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a fitting award for Sparrow

By Kamla Persad-Bissessar

As the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Siparia, I have been privileged over the years to host a number of festivities reflecting our country’s vast cultural heritage and in some instances, events such as La Divina Pastora which are directly related to our constituency.

Among the annual observances is our Carnival celebrations and in particular our popular Kiddies Carnival event. I am extremely pleased that even though I leave tomorrow on an official visit to the People’s Republic of China, and will be away for the rest of the Carnival season, it was made possible for me to be present and join in this year’s Kiddies Carnival parade and competition organised by the Siparia Women’s Association.

I am making every effort to be back in time for Carnival to be present with you on the road for what is the Greatest Show on Earth.

This year, we are even further blessed and honoured by the presence of one of the truly great legends of our calypso artform, the Mighty Sparrow, Dr Slinger Francisco.

Sir, on behalf of all the constituents of Siparia and my behalf, I welcome you to our constituency and join in offering our thanks to the creator for allowing you to be present in our homeland during Carnival 2014. It is truly a privilege and a blessing that you are here with us today, bringing your distinguished presence to our celebrations here in Penal.

Like so many citizens from all walks of life, I have long admired and enjoyed the impressive work of the Mighty Sparrow whose unparalleled contribution to our music and our culture has been hailed all over the world.

Sparrow has been dubbed “The Mighty Sparrow’’ out of enormous respect and recognition for the vastness and impact of his contribution to music in general and calypso, in particular.

Your work, Sir, has been studied, analysed, dissected and interpreted by scholars, academics, musicologists, but above all by the multitude of ordinary people not only here in our twin island, and all over the Caribbean, but in so many other parts of the world. Indeed you have justly earned the title—Calypso King of the World.

It is therefore fitting, and as Prime Minister, I am pleased to announce today, in your distinguished presence, that the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago has agreed that I recommend to His Excellency, President Anthony Carmona, to confer on you, Dr Slinger Francisco, the Mighty Sparrow, the prestigious Order of Trinidad and Tobago, the highest national recognition and honour which can be awarded to any citizen. It is a fitting tribute to the contribution you have made to Trinidad and Tobago, and to the world. 

I am extremely pleased that I am able to make this announcement to you personally and in your presence to the rest of the country. I am sure the national community will agree this is a richly deserved honour.

I am also very pleased to announce that the Cabinet has further agreed to cover all the medical expenses incurred by your recent illness, from which by the Grace of God, you successfully recovered. 

In the immortal words of your calypsoes and the unique style of your showmanship, you have entertained our senses and challenged our sensibilities. Your words have inspired, reflected, caused serious introspection and at times have just provided sheer musical and lyrical delight. 

The distinctive Sparrow laugh which has characterised many of your presentations and artfully punctuated many of your performances has been most beguiling and delightful.

Sir, you are literally one of a kind, emulated but never duplicated. I join with my constituents, particularly the children, in thanking you most sincerely for making the effort to journey to Penal today, to be with us.

I am also pleased to welcome Mr Peter Minshall to Penal today. In keeping with the celebrations at this time of the year, I am also pleased to announce that Cabinet has also agreed to grant to Mr Peter Minshall, whose work has also been hailed internationally, the lease to the State property at Federation Park which he has been occupying for several years.

This is in keeping with similar grants made to noteworthy citizens, such as our first Olympic gold medallist, Mr Hasely Crawford, who has brought significant acclaim and recognition to Trinidad and Tobago through personal talents and achievements.

Mr Minshall’s pioneering contribution to Carnival has left an indelible mark and his breathtaking innovative creations continue to influence and inspire designers of carnival costumes and theatrical presentations. In 1989, Mr Minshall was given the opportunity to occupy a state residential property. My Cabinet has agreed to make a grant of the property to him.

As I leave tomorrow for the official state visit to China, I want to extend to every citizen of the country my very best wishes for a happy and safe Carnival 2014. The initial reports are this year’s Carnival celebrations will enjoy even greater success. Nevertheless, all citizens must exercise due caution and concern to ensure safety amidst the gaiety.

• The above address was delivered by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday at the annual Kiddies Carnival competition organised by the Siparia Women’s Association in Penal

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