Misleading! Is how President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba, has described the content of a recent editorial in the Guardian Newspaper, which accused the cultural organisation of not doing enough to preserve the calypso artform in T&T?
Responding to the editorial published on October 30, in which TUCO was taken to task on its alleged failure to adequately preserve the works of the calypso art form, Masimba said there was no fact or truth to the editorial’s references.
He dismissed content in the editorial, which suggested a decline by TUCO to accept an esteemed collection of all works of the calypso art form dating back to 1912, from calypso researcher and collector, George D Maharaj.
“We never even held any discussion to say that documents or anything else were ever exchanged,” Masimba revealed.
He said what was true was that Maharaj had tried on several occasions to sell his collection to the Government of T&T and perhaps other persons, but maintained TUCO was never among that list.
“At one time, the heritage Library under NALIS (National Library and Information System Authority), spoke to us about helping them to get an evaluator for the collection. But apparently, the collection was not in Trinidad and those are the facts,” Masimba quipped.
He also questioned the notion that Maharaj’s collection was the greatest calypso collection in the world, saying there was no proof of this.
“What about the other collections in Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the world. How do we know that his is the greatest collection? More so, the collection has not even been digitized, which is the important thing for works of that nature in these times,” Masimba added.
The editorial came on the heels of last Friday’s unveiling of the life-like wax figure of Grenadian-born, Trinidadian adopted ‘Calypso King of the World,’ Slinger “Mighty Sparrow” Francisco which took place on the premises of The Commercial Credit Division of Consolidated Finance Co. Ltd, Barbados.
Of that achievement, Masimba said last Thursday TUCO was very proud and the unveiling fit aptly into Calypso History Month, which concluded on October 31.
Masimba said TUCO had been lobbying for such spaces for the past two decades. He also noted that the Wax Museum in Barbados was not a museum for the sole display of calypsonians or works of the art form per se.
He said several entities had been engaged over the years including the National Museum, the NALIS Heritage Library, the Ministries of Tourism and Culture and even the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The latter, he said was a proposal to have a museum on the concept of sound and light, without the need of a physical building, but due to no support by the then Government, the proposal was shelved.
He said TUCO had even lobbied to have one of T&T’s Magnificent Seven—Mille Fleurs, turned into a calypso museum, but that proposal too, was denied.
Masimba disclosed TUCO was currently working with former officials of the National Trust to redesign the proposal and to keep the advocacy for a museum alive.
“So it is not that TUCO has not been continuously trying to get this place and space—we have,” said Masimba.
He added, “I am very disappointed by what was said but glad the issue came up as perhaps it would be placed back into the national conversation.”