Four laureates including Jamaican writer, Kei Miller, were inducted by the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence at its first awards ceremony to be staged in Jamaica on Saturday night at the Pegasus hotel.
The ceremony also included a performance by famed Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin who rendered her song Try.
The Caribbean Awards have been in existence since 2005, and this was its tenth ceremony. The programme was initiated by the late Trinidadian entrepreneur Dr Anthony N Sabga in 2005.
Laureates in the areas of arts and letters, entrepreneurship, science and technology, and public and civic contributions are given half-million TT dollars, a medal and citation.
The winners are nominated by country committees and selected by a regional panel chaired by Sir Shridath Ramphal, and containing representatives from all the territories covered: Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, the OECS and T&T.
Mr A Norman Sabga, who succeeded his father as patron of the awards, is chairman of the ANSA McAL Group of companies and the ANSA McAL Foundation, which hosts the ceremony, spoke of the group’s commitment to continue the initiative.
He also lauded the resiliency and determination of the Jamaican people, and expressed his great pleasure to host a ceremony in that country.
This year’s laureates included Jamaican Kei Miller, a poet and novelist who has won prestigious prizes, like the OCM Bocas Prize in 2017 in Trinidad, and the Forward Prize for poetry in 2014 in the UK. Three Jamaicans—Prof Terrence Forrester, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, and Mrs Claudette Richardson Pious had been inducted in 2006 and 2008.
Miller, in accepting the awarded, spoke of his awakening as a writer in the pages of Trinidadian Earl Lovelace’s novel, The Wine of Astonishment, where a preacher realised his duty to guide his flock, after their religion was criminialised by the colonial authorities. “I was born in 1996 in the pages of this novel,” said Miller, which he said had shown him the duty of writers: to remind people of who they are.
He also mentioned a small controversy over an essay he had recently published in the Jamaican publication, Pree, and the criticism that erupted. His lesson from this, he said, was a reminder that part of the writer’s duty included “love”.
In accepting the prize, Trinidadian Chevaughn Joseph spoke her foundation being her “mission from God,” to bring comfort to sick and afflicted children. The JBF intends to begin its mission of taking its foundation regional in Jamaica.
Other 2018 laureates included Trinidadian geneticist Dr Adesh Ramsubhag, Guyanese entrepreneur William Andrew Boyle.
Ramsubhag spoke of his journey from a rural agricultural village in south Trinidad to being a UWI geneticist. He is now on the verge of making breakthrough discoveries in novel pharmaceuticals, and new antibiotics, and he urged that more emphasis be given to scientific research.
Boyle recalled his origins in a remote region of the Berbice region, and urged the audience to “don’t forget how to dream”, as dreams had brought him to the success he enjoyed. He and Ramsubhag also thanked their communities and their parents for being instrumental in their formations. The mothers of Boyle and Ramsubhag were present along with large contingents of their families.
In accepting their awards, all the laureates expressed gratitude and admiration for the regional scope of the awards scheme, and all pledged to continue their efforts on a regional scale, which the awards had given them the platform and the resources to do.
These inductions bring the number of people recognised by the ANSA Caribbean Awards for Excellence to 35.