The establishment of a calypso museum, a health insurance plan for all calypsonians and 50 per cent radio airplay for local music remain the three unfinished pillars of the late Brother Resistance’s (Lutalo Masimba) life work.
So says trusted friend and culture ally, calypsonian Twiggy (Ann Marie Parks-Kojo). Twiggy and Resistance worked together for over a decade formulating and executing administrative policies on the board of the Trinbago United Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO).
Twiggy said Resistance was under tremendous pressure as TUCO’s president to deliver on all three goals and set himself a deadline to complete the task before the end of his final term.
Resistance never got the opportunity to see it through. The renowned rapso artiste and poet passed away in the late hours of Tuesday night at the West Shore Medical Private Hospital in Cocorite. was 67.
“This man Resistance, let me tell you something; his love for culture, he wear it on his sleeve,” an emotional Twiggy started during a phone call with the Kitcharee on Friday.
“Listen to me, honestly, Resistance was under some real pressure as the president. This term would have been his last term. I told him once you leave I leaving too. It hurt me that he didn’t finish and go home and relax.
“Now that he gone and leave me, I can’t just give up so. I will try my best and we will continue to fight in the trenches to bring to a reality at least one of those three dreams for culture he was so passionate about achieving,” Twiggy added.
On a culture preservation mission
TUCO public relations officer (PRO) Sherma Orr-Watkins echoed Twiggy’s sentiments saying Resistance’s “mission was culture” and when it came to attempting to achieve the organsiation’s objectives he was a “a true team player”.
“His mission was culture, promoting calypso and rapso and making sure people were aware of their culture and its importance. It’s a very emotional moment for us here at TUCO. Resistance was a true team player boss. He wanted and respected your input. What yuh don’t know he teach yuh. I personally learn plenty from him,” Orr-Watkins said.
Orr-Watkins added that in the days prior to his passing Resistance was busy putting together hampers and securing donations for needy calypsonians put out of work by the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic.
“He was saying ‘Sherma, calypsonians in need. We need to organise these hampers now.’ And he never wanted no fame or recognition for doing that. He would take money out this own pocket and give you and nobody would know. He was the kind of man that would give you a cup a tea when nobody watching and then turn around in front everybody and say aye, aye boy where yuh get that tea,” a teary eyed Orr-Watkins continued.
Former TUCO secretary Kassman (Wayne Mc Donald) shared a near 40-year friendship with Resistance. That relationship was solidified and expanded during their decade on the calypso board, McDonald said.
“We always had a good relationship but on TUCO board we became very close. In fact the last conversation we had he say ‘boy, ah real miss yuh’. We used to sit for hours discussing ideas and what more we could do to improve and push culture,” McDonald revealed.
Mc Donald said Resistance often lamented that they had to work too hard to convince “the power brokers” in T&T about “the power of culture” as a viable investment.
“One of the distressing things about our society is the power brokers do not understand the power of the culture. Half of our work was trying to convince these people there are certain things to be done that are necessary because our culture is tied into our development as a people. Unless you don’t get into that developmental mode utilising the culture, things will never be right. (Former culture minister) Joan Yuille-Williams is the only person that understand the effect that culture would have in society,” Mc Donald said.
Guiding a genre
Long before his adminstrive roles in calypso, Resistance established himself as the father of the rapso movement. Always a poet, he first began putting riddim to his word as a 16-year-old Queen’s Royal College pupil in 1970 after hearing Lancelot Layne’s “Blow Way”.
Layne’s ground-breaking rhythmic spoken word delivery atop African drum fuelled a conscious beat within a young Resitance. Following Layne’s untimely passing in 1990, Resistance took up the mantle as rapso’s preeminent voice and established himself as a founding giant of the genre with the standards “Mother Earth” and “Ring D Bell”.
“Resistance the father, I am the son and in the name of rapso, Thy kingdom come…’ Stannyman (Stanton Kewley) sang that lyric in one of our songs a long time ago and truer words were never spoken,” said Wendell Manwarren, member of rapso collective 3Canal.
Manwarren told the Kitcharee on Friday, “we are because he was” and that 3Canal remains “fired up by Resistance’s example and stand recommitted to his mantra ‘Stand Firm for yuh Culture’.
“If wasn’t for Brother Resistance, we would not be who we are today. We sang backgrounds on his songs before we even recorded our own. Resistance was always inspiring and encouraging and accessible and humble and rooted and real and wise and committed and strong,” Manwarren said.
Above all else Resistance’s generosity and humility in leadership should remain a clear example for all that seek to lead, Twiggy said.
“I remember meeting Resistance on Charlotte Street a day, it was almost time for TUCO hour on i95.5 FM and I say but yuh will be late. He had three book lists in his hand and he say; ‘Look you will have to go because these children need to get these books to start school.’
“Now all Resistance children were big at the time and living abroad, but there he was getting supplies for children as if they were his own. That was Resistance. Some people think everything he do he should put it out there so people could “see TUCO working” but he was not that kind of man,” Twiggy said.
Twiggy said in over 30 years she only saw Resistance get emotional and lose his composure on one occasion: when his close friend calypsonian Lord Brigo (Samuel Abraham) died on May 16, 2017.
“He came to the office and he watch me in my face and say what happen? Something happen! I say pappa Brigs gone yuh know and I watch Resistance break down and cry.
We feel that pain now. I couldn’t believe and I still can’t believe Resistance is gone. The pain is just too much,” Twiggy concluded.