend to get carried away.” An aspiring businessman, he said while most secondary school football players were focusing on developing their athletic skills with the hopes of having a professional career, Ayres said he was more realistic in his approach and realised that even with his talent, there was need to think about his long term development and often encourages his peers to do the same. “The future isn’t guaranteed to anyone. There are new players coming out every year and despite how much skill or potential you have, an accident or an injury can happen and your athletic career is gone, so I always advise my friends to take their academics seriously.” Sunday Newsday spoke with Ayres’ father, Devon Ayres who also grew up and trained under the guidance of Michael Paul. The elder Ayres said while he did his best to instill values of discipline, resilience and humility in his son, he said his success and achievements both on and off the field were largely due to his own dedication and selfless work ethic. [caption id="attachment_791908" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Devon Ayres, left, enjoys a game of pass with his 16-year-old son Fabien during a training session at the Fernandes recreation ground, Eastern Main Road, Laventille. - Shane Superville[/caption] “He usually has a very strict regime that he follows six days a week. I’ve done my best to coach him and give him pointers during his training sessions and so on, but a lot of it is really due to his own need to be the best. He’s a real warrior.” Ayres said while he continues to support his son, he wishes other parents in the community could do the same with their own children, lamenting that while coaches like Paul and teachers would do their best to nurture talent and potential, it was ultimately the responsibility of parents to be there for their children. “It’s something you don’t see a lot of. Even with his schooling, he (Fabien) knows I don’t make joke about that. He goes to lessons, he goes to school and then he gets to play football. I take him seriously.” The younger Ayres is hopeful that he would be recruited by Florida State University when he gets older and develops himself further. More than just it’s athletic programme, he is eager to be part of some of the business and entrepreneurship classes they offer and dreams of opening up his own retail store one day. Some may say this is a too far ahead as he prepares for CSEC examinations next year, but for the 15-year-old student, nothing is too far away as he seeks to claim his own legacy as more than just a footballer.
YANNICK QUINTAL The TT Triathlon Federation hosted the 2019/20 National Primary and Secondary Schools Aquathlon Championships, at the National Aquatics Centre in Balmain, Couva yesterday, kicking off their sixth running of their annual school multi-sport series. The day kicked off with the primary school championships in the morning and the secondary schools took their turn to compete in the afternoon portion of the event. In the seven and under division, Farrah Phillips, of Dunross Preparatory School, came first overall with a time of four minutes. Michah Alexander, of St Peter’s Private School, finished first in the boys division and second overall and clocked in at four minutes and one second. Third place overall went to Sanae Reece from Bishop Anstey Junior (4:02).Reece placed second in the girls division. Third place for the boys was Lemuel Douglas (4:07), also out of Bishop Anstey Junior; and third place for the girls,International School’s Juliana Hadeed clocked in with 4:41 minutes. In the primary 8-9 boys division, Malachi Leach and Aiden Nixon finished first and second for Bishop Anstey Junior with Rafael Wan finishing third for the International School. Four of the top five finishers in the boys were from Bishop Anstey. Leach and Nixon both clocked in at five minutes and 24 seconds while, Wan stopped the clock at five minutes and 40 seconds. [caption id="attachment_791905" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Members of the Holistic primary school placed second at the TTTF's Schools Aquathlon Championships,yesterday. - JEFF K MAYERS[/caption] In the 8-9 girls division, it was Taylor Marchan leading the charge for St Monica’s Preparatory with a time of five minutes 45 seconds. Samanta de Freitas (5:53) from Bishop Anstey finished second and Jodie-Marie Riley (5:56) from St Monica’s Prep came third. Three of the top five finishers were from St Monica’s. In the primary boys 10-11 division, Adam Scoon, of St Monica’s Preparatory, took the top spot out of a field of 34 competitors with a time of eight minutes and 58 seconds. Jaden Mills from Brishop Anstey Junior (9:16) took the second spot and Alejandro Agard (9:39), out of Newtown Boys RC, rounded off the top 3. In the girls 10-11 division, Gianna Pichery representing Holy Name Preparatory placed first in a time of ten minutes and 13 seconds. Rese Ashe (10:58) out of St Xavier’s Private took second place while, Maleah Butler (11:02) of Dunross came third. In the secondary schools competition, in the 13 and under group, Zachary Anthony led a clean sweep of the overall top four finishers represented by Fatima College with a time of 14 minutes and 54 seconds. Shaelan Reece (15:25) finished second. Dante Pichery (16:01) finished third. Jenae Price, of Providence Girls, finished first in the girls division with a time of 17 minutes and 29 seconds. Chelsea Fuller (17:33) and Alyssa Cheekes (17:36) took second and third for St Joseph’s Convent (POS). In the 14-15 division, Josh Fuller finished first overall for Fatima College with a time of 20 minutes 49 seconds. Rebecca Lezama finished second overall and the highest finishing female with a time of 22 minutes 53 seconds. Rounding off the top three for the boys are Anthony Martinez (22:59) finishing second for Fatima College (third overall) and Alec Mendes (23:29) taking third place (fourth overall). For the girls, Isis Gaskin (24:45) finished second (5th overall) representing Bishops Anstey East. Mikelle Cedeno (26:34) took 3rd (8th overall). [caption id="attachment_791904" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Graeme Toussaint-Waithe cools down during the 16 and over race of the TTTF School Aquathlon Champs, at the Aquatic Centre, Couva,yesterday. Graeme placed 7th overall. - JEFF K MAYERS[/caption] In the 16 and Over Division, Troy Llanos of Fatima College placed first overall with a time of 26 minutes and 19 seconds. Kareem Mason (26:52) out of St Mary’s College took 2nd and Chad Hosein (27:10) finished third representing Presentation College, Chaguanas. In the girls division, Zahra Gaskin finished 1st (12th overall) with a time of 30 minutes and 54 seconds. St. Joseph’s Convent took the rest of the podium with Kristen Scott (36:01) and Rachel Grosberg (36:01) finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively (19th and 20th overall).
NATIONAL youth player and prolific Presentation College San Fernando striker, Jaiye Sheppard, scored the Lions’ only item in their 1-0 win over Trinity College East during match day 12 in the Secondary Schools’ Football League yesterday.
With the win, Presentation maintained pressure on league leaders and southern rivals Naparima, who were on a bye this round. The two teams will play at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, on Wednesday.
With Naparima on a bye, St Anthony’s College made crucial ground after recording a 4-1 victory over Malick Secondary, putting the “Tigers” three points behind in second place.
Presentation College now sit four points adrift of the lead but remain with a precious match in hand.
Meanwhile, St Mary’s succumbed to a humiliating 5-0 defeat at home to Carapichaima East Secondary, put themselves further into the relegation abyss.
St Mary’s, as with Trinity College Moka, have now won just one of their 11 matches this season. St Mary’s’s defensive woes have consistently competed this season with an ineffective attack, which scored just five goals this campaign.
Trinity College Moka’s loss, 1-0, was to East Mucurapo Secondary’s advantage as moved eight points behind, and with a shot, albeit long, of getting back into the title hunt.
In other results, coach Nigel Grosvenor’s Queen’s Royal College got a much-needed win, defeating relegation threatened St Benedict’s 1-0, continuing their form from the 4-3 victory over Trinity Moka a week ago.
Action will resume on Wednesday with round 13. Speyside Secondary are on a bye.
Pleasantville Sec 3 vs Speyside Sec 1
Malick 1 vs St Anthony’s College 4
St Mary’s College 0 vs Carapichaima East 5
Trinity College Moka 2 vs Mucurapo East Sec 5
St Benedict’s College 0 vs Queen’s Royal College 1
San Juan Sec 3 vs St Augustine Sec 1
Presentation College 1 vs Trinity College East 0
Naparima – Bye
Presentation San F’do*10*8*1*1*26*6*25
San Juan North Sec*11*5*2*4*26*10*17
St Augustine Sec*11*3*4*4*26*21*13
St Mary’s Colleghe*11*1*9*1*5*39*4
Queen’s Royal College vs Malick Secondary, QRC Ground
Presentation College vs Naparima College, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella
San Juan North Secondary vs St Anthony’s College
Carapichaima East Secondary vs St Benedict’s College, Carapichaima East Ground
East Mucurapo vs St Mary’s College, Fatima College Ground
St Augustine Secondary vs Trinity College Moka, St Augustine Ground
Pleasantville Secondary vs Trinity College East, Pleasantville
OVER 175 athletes, coaches, partners, officials and volunteers will take to Last Cuevas Beach on Sunday for the Special Olympics of TT's (SOTT) fourth Beach Games, bringing a close to a series of events involving stakeholder of Special Olympics International (SOI). The Beach Games, for competitors with intellectual disabilities, will involve an open-water swim, beach volleyball, an aquathlon, beach football, bocce and powerlifting. It will run from 8.30am-4 pm. SOTT described the culminating Beach Games as the "provision of beach sports as an option to increase the sports offered to athletes with intellectual disabilities and an avenue to educate the members of the public about persons with intellectual disabilities." It is being hosted in collaboration with the Beach Soccer Association of TT, TT Volleyball Federation, Trinity Masters Swim Club, TT Aquatics Swim Club and several Lions Clubs. Kester Edwards, a veteran SOTT athlete, will lead a team from Special Olympics International (SOI) in preparation for the 2020 Special Olympics Regional Beach Games. Edwards is a former member of the SOI board and a member of the first class of Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers. Global Messengers are Special Olympics athletes who spread the message and vision of the movement, and the benefits they have gained by participating in Special Olympics. He is currently the manager of sport and development at Special Olympics in Washington DC. According to SOTT, he played a crucial role in the body's adoption of open-water swimming to its list of sports. Edwards will be accompanied by the US Olympic long-jump record-holder and Special Olympics ambassador Bob Beamon. Beamon was expected to arrive in TT last evening. He will host clinics for local Special Olympics athletes and host a cocktail reception for SOTT stakeholders on Friday night. Kester, Beamon and other members of SOI are expected to pay courtesy calls on Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, TTOC president Brian Lewis and other heads of local national sporting organisations in an effort to garner support for SOTT and the 2020 Regional Beach Games. Among the other activities carded for the week is a regional unified sports beach games clinic for local and regional coaches, to be hosted at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, on Friday and Saturday. Its aim is to equip local and regional Special Olympics coaches with tools and skills needed to prepare athletes for competition in the various beach sports events and how to stage the beach games. The Beach Games is part of SOTT’s 2019 Community Sports Training Programme, which is sponsored by the Digicel Foundation.
IN 2014, leading up to the 2015 general elections, two hitmen were offered US$2 million to assassinate the opposition leader – Dr Keith Rowley.
On Friday night, Rowley – the Prime Minister – revealed the plot to PNM supporters during a post-budget political meeting at Piggott Corner, Belmont.
Police sources confirmed the report, and disclosed the offer to the hitmen, adding Rowley was not the only target at the time. Two senior PNM campaign managers, one a current government minister, was also on the hit list. There was no information on how much the lives of the two others were valued by those who wanted them dead.
Rowley first made this claims back in 2015 at the PNM’s general election campaign launch at Market Square, Scarborough and linked the plot to the government of the day – the People's Partnership coalition led by the UNC.
His comments were: “I said on a platform in Trinidad a few months ago, for the first time in my career of over 30 years, I feared for my personal safety. Lo and behold, as I am speaking to you now, I am surrounded by people who you pay to protect me from people who will have me killed. First time in TT, the opposition leader is under attack from the government, and when I am not under attack from their friends who they hire to kill me, I am under attack from their friends who they hire to lie about me.”
Addressing the lies then, Rowley said the mother of one of his son’s prior to his marriage was approached and offered money to swear to an affidavit that he had raped her and their son was born out of the rape.
On Friday, in attempt to dismiss criticism of his renewed allegations before they arose, Rowley reminded the crowd that in 1995, attorney general Selwyn Richardson was killed outside his Cascade home – the murder remains unsolved.
“They were so desperate to remove me from the line up in 2015 (general election) that on two occasions they hired a killer to kill me. The first killer refused and went and told a government official. The government official came and told us. We told the police. While dealing with that, they went and found another person. He too refused. There is honour among thieves in this country. It appears as though there is honour among killers too,” he said.
Rowley also revealed a recent plot to murder Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. "That is why one of the first meetings I had... in Whitehall was to determine how to protect the Attorney General because persons are paid money to kill him...I tell you this not because I’m being irresponsible, it’s because I want you to know. You can’t say you don’t know. I want you to know because I am the chairman of the National Security Council.”
Rowley alleged that it was his stance against corruption that fuelled the plot against him. A criminologist, who asked not to be named, said the murder of an opposition leader could alter the political landscape.
"Many people will think that there is no use in that (killing an opposition leader) but if you have a keen sense of a shift in political regime, and there are some things that you may no longer be able to do, crime wise, of course, that you suspect this incoming person will stop, then it is logical for such a person to be removed, in whatever way possible," said the source.
Al-Rawi, who was not present at the meeting, told Sunday Newsday via WhatsApp that the threat on his life is real. He said: “I can confirm the truth of the PM's statements – law enforcement agencies uncovered and have been dealing with the death threats against me – I’d prefer however not to say anything further on the matter.”
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said also confirmed Al-Rawi and Rowley’s lives were at risk and the necessary precautions were taken to protect them. He received “a few months ago”, the report of the threat against Al-Rawi. Griffith said when he was he was national security minister, in 2014, he received information on a plot to kill Rowley and increased Special Branch security around him.
Responding to the claims, Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday said while he is concerned about threats made against anyone, he believes the PM was "spinning away like (bowler) Sunil Narine" as he attempted to deflect from the sale of the Petrotrin refinery to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union.
Moonilal said no one should politicise murder threats and the matter should have been dealt with privately, not as a way to garner sympathy or anger from supporters.
"It is unbecoming, irresponsible and reckless," Moonilal said adding that the PM "under the cover of darkness" made scandalous statements.
Kamla, PP ministers death threats
Rowley’s claim that his life was under threat is not the first time that a senior politician publicly stated that their life was at risk. In November 2011, the prime minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said there was a plot to destabilise the country through a plot to kill her, attorney general Anand Ramlogan, housing minister Moonilal and local government minister Chandresh Sharma.
Senior police yesterday said after an investigation into the plot against Persad-Bissessar and her ministers, it was considered not as “serious” as the plot against Rowley. The officers in elite investigative units reported that it was not that the plot against the the four was false but it could have been summed up as an “emotional outburst” – whereas the threat against Rowley had “more meat on it” given that their information uncovered attempts to hire killers. The status of the investigation remains “pending”, according to the sources.
In the wake of the plot against Persad-Bissessar, there were over a dozen arrests, including of former members of the protective services. However, after they were interviewed all of the suspects were released without charge. The men who were approached to murder Rowley were never arrested and, sources said, remain “in the free world”.
Divali Nagar 2019 was able to have “its best opening yet” after overcoming a last minute, major legal hurdle which threatened the start of the annual event in Chaguanas on Friday evening. Speaking about a High Court action brought by a tenant, president of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) Dr Deokienanan Sharma described the lawsuit as “a very sad event indeed," adding, “I do pray that those who caused it will see the light." “Thanks to God and the excellent lawyers of Fortis Chambers. The matter was thrown out only at 5 pm this afternoon (Friday),” he said. One of the NCIC attorney’s, Kiel Taklalsingh, explained that the matter surrounded a tenant who claimed to have had an oral agreement to occupy a certain spot at the Nagar site. This was, however, denied by the NCIC giving rise to an injunction to prevent eviction of the tenant. This was thrown out by Justice Margaret Mohammed, who held that the injunction should not be granted in the public interest, especially at such a late stage. NCIC PRO Surujdeo Mangaroo said although Nagar started on a sad note, members held their heads high and delivered the best opening yet. "This event is planned one year in advance and we work tirelessly to ensure we improve our standards annually," Mangaroo said At the event itself, Sharma praised pundit Dr Rampersad Parasram, the very first chairman of Divali Nagar. Parasram, he said, has risen to become the Dharmacharya or spiritual head of the Maha Sabha, a body that Sharma described as the largest and most influential Hindu organisation in TT. [caption id="attachment_791893" align="alignnone" width="1024"] First Citizens Dragon Boys tassa group entertain the audience at the opening of the Divali celebrations at the NCIC Nagar, Chaguanas on Friday night. PHOTOS BY ELLIOT FRANCOIS -[/caption] He outlined the aim of the NCIC to educate Indo-Trinidadians – and the wider community – of the greatness of the culture and to “learn preserve and propagate for fear of losing it all.” "For losing it all will be the greatest tragedy to befall the Indo Trinidadian community," he said. “ Thanks to the Maha Sabha, the NCIC, and so many other organisations, the culture of the Indo-Trinidadian has largely survived and consolidated after the struggles during the 175 years of arrival to this country, despite very strong alternative influences.” Sharma said the food courts are the most visited booths at Divali Nagar annually. This year, the council also introduced the roof-top Ramleela display which will feature the leading theatre groups in TT. Next year, Sharma said, marks the 100th anniversary of the closure of the indentureship scheme where the last of the contracted East Indians finally walked off estates as totally free individuals, free to develop their lives as they saw fit. The guest of honour was Dr Laxmi Persaud, a US-based Trinidadian recognised by the NCIC as an accomplished author and journalist. Persaud said education enables people to see the world more clearly, helping them also to break out of previous prejudices. "Like Mother Lakshmi education spreads light into the darkest corners of the world," Persaud said "In these times of fake news and putting up walls, In these times of international tribalism, it is even more important to emphasise the power of education so as to encourage people to break down barriers and to keep their minds open to new ideas and possibilities," she said. To this end, she said, the government should do all it can to ensure TT has the best scholars and the best teachers. "They should ensure that teaching as a profession is highly regarded and attracts the very best minds to it," she stated.
No one will prevent Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd from acquiring the refinery of former state oil company Petrotrin, Oil Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget strongly stated, on Friday. Yesterday marked the one-month deadline, given by the government, for Patriotic – which bid US$700 million for the refinery – to submit the 10-point requirement to the evaluation committee for the completion of the acquisition process. Patriotic has to present a draft sales and purchase agreement and other commercial agreements, inclusive of crude handling, domestic fuel supply, natural gas supply, product off-take and transition support, a business plan and a statement of fiscal incentives or tax concessions. They must also provide a refinery start-up plan, a suitable staffing plan, proof of qualification and an approach to any historical environmental liabilities. Confirmation of its ability to finance the purchase of the refinery must also be submitted along with approval from the Patriotic board of directors. The findings must be forwarded to the government in two weeks. Patriotic has almost finished gathering the required documents to complete the final stage for the acquisition, Roget told the media at the opening of the OWTU's Tobago office in Scarborough. He said the company has had no difficulties putting the documents together. “We will close the process successfully and begin the operations of the refinery after add the requisite repairs are done,” he said. “We are well on the way to ensure we continue and complete the process of acquisition. When that is done, we will continue to have a reliable supply of fuel for TT.” He said Patriotic will not be distracted by the UNC's allegations about the acquisition of the refinery, which he described as “baseless and full of mischief.” He said he was confident the claims will not affect the agreement between Patriotic and the government. “We take the acquisition very seriously and Patriotic is prepared to do what is necessary to clear its name,” he said. “The financiers would have seen the benefit. The cogent nature of the business plan we would have put together and the potential of that entity to deliver. It placed us at an advantageous position to talk with all of those people who have the finance to support us going forward.” Last week, UNC Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal claimed to have found a paper trail linking the the Prime Minister's close friend and head of A&V Drilling Vidya Deokiesingh to government's acceptance of Patriotic's bid for the refinery. He also raised questions about a meeting with CEO of investment firm, SunStone Equity, John Van Dyke, MSJ leader David Abdulah and Roget in relation to the deal. Van Dyke told Newsday, last week, the company did advise the OWTU on financing for the bid but no longer has ties with the union or Patriotic, and instead said the operations of Petrotrin by previous management should be investigated. On September 19, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced Government had selected Patriotic as the preferred bidder for the refinery. On Friday, Roget said if the government had followed a previous proposal of restructuring the refinery, “we would not have been in this situation that we are in currently." He said it was always the union’s plan to buy the refinery and if this had been done the “pain and suffering to thousands of people including workers” after the closure of the refinery could have been avoided.
Thieves broke in the Point Fortin home of Housing Minister Edmund Dillon and left with pieces from cutlery sets, including knives and forks, and two televisions.
Police said Dillon’s housekeeper discovered the house broken into and the items missing on Friday morning. The retired major general is the Point Fortin MP and was previously the national security minister.
The police report said the housekeeper secured the house at Clifton Hill, about three weeks ago, and left. At about 10 am on Friday, she returned and saw the burglar-proof to a window at the back of the house cut.
The two televisions, as well as the cutlery , have an estimated value of $5,000.
Up to yesterday, no one has been arrested. Point Fortin CID is investigating.
FOR the first time, according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO), an individual economic census will be conducted in Tobago. It is scheduled for 2020. An economic census is a directory consisting of statistics of businesses within a country. Speaking with media on Friday, at its Port of Spain headquarters, the CSO's director of statistics Sean O'Brien said this is being done as Tobago has "unique needs." He said the organisation is working towards strengthening its partnership with the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). "A lot of the data we collect, we collect it for TT. And some of the designs at present cannot foster separate national data. But because of the idiosyncrasies of the Tobago economic environment, and because the THA is so integrated into the Tobago socio-economic climate, we recognise the need to forge greater partnership with them." The data collected by the CSO is usually published for TT overall, since it is one country, and not for each island. O'Brien said the CSO will provide the equipment and infrastructure to conduct the census as the THA is a "major element" of the national statistic system.
After six long years the remains of at least 60 of the country’s First Peoples were returned to their resting place at the Red House. There were tears and solemn faces yesterday during the reinterment ceremony of indigenous human remains which were removed during the restoration of the Red House in 2013. Shamans and representatives of Amerindians from Suriname, Guyana, Guatemala, Venezuela, Dominica, Canada, and the US participated in the ceremony. They called to the Great Spirits to give peace and rest to the ancestors, and that they continue to guide the decedents through dreams and visions. The ceremony also included songs and the use of tobacco, incense, maracas (chac-chacs), and consecrated water. The bones were laid out in boxes around the edges of the tomb and Anesta Jagendorst, a shaman from Suriname, blessed the bones. The boxes were emptied and the bones laid out among clay containers on the floor of the concrete tomb by members of the First Peoples. As a backhoe covered the bones in a layer of dirt, Jagendorst experienced a “manifestation.” She repeatedly shouted “Thank you!” and “This is my day!” as she slipped to the muddy ground and vacillated between seeming unconsciousness and vigour. She was surrounded by others, including TT’s new Carib Queen Nona Aquan, who tried to restore and calm her. In his address, First Peoples chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez said while people may see the discovery of the remains and artifacts as an accident, to the indigenous people of TT it was seen as ancestors communicating to them. “Some may look at this Ceremony as something that does not matter, neither important nor significant. But just as most of us treat our dead with respect, and use the appropriate rituals in their own tradition, we feel very strongly that the remains of our ancestors should be respected and treated likewise... “The reinterment of these human remains has provided a sense of peace, shelter and security for the First Peoples. At the same time it has opened a door of opportunity for our challenges and needs to be expressed.” [caption id="attachment_791881" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Members of the First Peoples perform rituals
where the remains of indigenous humans were once more laid to rest, yesterday, at the site of the Red House where they were discovered during restoration works. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE - ANGELO_MARCELLE[/caption] He said he is reconsidering the First Peoples’ Day of Recognition as a one-off holiday and instead calling for a permanent holiday on October 14. He said although his people recognised it, members were unable to celebrate because they have to attend work and school. He said the national community forgot about the day and its meaning while others were not even aware there was such a day. At one point Bharath-Hernandez had trouble finishing his speech and requested PNM PRO, and member of the First Peoples, Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing, continue reading on his behalf. She said other challenges included Government granting land in Arima to the First Peoples rather than giving them a lease, the creation of an independent seat in some local government councils for members of the indigenous community, and reparations. She said addressing above concerns would be considered a form of reparation. He called for the revival of the Reparations Committee and government’s assistance in establishing a Heritage Village to empower the indigenous community to preserve and build on their cultural traditions. On the topic of the Christopher Colombus statue, she said Bharath-Hernandez did not understand how its removal would contribute to the upliftment and development of the First Peoples. “While he stands there someone can always point to him and recall the atrocities committed against the First Peoples as a result of the encounter. When you erase the landscape there is nothing there to remind people of the demise of our First Peoples. So as a result people, over time, will forget because of omission.” [caption id="attachment_791882" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Anesta Gagendurst of Suyriname, is secured as she goes into a state of mourning at the reinterment ceremony of indigenous human remains. - ANGELO_MARCELLE[/caption] However she said if the removal was a catalyst for the promised monument to be erected over the remains at the Red House, they would support the statue’s removal. She unveiled a miniature of the proposed monument called The Blood of the First Peoples. “It is a tribute in recognition of the contribution and sacrifices of the First Peoples who built the foundation of out homeland Cairi and fought to defend it against colonisers.” Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat also gave the First Peoples the new national flower, the Double Chaconia, to be planted on their land in Arima. He said First Peoples around the world had been fighting for equality and their rights, and the next stage was preeminence. “I hope that we accelerate and move to the discussion of preeminence, about how we as the second people treat and deal with the first Peoples.” [caption id="attachment_791880" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Carib Queen Nona López Calderón Galera Moreno Aquan throws dirt on the remains of her ancestors at the reinterment ceremony of indigenous peoples at the Red House, Port of Spain.
PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE
- ANGELO_MARCELLE[/caption] Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the community’s rights were clearly stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which as adopted by TT in 2007. “As such, respecting and honouring the traditions of our indigenous peoples is central to protecting and preserving our heritage as a people.” Also in attendance was Speaker of the House of Representatives Brigid Annisette-George, Inter Religious Organization President Canon Knolly Clarke, Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez, Congress of the People political leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, and Senate Vice President Nigel De Freitas.
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Coosal’s Group of Companies chairman Sieunarine Coosal yesterday said he is humbled by his selection as one of two outstanding businesspeople to be inducted into the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame.
Coosal, who was born into poverty but overcame many adversities to become an industry leader, said he is an example “that social and economic conditions at birth does not dictate or determines one’s future.”
“The honourable TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce has deemed it fitting that I be inducted into their business hall of fame. To receive such an honour, to be chosen as someone who exemplifies business excellence – in commercial prowess, leadership and in national-social responsibility – is quite a humble experience. To be recognised by my peers for business speaks volumes.”
This award recognises individuals who have given a lifetime of business excellence and exemplary service to the corporate and national community.
The other inductee will be awarded posthumously to Osmond “Ossie” Carlyle Hale, former chairman of Hand Arnold (Trinidad) who served that company from 1946 until his death in 1994.
Ossie also served in leadership positions at the TT chamber, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Royal Bank (TT) and British American Insurance Company.
Associated Brands Industries Ltd (ABIL) which moved from a local operation to an international player, has also been selected for the Internationally Known...TT Owned Company of the Year award.
ABIL has been in existence since 1974 and has built an extensive portfolio of brands, including Sunshine Snacks, Charles Candy, Devon Biscuits and Universal Cereals which it exports to over 20 markets including, Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, Dominican Republic, Taiwan and Ireland.
The Champions of Business awards ceremony takes place on November 15.
Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) is among three finalists selected for the Business Technology award and the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony. This category recognises the creation of an innovative, disruptive, technology-based company or a solution that has had a significant impact on either its target users or its industry. Term Finance (Holdings) Ltd and Vibrant Technology Solutions Ltd are the other two nominees.
CAL is being recognised for its use of technology to deliver new customer experience through its improved website, mobile application, content delivery in-flight and payment portals.
The chamber said Term Finance is the Caribbean’s first completely web-based credit institution, offering loans and financial wellness training to employees or reputable organisations across TT, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and St Lucia. The company issued its first loan in TT in April 2015 and its first loan in St Lucia in July 2019.
Incorporated in 2007, Vibrant Technology Solutions offers a unique and local brand of ICT Project Management and Integrated ICT Services to several corporate clients throughout the region. There have also been a few instances of service delivery in North America.
A 28-year-old Arouca man was gunned down yesterday afternoon and his killing has police perplexed. According to reports, Canius Wilson of Five Rivers, Arouca was found murdered a street away from where he lived. Police said residents reported hearing gunshots, around 3.30 pm, and later found Wilson, also known as “Nai Nai”, dead. Police said he was shot some 15 times with a high-powered rifle. Police said Wilson was not known to be in criminal activities. He was not robbed and investigators said there was no recent incident involving him that warrants a “revenge attack”. Also yesterday, a Morvant man was chopped to death after he attempted to steal avocados from a man in San Juan. According to police, Romero Serrette of Las Alturas went to the Prizgar Lands home of the man early, around 2.30 am, and was about to steal the fruits when the owner caught him and chopped him with an axe. Serrette collapsed and died under the tree. The homeowner and a relative surrendered and to police. Homicide officers are continuing investigations into the murders.
UNC deputy political leader David Lee and Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday called on National Security Minister Stuart Young to repeat his comments about links to the criminal underworld and the UNC.
Speaking at the post-budget public forum at Piggott Corner, Belmont on Friday night, Young said there were senior UNC members colluding with criminals. He said he received a report on Friday that officials as high as the deputy political leader as well as senators are contacting criminals and are being told by them who the UNC should present as local government candidates.
There are three UNC deputy political leaders, Lee, Khadijah Ameen and Jearlean John – Ameen and John could not be reached for comment.
“If they are brave enough call my name. They like to sue I will show them who can sue. I dare them to come out and say is me,” Lee said as he vehemently denied that he had any dealings with criminals.
Young told the crowd that “a man with a name that is a day of the week” was hired at the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Although not he did not call any name, Young was referring to Akido “Sunday” Williams who, last week, was charged with counselling a gang. Williams worked at HDC from 2010 to 2015 as a maintenance manager. During that time, Moonilal was housing minister and John, was the HDC managing director.
Moonilal when contacted yesterday said: “I challenge Stuart Young to call names. When I heard his comments about members of Parliament contacting criminal elements, I thought it was in poor taste because my mind went to Marlene Mc Donald and I thought it was insensitive of him to bring that up.”
McDonald – the PNM Port of Spain South MP – has been charged on public misconduct offences relating to her tenure as a government minister under the Patrick Manning administration.
Senior police yesterday confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into a connection between senior politicians and members of the criminal world.
At Friday night’s meeting, the Prime Minister, in the feature address, said: “I expect them to squeal like stuck pigs but let me tell you something, you may not see the reason but I know the reason why they (UNC) fought so hard against the anti-gang legislation. And now I'm hearing that they are having conversations with known people who have concerns with the police."
Rowley went on to allege that legislation would have shown the links between the UNC and criminals, so much so, that the UNC sought to dismiss the legislation. He added that had it not been for the country demanding that something be done about gangs then the UNC would not have called them back to Parliament to address the legislation.