I want to pay my respects to the life of Brother Resistance, Lutalo Masimba. During his time on earth, he was one of many Keepers of the Word. I call them Keepers of the Word because they have been custodians of Trinidad and Tobago’s oral tradition.
If we wish to remember Resistance honourably, we must see him as part of a community of artistes that was birthed out of the era called the Roaring 70s, as Brother Valentino said it in a calypso.
Resistance and others wrote, recited, sang, chanted, drummed to proclaim the aspirations of a generation of Trinidadians and Tobagonians who wanted to change this country into something more noble than the one they had met.
The Establishment, as we still call it, would have liked to silence them but it failed as it was unsuccessful in curbing the calypsonians, our nation’s other Keepers of the Word.
Artistes like Resistance gained popular support and established themselves when they took part in innumerable cultural events such as those held by the National Joint Action Committee. They and the calypsonians spoke the language of the masses.
In most cases these Keepers of the Word came from Laventille and its adjacent communities in East Port of Spain. There were also some from South Trinidad. Some have passed on; others are now in their 70s and 80s. And all of them have created a legacy worthy of our respect.
They have been followed by the current rapso and spoken word artistes. These younger performers have inherited the craft and commitment of Brother Resistance’s generation.
I can’t remember all of them, maybe you, the reader, can help me remember.
Here are some who have transitioned: Alfred Fraser, Ceteswayo Murai, Cheryl Byron, Lancelot Kebu Layne (the founder of rapso), Lasana Kwesi, Leroy Calliste (the poet who shared the birth name of Black Stalin), Mansa Musa (Rudolf Lord), Onika Grainger, my late companion, and Wayne Davis from San Fernando.
And some are still with us: Abdul Malik, Brother Book, Brother Mze (from South), Joseph Cummings, Kasi Senghor, Karega Mandela and Pearl Eintou Springer.
Some of them wrote books, some have had recordings and all of their works are out there in the atmosphere.
We should not continue to do what we are doing now. We should not be playing Resistance’s music for a few days and nights until his funeral and then forget him. Please, we need to stop that. We have done it too often to our heroes in the arts, for that matter all our achievers.
If we persist, we shall not only dishonour Brother Resistance, but all artistes who have been and continue to be his spiritual companions, the Keepers of the Word.
The author is a member of the SINUHE Centre
Foundation of Mt Lambert