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Dear Editor: It’s a glaring omission not to award ORTT to “Kitch” and 2008 Olympics 4x100m team

“[…] Kitch was not a medical doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a banker, or someone with ‘Dr’ before his name. However, his sterling contribution to this country far surpassed  [that made by] many who hold such academic accolades, and have in the past received the ORTT.

“[…] Another glaring omission is the country’s 4×100 metres men’s relay team that was belatedly awarded gold medals for their performance at the 2008 Olympic Games, following the disqualification of Jamaica…”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson and Marc Burns celebrate their finish in the 4×100 final of the 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing National Stadium on 22 August 2008.
(Copyright AFP 2017/ Jewel Samad)

The following Letter to the Editor on Trinidad and Tobago’s decision not to award the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT) to late iconic calypsonian Aldwyn “Lord Kitchener” Roberts and 2008 Olympic Games 4×100 metre gold medalists Richard “Torpedo” Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Aaron Armstrong was submitted to Wired868 by Louis Williams of St Augustine:

I wish to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the awardees at this year’s Republic Day National Awards Ceremony.

In this regard, I also wish to register my sincere concern at the failure, once again, to bestow the ORTT to our dearly departed and beloved Lord Kitchener (“Kitch”). In my view, it is a major oversight in a year marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.

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Kitch was undoubtedly a musical genius. Indeed, a prophet is without honour in his own country. Why is Kitch being denied the nation’s highest award, even posthumously? 

His achievements are very well-known to the national community and I need not detail them here—although I had, in a previous letter to the editor some months ago, briefly addressed some of them.

Kitch was not a medical doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a banker, or someone with “Dr” before his name. However, his sterling contribution to this country far surpassed  [that made by] many who hold such academic accolades, and have in the past received the ORTT. I wonder, at times, if the national awards committee is biased in favour of persons who have attained high academic qualifications.

Photo: Iconic late calypsonian Aldwyn ‘Lord Kitchener’ Roberts.

It could not be that because he died in the year 2000, since the late Mr Adrian Cola Reinzi had been deceased for a much longer time than that, when he was bestowed with a national award. 

It could not be because he refused the Chaconia Medal Gold at some time in the 1990s, because Mr Makandal Daaga had also refused a national award and was later bestowed with the ORTT.

I note that the Mighty Sparrow (“Sparrow”) has been bestowed with the ORTT. Strange, but maybe the fact that Sparrow holds an honorary doctorate  from the UWI, helped to sway the national awards committee to grant him the ORTT—who knows?

Sparrow is my favourite calypsonian. Sparrow in his heyday was a master entertainer. Everyone has his favourites. However, I must concede, given that most—if not all—of his best calypsos were composed by others, that gives Kitch the edge as a musical genius, since he composed all of his own calypsos. But, comparisons are odious.

Photo: Late calypso grandmaster Aldwyn “Lord Kitchener” Roberts.

Nonetheless, they are both deserving of the ORTT.

Another glaring omission is the country’s 4×100 metres men’s relay team that was belatedly awarded gold medals for their performance at the 2008 Olympic Games, following the disqualification of Jamaica.

If the national awards committee is consistent with past practice, then the athletes concerned should receive the ORTT. Our only other Olympic gold medallists, Messrs Hasely Crawford and Keshorn Walcott, both received our nation’s then highest national awards for such achievements.

I defer to the national awards committee but, provided that it is not a breach of protocol, it is my recommendation and advice that a special investiture ceremony should be held to correct these glaring omissions.

History will not be kind to us if these glaring omissions are allowed to persist.

Photo: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games 4x100m gold medalists (from left, back row) Aaron Armstrong, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson, (from left, front row) Keston Bledman and Marc Burns.
(via TTOC)

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One comment

  1. While I concur with the writer on the achievements of both Kitchener and the gold medal winning relay team. A critical factor that is apparently being overlooked is the need for these persons to have been nominated in the approved manner for the consideration of the committee. If no nomination is received for consideration then the awards committee to the best of my understanding does not possess the authority to decide to make an award.