Few things inspire passion among Trinidadian males like school rivalries and feteing.
And the friendly rivalry between Fatima College and St Mary’s College was turned all the way up when Fatima old boy, Sport Minister Anil Roberts, took it upon himself to ensure his alma mater’s Carnival fete on Saturday was better than the Saints, who had theirs on
Soca superstar Machel Montano was a surprise and last-minute addition to the Fatima entertainment line-up, and his performance was introduced by comedienne Nikki Crosby as being there “courtesy” Roberts.
Montano performed for substantially longer than his usual hour-long stint. This led people to speculate just how Roberts was able to convince the reigning Groovy and Power Soca Monarch to perform at Fatima-—and at what price.
An appearance by Montano can run in excess of $250,000.
The explanation, Montano’s mother and manager Elizabeth said yesterday, was actually quite simple. “He (Roberts) called and booked the performance. He went to the (St Mary’s) fete and when he saw Machel perform there, he said this fete can’t be better than Fatima’s, so he organised to have Machel perform,” Mrs Montano told the Express in a brief telephone interview.
There was some speculation that Montano and Roberts had struck a deal, where Machel would perfrom for free at Fatima in exchange for getting use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium free of charge when he put on his annual Carnival concert, Machel Monday, scheduled for tonight—one of the most anticipated events on the Carnival calendar.
But Montano is not getting the stadium for free, sources at the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) told the Express yesterday and he will be paying the maximum price charged for renting the stadium for an event, which is close to $200,000.
While the Minister of Sport or the Permanent Secretary has the right to waive fees for certain events, this was not the case with Machel Monday, sources said.
SporTT is responsible for renting out national stadiums for events. Sources said the ministerial waiver has been in place since before the present administration. When Roberts became minister he used the waiver to allow all events hosted by registered sporting organisations to use the facilities for free.
The waiver can also extend to certain events if they have a certain percentage of local content. But, souces said, Machel Monday was not privy to any such waiver.
“When it comes to Machel, people always like to make their own assumptions and make simple things complicated,” Mrs Montano said.
Roberts could not be reached for comment, despite several calls to his mobile phone.