Farewell, ‘Godfather Burkie’: The Man, The Meme, The Malandros…

Cedric Burke was a father, a son, a husband and a friend to many. And his passing yesterday, allegedly due to Covid-19, will be mourned by those close to him.

‘Godfather Burkie’, though, belonged to everybody—the fluffy, scruffy, artful dodger who strode into President’s House, allegedly uninvited, and entered the hearts of Trinidad and Tobago citizens forever. Or at least their WhatsApp chats.

Image: A social media send-off for the late ‘Godfather Burkie’.

It is hard to account for Burkie’s fame. Like Iwer George. And just as difficult not to root for him.

Iwer was proof that talent is not everything. You too—with hard work, perseverance and, allegedly, a cut-price fuel racket—could become a star. It is the quintessential Trini (smart man) success story.

(Sure, you might scoff now. But watch yuh begging Iwer for the ‘hook-up’ when next allyuh bounce up.)

Burkie never asked people to raise their hands in the air for uncomfortably long periods in soca parties. He never got Nicki Minaj’s man vex. Or Machel. Or Sunny Bling. Or Super Blue. Or Rachel Price.

He never called anyone a ‘cockroach’, snubbed a poor youth man and ‘drove off highly energised’, showed up uninvited on anyone’s Facebook wall to criticise their wig or ‘Rattans shoes’, or insulted anyone’s intelligence with an ‘all lives matter’ sermon.

In fact, Burkie never said anything remotely interesting about himself, or anyone else. He just went about trying to live his best life—for himself and those he cared about.

Photo: Cedric Burke (centre) became an inadvertent celebrity when he infamously joined MP Marlene McDonald (left) for her swearing-in ceremony with then president Anthony Carmona in 2017.

‘Tong say’ Burkie was a pretty fierce-some fellah if you ran into him in the wrong place at the wrong time. A real ‘malandros’. But then more than a few police officers might also match that description.

There was talk of him living a little too well off the treasury. But then he probably cost a snippet of what taxpayers pay to mind the families of the Al Rawis, Youngs, Moonilals and Warners—with a negligible difference in returns.

Burkie is remembered for two images: one sporting over-sized gold chains, the other in an unflattering tie and shirt, standing a bit too stiffly next to President Anthony Carmona. Perhaps it says something that the latter snap is the one that endures.

Burkie is the man that didn’t fit in. Trinidad’s answer to the ‘Beverly Hillbillies’—the guy who wants to be ‘above his station’ but can’t quite pull it off. Hilarious right? No?

Up to his last breath, he was still a free man; not facing extradition, or being trolled by Mark Bassant for skullduggery—guilty of little more than perhaps failing to adhere to physical distancing.

Photo: Former TTFA president David John-Williams shows off his best poker-face, and inadvertently makes a case for meme stardom.

The TTPS didn’t ketch him in anything untoward when he was alive, so don’t waste your breath washing your mouth on him in the afterlife.

Former Port of Spain South MP and alleged fraudster Marlene McDonald described Burkie as a ‘patriot’, which might be ridiculous in the manner she intended it; but true in an entirely differently way.

If chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram is guilty of anything besides not having a funny-bone, it is his failure to humanise a virus that thrives on complacency.

It is impossible for people to get excited about numbers, once it crosses a certain threshold. Is 2,033 positives scarier than 1,472? Would you behave any differently if you heard Trinidad and Tobago had 2,033 active cases rather than just 1,397?

A battle weary population needs emotional connectivity to this invisible threat—not maths lessons.

Tonight, though, Burkie put a face on Covid-19. He is not ‘an elderly man with co-morbidities’. He is the unsinkable fellah from Sea Lots whose picture is in everybody’s WhatsApp feed.

Image: Cedric Burke died on 11 September after allegedly testing positive for Covid-19.
Will his passing make the threat of the virus seem more real?

And now he is sunk.

His friends and loved ones mourn the man. The country will remember the meme; but also the virus.

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About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. Well said. I totally agree.

  2. A stupid, poorly written piece of rubbish.

  3. Mr Livewire, I was stumped by “malandros” which means: “one conscious of image and status, preoccupied with projecting coolness and non-conformity, and willing to use violence to establish social status”. The real meaning of this statement is just as profound as your statement that the population needs to understand their connection to Covid not math lessons.

  4. Eulogy for a gang leader, drug dealer, responsible for untold loss of young lives, whether through addiction or gang warfare.
    Jumping on the bandwagon merely because he was a ‘colourful’ character.
    Oh well

    • Lasana Liburd

      You think the Live Wire column is about trying to say popular things? And this is an example of trying to be popular?

    • Two things, John.

      The first is that you omitted from your short list “human being.”

      The second is that not everybody can WRITE between the lines just as not everybody can READ what is written there.

      Without knowing you, I had imagined you were NOT in the second group. Just shows how careful one needs to be…

    • Hannibal ,
      do you also wince in disgust for eulogies of other trinidadian drug dealers, “gang” leaders and those responsible for countless lives lost when they are Syrian? Indian? White? White-ish? No? Memes aren’t made of THOSE criminals when they go to state functions or get contracts that facilitate their illicit empires either.

  5. Lasana Liburd is without doubt the best football reporter in Trinidad and Tobago. Mr Live Wire can now make a case for being the best eulogist.
    This is journalistic tight-rope walking at its best.

    How does one so soon after a bereavement contrive to truthfully praise without crossing the line into bad taste?

    Take a re-read of this piece to get the answer.

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