Drums, moko jumbies, steel pan music, singing and even some laughter featured in the final send-off for cultural giant Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall yesterday in San Fernando. The two hour-packed programme at City Hall Auditorium was attended by a cross-section of people from all walks of life who turned out to pay tribute to the 71-year-old cultural icon who dedicated more than 30 years of his life to culture and the arts.
Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Randall Mitchell and San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello were among the pallbearers who carried the casket into the auditorium to the rhythmic sounds of the drums.
Only a few people were allowed to attend the service due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it was live-streamed on the Facebook page of Belgroves Funeral Home. Tributes were in the form of speeches as well as instrumental and musical performances.
Regrello said Sprangalang was the master of ceremonies at his wedding. Describing him as a cultural ambassador, he said, “He was the leader of the conversation, poking fun at the serious, the mundane and the ridiculous, with an incessant rhythm that would make you laugh till you cried. Sprangalang was our social mirror, pointing out our flaws. Making us comfortable in the benign and aware of the malignant.”
Mitchell said far too often cultural artistes are only recognised for their contribution after they die.
“To remedy this continued oversight, this past week the National Cultural Policy was laid in Parliament and that policy is designed to ensure the recognition of cultural stalwarts, such as Dennis Hall, are celebrated and remembered for their role in shaping the vast cultural landscape,” he said.
Describing Hall as a gift to the nation, the minister added: “Sprang as we sometimes fondly called him was never one to shy away from a battle of wits and possessed a stinging sense of humour that was the envy of most seasoned orators. Since his passing, many stories have been told about his humility, compassion, and love for all that is cultural. He did not just love the culture, or call himself cultural, he was the very definition of culture.”
Ronald Grosberg, managing director of Diana Candy Company Ltd, in a video tribute, credited Hall for helping make Diana power mint a tremendous success through the popular advertisement he starred in.
He said: “His creative and progressive thinking made him a true pioneer. I will always remember him for his ability to make everyone laugh think and feel, all at the same time We’ve lost one of our greatest cultural icons. One with a profound devotion to his country and all things Trinbagonian.”
Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, Tuco president Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba, also remarks via video, each remembering Hall’s contributions and love for the culture. Joshua Regrello did a steelpan tribute while calypsonians Karen Eccles and Karene Ache honoured him in song.
There were other live and pre-recorded presentations by various artistes including Cro Cro Weston Rawlins. Masters of ceremony Errol Fabiel, Damien Melville, and Wendell Etienne shared fond memories of Hall. The sermon was given by Bishop Carlyle Chankersingh.
Following the service, there was a private cremation at Belgroves Funeral Home.