I extend my deepest condolences to Natasha Nurse, wife of Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall, his daughter, the other members of his family, his associates Christopher Laird and Errol Fabien plus those who worked with him in the arts.
Could we be done with the superlatives and praises for Sprangalang? I feel that we should honour Sprangalang (and others like him), in very special ways. I believe that we should make him live again by means of three national institutions.
We should have a National Audio -Visual Archive, a National Convalescent Home for Artistes as well as the establishment of the accolade of Living Human Treasure which would be a means of honouring artistes while they are alive.
These three institutions may become important facets of our creative arts economy, the orange economy.
Last year T&T hosted Carifesta XIV Sprang was in hospital. I wrote, As the curtain comes down on Carifesta I wonder if any thought was given to him (Sprangalang) and his contribution to the performing Arts in this country.”
“He should be called a Living Human Treasure, or as it is termed in Japan, “A Living National Treasure.”
“Living Human Treasure” is, according to UNESCO, a person who possesses to a high degree the knowledge and skills required for performing or recreating specific elements of the intangible cultural heritage. This title or a form of it is awarded by the nation’s government to a person who is regarded as a national treasure while still alive.”
In the same article about Sprang I also wrote, “All of this makes me recall the need for Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation’s Convalescent Home which, since 2006, has not yet gotten off the ground.”
Why has it not been built? It is because of an embarrassing back and forth between the then Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and TUCO.
At least NJAC, through its cultural arm the NACC, honours outstanding artistes, not only calypsonians, at the Young Kings, Calypso Queen, Kings Go Forth and Top 20 Calypso Awards. The artistes would get notable monetary awards.
NACC’s mantra, which came from the late Chief Servant Makandal Daaga, is “To recognise or honour the Artist is in itself an act of National Salvation.”
Oh Gorm! T&T has to do better than the laments following the passing of our creative artistes. Where are their works kept for posterity? As Explainer sang, “We shouldn’t treat our heroes so.”
In the last few years, we lost calypsonians Brigo, Superior, Composer, Shadow, the Original de Fosto Himself. We have lost dramatists: Raymond Choo Kong, James and Mavis Lee Wah, Tony Hall. We have lost Anand Yankarran, Nazimool Khan, Sam Boodram. Musicians: Tony Voisin, Johnny Gonsalves, Ann-Marion Osbourne. Comedians: Peter Joseph, John Agitation. Masman: Edmond Hart. Panmen: Ken “Professor” Philmore, Ellie Mannette. Dancers: Iyalorisha Molly Ahye.
Rubadiri Victor and the Artists Coalition of Trinidad could provide more.
Persons like Sprang were accomplished at archiving our accomplishments. He was not alone, because there are several other private collections. Among them, those of his associates in Banyan and Gayelle, Errol Fabien and Christopher Laird.
Also, there was Louis Homer, Dr St Rose who collected on behalf of Eddie Grant, who had recognised and proceeded to show T&T how to monetise our works. Add to them George Maharaj, Edward “Teddy” Pinheiro and Zeno Obi Constance.
At the state level there is also the little known, relatively underfunded, Carnival Institute which falls under the National Carnival Commission, and there are works housed at the UWI Library and the National Archives.
I hope that this letter is read by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.
They need to find the resources for permanent institutions that take care, archive and honour our artistes. Newspaper articles, radio and TV specials, medals and plaques are good, but not good enough for people like Sprangalang.
The SINUHE Centre