Daily-Express-Editorial

Within the space of 24 hours the nation lost two national treasures who have sired generations in dance and the pan, and will surely inspire generations to come.

Dancer Torrance Mohammed and pan man Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed, although not blood brothers, were towering brothers in the arts. In places where our dance and steelband music are celebrated, and especially in San Fernando and South Trinidad, their names are spoken with awe, reverence and pride. That one of them, Torrance, should have come to a brutal end at the hands of a bandit is a stain on the national psyche and a source of sadness and shame that burdens the grief of loss. An equal tragedy is the very real possibility that the young man who dealt him the fatal injury while stealing his gold chain and phone might have had no clue who Torrance Mohammed was, so disconnected are we from the real VIPs of this country.

Thankfully, not even death or the manner of it can dim the ­sparkle of their gifts which over decades have lifted our spirits and enriched our lives.

To this day, people still talk about Bobby Mohammed’s musical leadership of the legendary Guinness Cavaliers, the unknown “South band” that went to Port of Spain with Bobby’s daring ­arrangement of Lord Melody’s “Mas” and dethroned steelband powerhouse Pan Am North Stars, cheating it of a hat-trick in the process. That moment marked the arrival of “the South band” and launched a steelband rivalry that endures to this day. It also defined a unique style and sound that came to distinguish South bands.

Cavaliers’ victory proved to be no fluke. In 1966, it ran second to Despers in a controversial decision with Bobby’s arrangement of Lord Kitchener’s “My Brother”. However, there was no room for dispute in 1967 when Cavaliers reclaimed the Panorama throne with Bobby’s arrangement of Kitchener’s “Sixty Seven”.

The musical genius of Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed gave South steelbands a self-confidence and standard that keep them among the world’s best. His was a life devoted to the steelband as pannist, composer, arranger and innovator. His place is secure in Pan’s ­pantheon of greats.

Torrance Mohammed was more than a man; he was an institution from whom a community rooted in San Fernando expanded out into the world of dance. Many of today’s top dancers, their ­proteges and dance groups can trace their lineage back to him and the Arawak Group which he agreed to shoulder on the urgings of the great lady of dance, Beryl McBurnie.

Last January, Arawak celebrated its 65th anniversary which was universally toasted as a tribute to Torrance Mohammed’s endurance, vision and generosity of spirit. He was a foundation block upon which much of South Trinidad’s art was built through the ­Creative Arts Centre, the San Fernando Arts Council and several national bodies. His contribution came in every sphere—as performer, administrator, teacher, mentor, archivist, business and politics.

Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed and Torrance Mohammed are golden threads woven into the fabric of this country. We are ­thankful for having had them among us. Our condolences to their loved ones.

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The initiation of a Commission of Enquiry into the Government’s management of Covid-19, for which Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is so passionately clamouring, would be instructive if it presented an opportunity for the people of Trinidad and Tobago to hear from her just how she would have managed this health crisis had she been in charge.

The hush-hush arrival of a “small donation” of vials of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, flown in and apparently hand-delivered by courier to the Ministry of National Security, raises more questions than the number of vials involved.

I am repeatedly asked by various stakeholders whether Covid-19 vaccination could be made mandatory, so today I offer some initial thoughts.

This is not a clear-cut legal question and there are good arguments on both sides. There is no law, precedent or policy which governs the matter at present. Labour law, public health and human rights issues intermingle and ultimately, what is reasonable and in the majority interest would likely prevail.

Why would a person willingly give up their family, job and community to embark on an illegal, dangerous journey to another country?

In the case of the Venezuelans, it’s because they are generally running away from unbearable, life-threatening circumstances.

Did the staff at the health centres know only 50 persons could have been be vaccinated per day? When they realised this, did they not think to register the names and telephone numbers of the other elderly citizens already in line from 5.30 a.m. who were sent home when the vaccinations ran out?

I hope the Government considers giving a booster shot of the Sinopharm vaccine if supplies are available to this country. Dr Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, said T&T will receive 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China this week.