The death of cultural pioneer and researcher John Cupid represents the loss of a national icon who contributed to culture for decades, Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) chairman Khafra Kambon said. “I strongly admired him for his work and commitment,” Kambon added.
Cupid died on October 9, aged 88. Details of his death were not provided. The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts in a statement, said that it joins the cultural community in mourning this loss. Cupid was a pioneer of public Emancipation celebrations even before the declaration of the Emancipation Day holiday in 1985. He was the first person to stage a re-enactment of the 1881 Canboulay Riots, the ministry said.
He was a pioneer of cultural celebrations as part of Point Fortin Borough Day and was played a crucial role in developing support systems for community organisations involved in the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy competition. He established a programme of cultural workshops across the country and worked for decades with the National Carnival Commission (NCC).
“In African tradition it is said when an elder dies an entire library burns down. John Cupid was a true library of Trinidad and Tobago who devoted his life to celebrating our history, mas and so many other elements of culture. He paved the way for us to have many of the festivals and observances we take for granted today. We thank him for his service, his work and his love for T&T culture. May he rest in peace,” the Ministry said.
Kambon said that even before the ESC was formed, Cupid was involved in organising Emancipation commemorations in Point Fortin. He said Emancipation Day was removed from the calendar since 1920 with the substitution of Columbus Day or Discovery Day. Kambon said it was revived by the Black Power Movement in 1970, and around the late 70s, Cupid and late rapso artist Lancelot Layne were organising Emancipation celebrations.
“He was a significant figure for that and for general cultural activities. Always one of our major cultural figures.”
Kambon recalled the last time he saw Cupid was in 2015, at Canboulay re-enactment where Cupid was a regular attendee. “Even though he was aged and in declining years but everything about the culture was so much in his blood.”
Cupid received the Public Service Medal of Merit in 2003, was appointed Honorary Distinguished Fellow in 2006 by the University of Trinidad and Tobago and received a slew of cultural awards from various bodies including TUCO, NCC and the National Action Cultural Committee.