Thursday, January 18, 2018

Early days with ANR in Tobago

It is with deep sorrow that I learned of the passing of former president ANR Robinson. When I heard that he was hospitalised a few weeks ago, I shared with someone some of my earliest memories of him, and I wish to do the same with readers of the Express.

The year was 1956 and young Mr Robinson, the People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate, was running against “Fargo” — the Honourable APT James — the Butler Labour Party candidate, for the Tobago seat in the Legislative Council.

I was not yet a teenager, but I can still remember a rally song they were singing in one of Mr Robinson’s motorcades as they passed through Belle Garden heading for Roxborough on the Sunday before the election.

We ain’ want no/ we ain’ want no

We ain’ want no stevedore

All we want is/ a young barrister

To represent our Tobago

I believe that my love for calypso helped me to remember the events of those days. I saw TUB Butler in the back seat of a car fanning himself and waving to us during recess at school, while he was in Tobago to campaign for APT James... which brings to mind another ditty we used to sing to the tune of Sparrow’s Jean and Dinah:

Gomes and AE/ TUB and APT

Around the corner shopping

Bet your life is votes dey buying

And if you catch dem broken

Not a single vote for nothing

Don’t make a row

Corruption done/ and PNM take over now

The PNM won the 1956 general elections, but Mr Robinson lost in Tobago. APT James joined the Democratic Labour Party with the other winning individuals of the losing parties in the election to form an opposition. Mr Robinson and APT James faced off again in 1958 to select a representative to the federal government, and that time Mr Robinson thrashed Mr James.

My mother used to have a framed copy of one of Mr Robinson’s campaign photographs high above many other framed pictures she had in our living room; and, many years later, I clipped a copy of Mr Robinson posing with his granddaughter and slipped it under one corner of the glass of a framed picture of my granddaughter. I still look at them from time to time.

Mr Robinson was one of our heroes and I shall remember him as long as my memory lasts.

Wilton Broomes

Irvington, New Jersey