An honorary doctorate was conferred on Aldwyn Roberts (Lord Kitchener) posthumously, during the 2017 graduation ceremony at the Graduation Pavilion, UTT (University of Trinidad and Tobago) O’Meara Campus last Thursday.
The Doctor of Arts certificate was received by Quweina Roberts, daughter of the late Grandmaster, from President Anthony Carmona. Congratulations were offered by Prof Sarim Al-Zubaidy, UTT president.
Asked how she felt on receiving the certificate, Roberts said: “At last! I was really happy at that, because to see that he has been recognised for his lifetime of achievements, it speaks volumes.”
However, she lamented that cultural practitioners are too often forgotten.
“We tend to forget a lot of our cultural practitioners and icons, but they are a part of our tourism product, and they play a critical role in the development of our culture. Here we have Daddy and the likes producing the body of work that the world wants to hear and experience...It’s a bit too late, but better late than never. We take way too long to do things here, but I am very happy.”
In 1969, Kitchener was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver). In 1993, although a petition was circulated asking for him to be given the Trinity Cross, as TT’s highest civilian award was then named, the government chose to give him a lesser award instead. Roberts turned the offer down.
The commendation of Kitchener read at Thursday’s award ceremony said he contributed immensely to the enhancement and globalisation of the national song, calypso,and his innate musical ability saw him composing and singing calypsoes as a teenager and quickly rising to fame, becoming one of the best calypsonians in the country within a couple of years of his debut.
In 1948 Kitchener boarded the Empire Windrush for England, and on his arrival, performed the specially-written song London Is the Place for Me. Within two years he was a regular performer on BBC radio, and was much in demand for live performances.
His prominence continued throughout the 1950s, when calypso achieved international success. Kitchener became a very important figure to those first 5,000 West Indian migrants to the UK. His music resonated with them. His composition Cricket, Lovely Cricket, to celebrate the West Indies cricket team’s first victory over England in England, in the second Test at Lord’s in June 1950, was one of the first widely known West Indian songs.
However, when called to come back home, the Grandmaster did so and unleashed a slew of hits beginning with his 1963 road march The Road.
Through a successful career spanning more than six decades, Lord Kitchener won the coveted Road March title on 11 occasions, the first with Jump In Line in 1946, and the last 30 years later with Flag Woman. It is a feat that has not been repeated by any other artiste to date.
The year before, Kitch, as he was fondly called, won his one and only Calypso Monarch title with Tribute to Spree Simon and Fever.
Kitch also managed and performed at the Calypso Revue Tent for more than 30 years. As a musical and lyrical genius, he composed over 500 calypsoes on themes that included politics, social commentary, humour and double entendre.
He was also a talented jazz musician and his Panorama compositions were a hallmark of his greatness. Year after year his songs were the popular Panorama choice for the majority of steelbands, thanks to the catchy melodies and harmonic complexity of his compositions.
Though Kitch strongly objected to the growing popularity of soca music, relenting, he produced his first soca song Sugar Bum Bum, which became one of his most successful singles.
Campus lecturer Richard Pierre concluded Pierre concluded: “A world-renowned entertainer and calypsonian, Lord Kitchener has positively contributed to the national psyche and the world at large through his music, calypso music.”