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PUBLIC MONUMENT IN MEMORY OF THE LATE ARTHUR N.R. ROBINSON

The Motion is therefore carried.

Leader of Assembly Business.

Assemblyman
3.05 P.M

So, I really commend the contributions and we have heard the quotation from Romans 13:7 where you give honour where honour is due.  Of course, the kind of influence, the kind of inspiration and the legacy that a Leader can really play in the lives of our people here especially our youth.


We heard Assemblyman Pitt when he spoke about the school and the getting involved in sport, sporting endeavours and so on and where would Dwight Yorke be had it not been for a Leader’s position.    So, all our speakers are Leaders in their own right and we really, really thank the Leaders for their invaluable contribution at this time, as we seek to have the Executive Council establish an institute, this public monument on behalf of the A. N. R. Robinson and our other heroes as they have identified.


I also want to add to Assemblyman Beckles as he spoke of the funeral for Pastor Brebnor.  I also want to extend my condolences to our Deputy Chief Secretary who is here but really should be there as Pastor Brebnor is her very close relative.   So, I just want to on behalf of this House, this august House extend our condolences to the Deputy Chief Secretary.


Madam Presiding Officer, I also want to bring to this House “Meagan” a young, young woman – Meagan Learmont Noel who is an employee of Assistant Secretary, Assemblyman Jomo Pitt.  She worked as a Field Officer, in the Youth Department and in her short life I know gone too soon.   She has made invaluable contribution to the development of our young people in Tobago and also participated in community activities where she worked with families and really worked to enable families for development and so may her soul rest in peace! 


Madam Presiding Officer, I also want to recollect, in 2001 the Prime Minister then, A. N. R. Robinson and he was giving out Pinning Awards - National Awards and I was fortunate to receive an Award then and when he was pinning the pin stuff on my blouse he pulled me closer and he said, “Don’t go away, I want for us to discuss a family I need you to help me with.”    He went on to talk about the kind of help he wanted for families in  Tobago and he had always been like that, he would always call and ask for support to enhance and develop our young people and our families.  


So, in terms of the kind of inspiration, the kind of way in which he distinguished himself as a Leader of Leaders, the way he fought for our autonomy, the way he stood up for Tobago, the courage he had for his country, the way he was for country and not for self.   I think these are the kind of characteristics that we should all try to emulate and in so doing, we as Leaders can take this country forward.  


Madam Presiding Officer, since there is no public monument or sacred space to recognize and really symbolize the achievements of A. N. R. Robinson and his other contributions then we really recommend that the Executive Council provide a public monument in an appropriate location and we think that this is a fitting accolade for the remembrance of the life of this exemplary Tobagonian.


Madam Presiding Officer, I beg to move that this Motion be supported.


Thank you.  [Desk thumping]


Question put and agreed to.   




Assemblyman

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. 

 

 I must say that this House took very seriously this Motion where we speak of the way in which we honour and pay tribute to our heroes and our icons of Tobago including A.N.R. Robinson.  I must commend the Speakers, Councillor Dr. Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, let me commend her; let me commend (in his absence he had to go to a funeral) Assemblyman Handel Beckles, and of course our Assemblyman Jomo Pitt for the kind of profoundway in which they have looked at the life of A.N.R. Robinson and also apply the values and attributes and characteristics to the people within their community and people in Tobago who have been working and toiling. Many times they are unsound heroes.  So, today we really look to them, I am sure that all of us have in our minds the people out there who are contributing to the development of Tobago and Trinidad and Tobago as a whole.

Member for Black Rock/Whim/Spring

2.45 P.M

One action by one individual like I said, opened the doors for many including our great Dwight Yorke.


Then we have individuals who just by their actions benefit many but it was not their initial intent to do such.  Let me explain or elaborate on that.  Many would say and acknowledge that Usain Bolt is an icon and in my book his performance on the track, yes, commendable and that by itself makes him an icon but I was more impressed with his contribution to helping others.  I am sure many of you don’t know or did not know that he has leverage his international status to help underprivileged children in Jamaica.  Did you know that his initial contract with Nike including sporting equipment being provided to his alma mater.  Did you know that the Usain Bolt Foundation was set up again to help underprivileged kids.  His professional career is really focused on Track but because of the success he is taking that like I said, and leverage it to help others.  I do not think that he is doing it for the fame and glory because I do not think what he is doing will ever equate to the fame and fortune that he has gathered or garnered from being successful on the track.  But this is just an example of people who are giving back to help others and in that framework is what icons and heroes come from, in my opinion.


Bringing it back home there are a number of and I will be so much specific in the names that I have listed here – they are all sports oriented.  The Honourable Member for Plymouth/Golden Lane alleged to be a great footballer in his time.   


    Cannot deny the fact, the impact that Bertille St. Clair had on football in Tobago.  His contribution to football I think is second to none.  The St. Clair Coaching School that was established sometime in the late seventies could be more than thirty (30) years ago – a Coaching School that allowed many of us myself included to flourish and go beyond the shores of Tobago because of  this institution.  But what is even more remarkable to me or what is remarkable with regards to Mr. St. Clair and the others is that commitment every Saturday from 9.00 a.m to about 11.00/12.00 a.m,  rain or shine, he will be out there with the children and I will be out there for free.  The concept of people giving back for free or giving back, it seems to be a thing of the past.  Again, where would many people be or many footballers be without Bertille St. Clair giving that dedication and commitment to helping others as the Secretary for Community Development and Culture mentioned that commitment is – I will give you an example.  I tried it once, Madam Presiding Officer, to give back in football in my community, I really tried.  Came out on a Saturday morning because we started off something in Lambeau and I came out Saturday morning – couple Saturday mornings and after about the third Saturday there is a saying that, “Man must know thyself.” [Laughter]  I recognize that such a commitment is not for the faint- hearted and I thought I was strong but I recognized that with regards to that kind of commitment I do not have it. 


Giving back – Mr. Harold Yearwood Tennis, again, the Saturdays for kids, for children free!  Where he got the rackets, where he got the balls, I do not know.   This is before we even had a Tobago House of Assembly, this is before people got skilled in the knack of writing letters to the various  Divisions, asking for assistance.  This was an era when you had to make do with what you have.  So, four (4) of us because I was part of that same  Harold Yearwood Tennis Clinic going on a Saturday mornings four/five of us had to use one racket and we made due.  It is out of Harold Yearwood we have Mr. Coach Anthony William who is carrying on the same Programme down on Shaw Park and you will see literally hundreds of kids during the week taking advantage of the services from Mr. Coach Williams.  These are people in my estimation, Madam Presiding Officer, worthy of being recognized as icons in this community, in this Tobago.  

 

Track and Field - we have Mr. Gerald Franklyn, thirty-plus years in the vineyards, he has jaunt out World Champions, he has jaunt out Olympians – again free of charge. 


The Honourable Assemblyman from Bethel/Mt. Irvine mentioned that we really should not wait for these people to die off before we recognize them.


I want to get to a person who not in the sporting arena but more in the community service – I want to make mention of a very simple and humble man, a man from Lambeau – a man called, “Mr. William Mc Kenzie.”  Mr. Mc Kenzie has spent more than fifty (50) years doing community work.

  

I heard mention of Ms. Elizabeth Dennis, first woman to win the Sports Personality of the Year Award in the history of that particular product.  A product of Mr. William Mc Kenzie and his Cricketing Coach Programme that he had for women that was prominent in the 70s and the 80s because of him he jaunt out the first West Indian Cricketer from Tobago.  I know the tendencies is to think of Mr. Lincoln Roberts but the first West Indian would be Merlyn Edwards from Lambeau who made the West Indies Women Cricket Team. 


This is a man who did so much community work and in many times the community work was actual “bull work” he was not sitting on no committee all the time and just making decisions.   Let other people implement the decisions.  This is a man who was part of the team or the group of gentlemen in Lambeau who would build the Dorothy Moses Nursery School.  Men would give up their time on evenings, on weekends to build that school. 


The original Lambeau Community Centre which I want to thank the Secretary for making it a little more modern, keeping it on the spot but the original centre again, built “blood sweat and tears” by Mr. Mc Kenzie and other gentlemen from the village – free labour.  Again, before the era of the Tobago House of Assembly where “write and you shall receive.”


The Lambeau Credit Union – founding Member of that institution – the same I do not know if anybody is around who remember that era, probably Mrs. Groome-Duke as she ponders on the past, the same Land Rover Jeep that Mr. Mc Kenzie used to take his family to church on a Sunday is the same vehicle that had to transport cement, blocks, stone and lumber. 


Those are the days when you did not have Air Condition in those land rover jeeps; it did not have leather seats, but that was the village transport for any construction going on in the village.  He owned a boat and a seine, and whenever the football team, or the cricket team or any group had any fund raising ventures, he willingly gave up his jeep, the boat, the seine and says that is his contribution to the cause.  Go get your fish; if you need to transport the fish from point A to Point B, the jeep was available.  I really cannot say enough about Mr. Mc Kenzie.  Bear in mind, all of this was done long before the Tobago House of Assembly was even a thought of becoming a reality.  So no one could say that he was doing this to get into public office, because that idea, that concept was no way close to being realized.

  

Just as (I may be pushing it a bit) Nelson Mandela was the face against the fight for Apartheid, a little backdrop on Mr. Mandela. Some argued that Mr. Mandela did more for Apartheid, fighting against Apartheid by remaining in jail, and he was in there for about twenty-seven (27) years than if he was out.  The work he did, which would have been I do not know, ten/twelve (10/12) years before he went to jail, was enough to galvanize everybody to make him the face of the fight against Apartheid.  So whether he was in there for ten (10); fifteen )15); twenty-five (25) years, as far as South Africa was concerned, and as far as the rest of the World was concerned, Nelson Mandela epitomizes and became the fight against Apartheid.  


William Mc Kenzie was the face for the Peoples National Movement (PNM) in Tobago. [Desk thumping]  Some say that one man cannot carry a Political Party, but that may be so, but I shudder to think if this wonderful party called the PNM  did not have William Mc Kenzie sitting in this House for close to twenty-four (24) years, sixteen (16) of which he alone sat here.  [Laughter]  I do not think that anybody could really fathom sixteen (16) years, four (4) terms like a lonely voice in the wilderness.  Where would this wonderful party be if he had not weathered that storm?

   

The people of his community did not forget the years of service William Mc Kenzie gave them before he got into office, and they stood by him during those years when PNM was literally taboo in Tobago.  There are two (2) things that brought down individuals in public office, “Arrogance” and “Corruption”.  Despite his almost twenty-five (25) years of holding public office, to date, I have not heard one whisper linking William Sonny McKenzie to corruption or arrogance.  We know him in Lambeau as “Sony Mc”, we who even knows him closer as, “Dad”.  It is the same Sony Mc before THA, the same Sony Mac during his time in the THA and the same man thereafter.  This man epitomizes humility.  He maintains the same mauby lifestyle, not seeing the need to live the champagne lifestyle, his happiness came from helping people, not from showcasing material wealth.  If you want to see Lambeau people, or Tobagonians as a matter of fact, rail up, let anybody says anything against Sony Mc, and you will have a fight on your hands. 

 

The common trade of all the people that I have mentioned carry is that their contributions were done not of an attempt to get into public office, or get public recognition or adoration, but because they felt morally obligated to do so.  An old man in Lambeau once told me as a youngster, “Never look down on a man unless you are going to pick him up”.  


      In my personal and professional opinion, the criteria to select a national icon or hero must include the benefits derived by the community or country over generations by that said action or actions of the individual being considered. Such action should primarily if not totally be voluntary.  It will be literally impossible to put a price on the contributions made by the people mentioned, far less the number of people who benefitted from those contributions. 


Madam Presiding Officer, I dare submit that these people should be considered, in the same breath as Mr. Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson.  We must acknowledge these individuals and recognize them for the contributions that they have made.  As the Honourable Assemblyman from Bethel/Mt. Irvine mentioned, we could provide a source of inspiration for those coming or who will soon be Leaders, and who will soon be sit around this horseshoe.  It is against that backdrop Madam Presiding Officer, I want to again lend my support and sincerely hope that this Motion would not just be another Motion of the many motions that we have debated here.  I sincerely hope that the Executive Council would take a definitive stand and put some time lines as when we will implement this particular Motion.


Madam Presiding Officer, I thank you for your time and lend my support to this Motion. [Desk thumping]

[Mr. Jomo Pitt] [Desk thumping] Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer, for giving me the opportunity to say a few words, I stress the word, few words [Laughter] on this Motion.  


     I want to make a request to the Leader of Assemblyman Claudia Groome-Duke, in making up the order of Speakers; I humbly request that I come before the powerful Speaker and Assemblyman for Bethel/Mt. Irvine.[Laughter]  Anybody that speaks after him will be very much anti-climatic.  So, I humbly beseech that you consider that in the order of Speakers.


     Having said that, Madam Presiding Officer, I stand here in support of the Motion.   I do not think that enough can be said about Mr. Robinson and his contribution.  You go on the Internet, Google and there are pages of articles, pages of information on Mr. Robinson.  I too support that a monument is fitting of such an individual. 

 

      I also want to support what the Assemblyman for Bethel/Mt. Irvine and it is stated in the Motion.  We also have to recognize other individuals who have made a contribution to Tobago and the people of Tobago.  They may not be recognized nationally, regionally or internationally, like Mr. Robinson, but to the man on the street, this person had more of an impact on them, than Mr. Robinson.   We have heard various definitions of a hero and icons.  My definition, this is just a layman’s definition, of a national icon or a hero, is someone whose contribution or contributions has benefitted many over a long period of time.   I want to stress that it could either be one single action or a series of actions that has benefitted individuals.  I will give you an example of how one action can affect the lives of many. 

 

     We all know of Ms. Pamela Nicholson, Member of Parliament, Tobago stalwart.  I want to draw attention to her life before she became a politician.  I want to draw reference or highlight her contribution when she was just a High School teacher down at Scarborough Secondary School.  Prior to the early eighties, we have all heard of or know about the Intercol Football.  But prior to 1983, only the prestige schools were allowed to take part in Intercol - just as the name implies, “Intercologist.”  So it would be the Naparima Colleges, Queens Royal, Saint Mary’s, Fatima, those prestige schools.  Secondary schools were not allowed to take part in those competitions.  Somehow Ms. Nicholson, I do not think she did it diplomatically, because she is not that known for her subtlety, but it took her a while, but she really lobbied and fought for the cause for secondary schools to take part in the High School Football Competition.  Because she led the charge, the governing body of the Intercol Committee reviewed their policy and allowed Secondary Schools to take part in the competition.  That single act of hers, like I said to allow secondary schools to take part in the Competition, thus again, allowing Signal Hill Comprehensive to be one of the top schools, and I dare say the one that holds the record for the most Intercol titles.  Naparima just got it recently.  But again, they were allowed in the forties the fifties the sixties coming forward.  So, within the short space of time that Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive was allowed to play, it was enough to rack up the records which I think it is about ten (10) Intercol titles which is quite commendable.  I go further to say had it not been for that avenue, had that door not been open, the likes of Dwight Yorke would have never seen the light of day, and we wonder now what would have happened if Dwight Yorke did not have that opportunity.  So you go back and you reflect that because of one action, because of this initiative taken by Ms. Nicholson, a lot of people benefitted.   I cannot even imagine what High School Football would be without the Intercol Competition.  A lot of young footballers made their name from High School from the Youth Progrmme into national selection - again, because they were spotted and highlighted in the Intercol Competition.




The Member for Signal Hill/Lambeau.

Assemblyman
2.35 P.M

       It is good to say thanks.  Some may think that to put a monument is a waste of time and a waste of money.  But when you are born and your children come and there is something to speak to them, as an interesting turn of events.  Before I sit down, Madam Presiding Officer, I want to personally and I want to encourage the others around the horseshoe to in their own spear time, take the time to help to make a hero.  Long after we are gone, we need others to take over this space, and to manage this space.  So we too must become inspirational.  I do not know what my demise would be like, or when it will be, or how it will be, but when I am gone, I would like to be remembered as someone who changed my space.  While we memorialized others, I want to challenge us to make the kinds of contributions, so that we will change our worlds, we will change our space, we will change our Tobago, we will influence lives for the better, so that we too will be recorded as heroes when we pass.  


      I want to speak to the youth of Tobago, the young men of Bethel/Mt Irvine from Charlotteville to Crown Point, the young women, I want to say to you that Tobago is looking for heroes.  Heroes who will not just settled for an early morning work; heroes who will pick up their books and get an education; heroes who will become entrepreneurs and take their future in their hands; and work by the powers of God to  make significant changes to their lives and to this island; we are looking for heroes who will put down the drugs and take up some kind of life skill that will change their community; we are looking for heroes who will make sure that this tourist destination is a place that is weathered  and persons who would come back and come back again.  We are looking for heroes who are not just waiting on the Government or the Tobago House of Assembly to make something happen, but people who are making things happen by their space.  


      Before I sit down, I have to remember one other hero, Zelda Kernahan - Zelda Alfred Kernahan of Bethel.  She to me is one of my heroes quietly, I have not told her, but I hope she hears about this today.  Every year, on Emancipation time, Zelda Kernahan sets up a dirt oven in Bethel and bakes bread, pone, sweet bread and she invites tourist to come to her local space, no big area and there she celebrates the heritage of our Tobago.  Not waiting for any handout anywhere, but doing it her own way.  She is a hero in her own right.  Maybe we should celebrate before she walks off the scene. 

 

     I want to just say, Madam Presiding Officer, that I support this Motion, and I trust that my contribution would have made some impacts and I hope that all of us will see to inspire somebody to bring a change in this island.  

 

I thank you.  [Desk thumping]


Assemblyman

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer, for allowing me to contribute to this Motion that I think is very important and timely.


I consider Romans 13:7 the last part.  It says; “We should give honour to whom honour is due.”  Of course, it would be good to give honour while someone is alive that they can enjoy the accolades.  But even when they are dead it is good to memorialize them, Madam Presiding Officer, so that the young and the new generation can be reminded of the influence of the inspiration and the legacy of the life that was lived.


Our last two contributors have spoken at length about the hero – our own local hero Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson and the contribution that he has made to Tobago and to Trinidad and Tobago and to the rest of the region.  And somebody might ask me a hero and for some of our young people who have been filled with cartoons, they would probably think that a hero is a guy with a cape running about saving lives but a hero does not necessarily wear a cape. 


A hero is a person distinguished by his courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities, a person in the opinion of others who has done great deeds and has done great qualities and has performed heroic acts and is a role model for the rest of the society.  That person is a hero.

  

Therefore, as we talk about commemorating the life of the Honourable Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, I am actually thinking that the end of the Motion inspires us in this room to call all of our young Tobagonians to consider that this island and this nation need more heroes.


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House mandate the Executive Council to pursue measures that will ensure that our heroes and icons are recognized in an effective and dignified manner.”

 

      The call is not just for us to recognize the heroes but for us to understand why we recognize them.

 

       As I perused in my preparation for this debate this evening, Madam Presiding Officer, the Web and other sources, I found out that for thousands of years monuments were erected around the world, not just to take up a space for a beautification so that tourist can enjoy but monuments were put up – (I had two folds - it is good that the tourist can enjoy the space) as a reminder or as a warning for the next generation.   So, when you saw a war monument it meant we were strong and bold and we were courageous and victorious, and so it was accolades to those who won the war but it was a message for others (do not try this war thing again because we are going to beat you) that kind of ideas stock in my mind.  So I am reminded that if we were to set up the kind of structure that allows us to memorialize those who contribute as heroes to our island the legacy will remain for generations that will speak to our young people so that they become inspired to themselves and make significant contributions. 


I was reminded of a conversation I had with a gentleman travelling to Connecticut one day on the train and he asked me, “Who would you like to write your epitaph?”  I started thinking for a while as to who in my family I would like to write something about me.  Then he said to me, “Stop thinking, you must write it and you must write it by the kinds of decisions that you make everyday, you must write it by the kinds of contributions you make to your world everyday so that when you are dead, all somebody needs to do is to inscribe it.”  And it really inspired me. 


I am sure that if we were able to wake up some of the dead in the grave and talk to them - that they lived their lives knowing quite well that it will impact somebody one day and this kind of orchestrated living if you will, Madam Presiding Officer, is what we are celebrating in Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson and it is the score to celebrate the lives of many more of our heroes who have lived and who have died on our soil.


    There are so much legacies on this island that we do not even know about.  I was talking to my staff about this Motion last week and I got to know a piece of information about my own Bethel that I did not know about.  We talked about Goat Race and I am sure there are all kinds of persons (and I do not know around the Horseshoe if anybody knows the history) but I am told that the Tobago history records that the first Goat Race was run in Bethel – Montgomery at Cashew Hill.  Anybody knows that?  Honourable Member for Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden is shaking her head.  She knows the history.

     I am told that Samuel Decosta Callender was among those who ran Goat.   If you remember what Cashew Hill looked like, it was a breakneck kind of exercise because it was downhill with rough roads - Goat Race in Tobago.  Now, if these things can be chronicled and we can have monuments put up in strategic areas where we recall the history.  We may not have a picture of Decosta Callender but for sure the young of that same linage would be able to be inspired that somebody, my great, great, great grandfather did something significant and therefore, I must take stock of my life and I must live my life in a manner that when I am gone they could talk about me too.  That is the kind of outcome that I expect from this Motion is left as a legacy to inspire, to advice and to warn.  


      Madam Presiding Officer, today, while I am speaking I should be at a funeral - funeral of the late Dr. Egbert Brebnor.  I heard the Honourable Member for Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden saying, that a hero is not necessarily one of those who was in the political lines, who change the world politically but somebody who impacted the lives of any community to bring about change and when we talk about the man who has done some change Dr. Brebnor in his humble way has made significant contributions to the development of our country, of our island, of our region.  When I saw last night at the Wake the amount of Ministers throughout the region – Pentecostal men who were talking about the significant impact that he has made. 


I heard something – I need to correct it, I stand corrected in repeating the statement.  If I am not mistaken, last night it was said that he was the first Pentecostal man on this island to hold a Doctorate.  That is something significant. 

 

There are so many others on this island who have contributed but we do not know their names – significant contributions were made.    So, at the quest or the pursuit of those that legacy, of those who have made significant contributions should be ours to make sure we can record them and tell them to our children so that they will be inspired and they will be warned to make significant contributions.


       In 2014 CSP approached the Bethel community and they have set up just above the Bethel/Montgomery grounds an area designated for memorializing those who made significant contributions to the Bethel Community.   I remember standing in this House and calling out a few names sometime before.  But when we think about the legacy of Bethel, a rich heritage.  If we are beginning to name persons in music you cannot forget Mc Carthy Sandy Louis – “Calypso Rose” – significant contributions in music to our island, to our country.  Where were there, we can talk about others who have made significant contributions but I do not just want to stay in Bethel I just want to inspire you to look within your own communities and you would find those who have made and are still making contributions and need to be recognized and honoured.

2.25 P.M

Member for Bethel/Mt. Irvine.

[Desk thumping]


2.15 P.M

In identifying with their past, they strengthened their beliefs system in themselves that propels them to success.  In sharing and preserving their past, having them know their past, it is critical to ensuring that we preserve the traditions and values that brought us to where we are today.  That is why; we continue to have programmes like the Heritage Festivals.   


     The Heritage Festival is a platform for having our young people see, experience and understand the rich background that they came from. That is why we continue to refine the product to show that there is more than can be done with it in educating our young people. But perhaps we need to go further, given the fact that we do not have as many extended family structures, where you have grandparents and great grandparents who can tell of the stories to the young people in the home. We have to see that as a significant gap in our own development and put systems in place to ensure that we can close that gap. So, one of the things that we need to consider, again, alongside putting monuments, is to find a way to institutionalize the history of our own Tobagoness; the history of Tobago; the history of our people who have built Tobago, who have struggled and sacrificed to get us where we are today. We need to institutionalize that through our Education System.  It is critical to our future, our children have to develop pride within themselves, it is the only way that we can be assured of a future.  But today also extends beyond the life of Mr. Robinson and towards those across communities who struggled and sacrificed to give us who we are today.


That is why, I want to really commend the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Councillor Gary Melville, for the recent Signage Programme that we have in Tobago.  Yes, it started out with a few challenges, but if you really examine the programme and understand the potential of the programme, to highlight strong families and recognize community icons, then we would know that we must commend the Programme and say well done Councillor Melville.  [Desk thumping]  But this was not done in isolation, because he collaborated with the Village Councils throughout this island, to embrace their recommendations in terms of how they expect their streets to be named and who are the persons that they want to give credit towards in the naming of those streets.  Therefore, I commend the Village Councils for also being part of the process. But while the villages - I have identified a few and the Assembly has facilitated and will continue to facilitate like activities, is a lot more to be done.

  

     Yes, we should take pride in the fact that we would have named the Airport after Mr. Robinson and we did it while he was still there to appreciate how much we recognize his contributions.  We would have named the Calder Hall Recreational Ground after Eric Hovell, known in that community; we also have the Scarborough Library, where we would have named Dr. Eastlyn Mc Kenzie, James Biggart and Susan Craig - we would have named parts of the facility in paying tribute to their contributions.  But there are a lot more that can be done.  I hope the recent recommendation of the Masonhallians for the naming of the grounds after Elizabeth Dennis who is the first and only woman to win the Sports Personality of the Year in Cricket and we must say commendations to what Ms. Dennis would have achieved and so hopefully, that too will come to past.  But there is a lot more that can be done across the island.  We have the Shaw Park Facility - that is a Multifaceted Facility that a number of Tobagonians can be recognized in that space.  We have the community centres across the islands where the village councils can be encouraged to recommend whether it is naming parts of the facility to pay tribute to the icons of their communities.  We also have recreational grounds, Kendal Aquatic Centre; we have numerous facilities built across this island that we can utilize in paying tribute to the hardworking Tobagonians who would have laid the ground for which we all walk on now.  But I continue to say that all of them I am sure, the mantra also was about, “Making Tobago proud”.  Therefore, today, it is really about making Tobago proud; creating a consciousness among Tobagonians about the tireless efforts of those who sacrificed to ensure we have the quality of life that we have today.  In many regards, the true tests of our countries’  development, it is not our plans for the future, but of equal importance is how we treat with our past.  


      Today, I ask all of us to consider that alongside placing a monument in memory of Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson and  paying tribute to all others  who would have contributed in liked fashion, that in addition to their contributions it is for us to finally achieve what they all have clamoured for which is to make Tobago proud.  Especially in the case of Arthur Raymond Napoleon Robinson, it is time for us as Tobagonians, to achieve the dream of the journey he started of Tobago’s autonomy.

  

      So with that, Madam Presiding Officer, I wish to state that I fully support the Motion carried here, today of ensuring that we have an appropriate space to recognize the contributions of Mr. Robinson and additionally, to recognize the contributions of Tobagonians over the years who would have struggled and sacrificed to ensure that they left a better Tobago than it was back then. 


Thank you. [Desk thumping]



2.05 P.M

Taking hard decisions that most likely were very unpopular at the time.  But he had to do it, and he did it many times during those periods.  It is those hard decisions that has given us the opportunity to be where we are today and to continue on the journey that he has laid a firm foundation.  But in order to achieve all of this, he had to have some special attributes that he would have relied on.   For me, the first one that is key is to “Never forget where you came from.”


We heard that whilst he continued to fly the flag in Trinidad he ensured that people wherever they came from knew where Tobago was, knew what a Tobagonian is.   Therefore, he has to be given credit for that.  Even in his death, he insisted that he be brought home to be with his people.


The next quality that continues to distinguish him apart from the rest is his commitment to integrity, a commitment which has brought him a claim not just locally, not just regionally but internationally.  “Doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do” was his mantra and he never waivered from that mantra to the day he left.


He was able through that to create landmark decision in our history.  It is his forthrightness and courage that allowed him to withstand the attack that famous day when he said, “Attack with full force.”  How many of us today should we be placed in the same position would have the courage to do such?  How many of us would take a bullet for our island or even our country and that is why we have to admire the forthrightness and courage of this gentleman.  Putting country first before life was not a hard decision for him.


His resilience throughout his life is also something that we must admire.  As I said before, he never took the easy road and when you look at his life he led through very challenging times every step of the way and he never let it stop him he continue to grow from strength to strength.


He was hardworking but again, we crowned it all with his belief in himself, he always believed in himself and his capacity to make a difference and make a change. 


So, to the aspiring Leaders and I use the term loosely to apply to all sectors out there because at the end of the day we are all leaders in our own rights:-


  • Leaders in our homes;

  • Leaders in our communities;

  • Leaders in the industry – everywhere.


Therefore, to the Leaders everywhere, I urge you to lead by example,

as Robinson did.  Lead by integrity and be prepared to do the hard work and never give up.  As long as you believe in yourself and God, you can achieve your purpose.


When I listened to the struggles of young people today, their complaints, their challenges, the designers who want to get their items out, who want to stay right from here – in Capital of Paradise design and export to the rest of the world.


The agro-processors who are trying to reach larger markets, they are upgrading their skills from here but they struggle.


The students who are preparing for Cape and CXC to give them an opportunity of a better life. 


The farmers who struggle to satisfy even the local market.


The Film makers who are attempting to break ground in the global market.


The athletes who competes to be recognized and be the best in their game.   I want all of them to remember that there was a child in Castara who made it possible for them to believe that they can actually achieve what they set out to do.   I want them also to recognize that that child back then was able to achieve it without the current policies of the Assembly which provides more opportunities for more Tobagonians to reach their potential.  Back then, Robinson did not have access to scholarships that we have now as part of the Assembly to support young Tobagonians who in addition to Government Assisted Tertiary Education (GATE) need some additional assistance to achieve their goal.


Back then, he did not have access to the grants and the loans available at the Business Development Unit to bolster our young entrepreneurs and give them a starting point so that they can take off.


Back then, there were no modern facilities for the fishermen that gives them the opportunity to lift their standard of providing fish for the community and hopefully to go further and provide for outside of this island.


There was no packaging Plant back then that provides the opportunity for our farmers to be able to package their products and get it outside of the local market.


We did not have the number of cruise ships that we have coming in now with the tourist available for us to provide our products to sell to them.


So, I am saying to our people of Tobago that you have more opportunities now than Robinson had back then and therefore, if he could make it to where he got then, certainly, you can make it too.


Therefore, in addition to maximizing the opportunities available, if you emulate the qualities that he espoused; integrity, hardwork, resilience, courage and belief in your God and self, then certainly you too will succeed.


This is why today’s Motion is timely because future generations must know their past in order to have the formula to achieve the future.



Madam Presiding Officer, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this distinguished debate today, honouring one of our very own.  I must commend the Representative for Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden, for her eloquent contribution chronicling the history and the journey of Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, and presenting a case for a public monument in his memory.  This act we embraced as our duty to country  because men of honour deserve to be honoured and are in fact an honour unto themselves, their families and their country and more particularly, in Tobago, our island.  


      The young people must know that Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson is our Tobagonian inspiration.  It proves that a young Tobagonian from Calder Hall; Castara; Crown Point; or Charlotteville, any part of Tobago, can journey to become the President of Trinidad and Tobago.  

 

       As we reflect and admire the achievements of Mr. Robinson and consider how to pay tribute to his contributions, it is critical for us to accept that whilst a physical tribute is a must, the best tribute that we can pay is to emulate the strong attributes which was a key part to his success.  He distinguished himself as a leader of leaders; not taking the easy road, not running away when times got tough; he  alongside others champion the fight for Tobago’s autonomy  - a fight that we continue to struggle with today.  He was there for the implementation of the first Assembly as was explained by the mover of the Motion.  It was not an easy feat when you think about implementing all the new systems and the policies that were needed as a part of that first Assembly.  He was there for the Black Power Movement; he was there during the times of recession.  It meant that he had to be prepared to take some hard decisions.


Secretary of Community Development and Culture. [Hon. Dr. Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus]

Assemblyman
1.45 P.M

Madam Presiding Officer, A. N. R. Robinson did it all. 


Madam Presiding Officer, he is best known internationally as being Trinidad Prime Minister held hostage during an attempted Coup in 1990.  He is also known as the first active politician to become President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago - largely, a ceremonial role before his time in his proactive role as President between 1997 and 2003.    Arthur N. R. Robinson sparked off debate about whether Trinidad and Tobago was moving towards an Executive Presidency.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Attempted Coup in July 1990 in which A. N. R. Robinson and Members of his Government, other Members of Parliament and Media workers were held hostage became global news.  Mr. Robinson was prepared to be shot in the knee in order to stand up for his rights – a man who was prepared to put his life on the line for what he believed in despite a gun against his head.  He was a courageous gentleman.


Madam Presiding Officer, outside of the National political arena, A. N. R. Robinson pushed vigorously for what became the International Criminal Court.  He served as a Director of the foundation for the establishment of an International Criminal Court for more than fifteen (15) years breathing new life into the global court concept which came to function or which came to fruition with the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002.


Madam Presiding Officer, this was something that A. N. R. Robinson always spoke of fondly after the ICC was put in place and had started to work.  International Criminal Court (ICC) President George Sankion Song said in 2011 that A. N. R. Robinson had been the grandfather of the ICC.


Madam Presiding Officer, Mr. Robinson demonstrated his enduring love for Tobago as he built up his role in the political arena to ensure that Tobago did not get lost in the busy agenda of Trinidad and Tobago.  So during this time as Prime Minister in many State visits by International Madam Presiding Officer, the Attempted Coup in July 1990 in which A. N. R. Robinson and Members of his Government, other Members of Parliament and Media workers were held hostage became global news.  Mr. Robinson was prepared to be shot in the knee in order to stand up for his rights – a man who was prepared to put his life on the line for what he believed in despite a gun against his head.  He was a courageous gentleman.


Madam Presiding Officer, outside of the National political arena, A. N. R. Robinson pushed vigorously for what became the International Criminal Court.  He served as a Director of the foundation for the establishment of an International Criminal Court for more than fifteen (15) years breathing new life into the global court concept which came to function or which came to fruition with the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002.


Madam Presiding Officer, this was something that A. N. R. Robinson always spoke of fondly after the ICC was put in place and had started to work.  International Criminal Court (ICC) President George Sankion Song said in 2011 that A. N. R. Robinson had been the grandfather of the ICC.


Madam Presiding Officer, Mr. Robinson demonstrated his enduring love for Tobago as he built up his role in the political arena to ensure that Tobago did not get lost in the busy agenda of Trinidad and Tobago.  So during this time as Prime Minister in many State visits by International Heads of Government and Heads of State included in the Official Itinerary of the usual Trinidad based duties, a Summit in or visit to Tobago would always be a part of the Official visit.


Madam Presiding Officer, many global leaders would find themselves in a convoy of official vehicles being guided around this beautiful island of Tobago before returning to Port-of-Spain to sign hemispheric trade deals.   One colleague said after his death that A. N. R. Robinson had put the “and Tobago” in Trinidad and Tobago. 


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to express our appreciation for the fact that Arthur Raymond Napoleon Robinson was born in Tobago and never lost his Tobagoness.  He has always been in a position where he would fight for Tobago and Tobago’s future.  We are grateful for his vision and we are more grateful for his courage and his conviction.  We are grateful for his steadfastness and also for the fact that he remained consistent.


Madam Presiding Officer, this was a man of character and class who recognized that his status was about the position and that it matters not who is in the seat but it matters how you conducted yourself to ensure that at the end of the day this position and this august institution is respected.



Madam Presiding Officer, how can we honour the legacy of a man who said “Listen, there must be class and honour in how we govern our society.”  We all recalled his quotes: 


“Bad habits are gathered at slow degrees as streams running into rivers and rivers into seas.  So things happen day by day, you accept them and they keep creeping on until you are overwhelmed you cannot do anything more about them.”


Madam Presiding Officer, we in this Administration have been keeping the light shinning on our heroes, our icons and our illustrious sons and daughters of Tobago.


Madam Presiding Officer, the main objective in honouring and recognizing our heroes, our illustrious persons of our communities, our society would be to honour them appropriately when they are alive and to honour them in a manner that their exploits and their contributions will be remembered and appreciated for as long as possible and by as many people as possible after they are dead.   So it is with us honouring our icons and our heroes.


Madam Presiding Officer, we can look historically at the People’s National Movement (PNM) Administration in the Tobago House of Assembly over the last decade and we would know that we have made tremendous efforts and breakthroughs in acknowledging and recognizing our heroes.


Madam Presiding Officer, I can draw reference to the Motions in this House one of which speaks to the hierarchy of awards for our icons.  Madam Presiding Officer, the Tobago Medal of Honour, we would recall the presentation to our contributors like A. P. T. James, of course, A. N. R. Robinson and James Biggart.  We would recall the A. N. R. Robinson Airport, the Victor E. Bruce Financial Complex and our streets in our communities.  We also appreciate the naming of our streets in memory of  our heroes, of our hard working people who have given their lives and devotion to this country.


Madam Presiding Officer, all of us would recall our tribute at all levels for our youths, our Youth Awards, our Sport Awards, our communities, our Divisions, our heritage, our contributors in the sporting field, tribute to them and our achievers.


Madam Presiding Officer, we see this as very significant in the lives and for continuity and sustainability of our development here in Tobago.


Madam Presiding Officer, how best do we pay tribute to a man of this calibre, a man like A. N. R. Robinson, how best do we pay tribute to a man such as A. N. R. Robinson - it is by emulating the positive attributes which he had.


Madam Presiding Officer, this is why we are fighting at this point in time to increase the powers of the Tobago House of Assembly Act because the only hope for the next generation of Tobagonians is a powerful Act that is respected by all and increasing the level of autonomy for all.  And so, Madam Presiding Officer, that is how we in Tobago must honour the man, that is how we must honour his achievements by protecting the institution which he fought for and almost died for, that is how we should do it.


Madam Presiding Officer, it is the lives of Tobagonians not about us, it is the lives and the future of Tobagonians that we are talking about.  It is something to be passionate about, it is something to be serious about and this is something that transcends politics and politicians.


It transcends political parties; it transcends winning and losing elections; it is about ensuring that we protect and preserve what we have.  


          Madam Presiding Officer, Mr. Robinson was: 


  • Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly;  

  • Prime Minister;

  • President;

  • P.N.M.;

  • N.A.R; 



  • D.A.C; 

  • ACDC; 

  • A Lawyer; 

  • Scholar; 

  • An Author; 

  • A National man; 

  • A Local man; 

  • A Regional man; 

  • An International man; and

 

Most of all, he was: 


  • A Tobagonian.  

So, we look at the kind of honours, the kind of tributes:

  

  • In May, 2011 for his great service to this Country, the Airport in Tobago was renamed, the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport; replacing the name Crown Point International Airport;


  • In November 2011, A.N.R Robinson was the recipient of Tobago’s Highest Award, the Tobago Medal of Honour. During the investiture of the President Thomas Boni Yai of Benim, as a titled Yoruba, Chieftain on December 20th 2008 the reigning Uni of Ife, Nigeria, Olobostu referred to President Robinson and his wife as previous recipients of the same  royal honour.   


  • The Order of the Caribbean Community was awarded to A.N.R. Robinson in 1998; 


  • CARICOM said on the April, 10th 2014, he was revered as one of Trinidad’s outstanding Political Leaders whose vision and dream was for the political emancipation of his people from the grips of colonialism and their social and economic well-being.

Madam Presiding Officer, tributes came from:


  •  The global community from CARICOM and across Trinidad                      and Tobago’s political spectrum; 

  • The International Criminal Court hailed Mr. Robinson as the Godfather of the Global Court for his early lobbying.  

     So, Madam Presiding Officer, we in this august House, feels very strongly that a public monument be instituted at an appropriate location as a focal point for the memory; for the achievements of Mr. A.N.R. Robinson and other heroes and icons of the island community.  So, this can become a focal point in keeping with the memory of his achievements and contributions to not only to Tobago, not only to Trinidad and Tobago, but to the region and to the international community.  


We also, appeal that this House mandate the Executive Council to pursue measures that will ensure that our heroes and our icons are recognized in an effective and dignified manner. 



Madam Presiding Officer, we feel very strongly that this would be the type of a tribute, the type of recognition that would meet out to the illustrious Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson and our other heroes, our other icons, those persons who would have developed our country and enabled us as a people to feel liberated and to enhance our autonomy on this beautiful island.   I beg to move. 

 

Thank you. [Desk thumping]


Question proposed.



Assemblyman
1.32 P.M

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.  I stand to move the following Motion tabled in my name.

I read:


WHEREAS, Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson had the distinction of being the only national to have served as President and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago;


AND WHEREAS, the former Prime Minister and President was a pivotal figure in the struggle for Tobago’s autonomy and eventually became the first Chairman of the restored Tobago House of Assembly (THA);


AND WHEREAS, Arthur N. R. Robinson created the foundation for the establishment of the International Criminal Court;

AND WHEREAS, there is no public monument nor sacred space to recognize and symbolize the achievements and contributions of this exemplary Tobagonian;

BE IT RESOLVED that a public monument be instituted at an appropriate location, as a focal point in memory of the achievements and contributions of Arthur N. R. Robinson;


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House mandate the Executive Council to pursue measures that will ensure that our heroes and icons are recognized in an effective and dignified manner.”


      Madam Presiding Officer, the intent of this Motion, is to commemorate the remembrance of the passing of Mr. Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson on the April, 9th 2014 and proposed the building of a public monument at a place designed and designated as a focal point for specific memory on his behalf and on behalf of other heroes and icons of Tobago, as a means of demonstrating a sense of continuity and allegiance to the past.  Madam Presiding Officer, this proposal for official memory and remembrance, is a monumental effort to continue to honour A.N.R Robinson and other heroes of this island community for their devotion, dedication, and lifetime struggle; and sacrifice which contributes to make the people of Tobago, more liberated and for all of us to enjoy a level of self-determination and autonomy.  

 

I saw a quotation from the US National Cemeteries that states: 

“Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of the people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”

  

Madam Presiding Officer, this is a very interesting motion, very timely, very thought provoking, both from the standpoint of the content and the viewpoint of the context.   Somebody like Arthur Napoleon Robinson and other heroes and icons had to be honoured in a way that is sustainable and in a way that is very momentous.  The tribute has to be significant. Madam Presiding Officer, a public monument, is the obvious choice, a public sacred space, as a symbolic representation of remembrance.

  

Madam Presiding Officer, Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson who died at the age of eighty-seven (87) years April, 9th 2014 in Port of Spain, was a player in many of the key developments that forms the political scene in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean region - so from West Indies Federation to this august restored House of Assembly. 


Madam Presiding Officer, after returning from Britain, in the 1950s, and working as a Lawyer, he became a founding Member with Eric Williams of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and was briefly a Member of Parliament in a short-lived West Indies Federation in 1958, the region’s first attempt at political integration.  


When Eric Williams led Trinidad and Tobago to independence, after the Federation collapsed, Robinson became the country’s first Minister of Finance and from 1961 to 1967, he was responsible for the establishment of the country’s post-colonial financial landscape.  But, Madam Presiding Officer, he resigned as a Member of Parliament (MP) and left the PNM over the government’s handling of a failed Black Power Revolution in 1970.  His political career took a dip, but he went on to build a power base here in Tobago, championing for enhanced Tobago autonomy leading him to become the first Chairman of this restored Tobago House of Assembly. 

  

After gaining re-election, Madam Presiding Officer, as Member of Parliament for Tobago East, he then piloted through Parliament the Tobago House of Assembly Act in 1980 which provided substantial autonomy for Tobago. 


Madam Presiding Officer, one of the most critical events in the political life of Arthur N. R. Robinson, was his elevation to the Office of Prime Minister.  The Office which he believed he was destined to occupy as he wrote in his autobiography:


“I somehow knew that I was being prepared all along to assume responsibilities of an enormous nature.   After all, my father had called me, “Napoleon” and I remembered the story of how Napoleon battled his way through Europe.”  



From Prime Minister, Madam Presiding Officer, and then to President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and as a global player who pushed for the establishment of the International Criminal Court.  





44 th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2013 - 2017 Session

TOBAGO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

19 May 2016
UNREVISED
REVISED
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