FAYOLA Lane touched the face of her Baba (father) Awise Olu Sino Amono Ifayomi (Fred Mitchell, the calypsonian Composer) as he lay in his white and brown casket. She kissed his forehead and thanked him for his love and guidance.
“It was an honour to know you. I will forever be grateful,” she whispered as her tears flowed at his funeral at JE Guide Funeral Home, San Fernando, on Monday morning.
Earlier as she eulogised him in a very uplifting and spirited farewell in the Orisha tradition, Fyola, Composer’s adopted daughter, credited him with giving her a chance to live. “I was a seven-month premature baby. I was sickly and no one believed I would survive. Not even my parents.
“Baba offered to adopt me along with his wife (Cynthia Charles) because according to him, he was moving with a mysterious spirit and he knew that if I were to have a fighting chance in this world it would be under his care and tutelage.
“And he was right. I cannot imagine how my life would have been without his guidance, his nurturing, his training. Baba was unrelenting and meticulous in my upbringing. He didn’t want me to simply have an African name, he wanted to ensure my name was in alignment with my destiny and so, divination and a naming ceremony was conducted, and I am I now known as Fayola Abiola Dayo.
“He often told me, ‘Fayola you are different, not like the rest. You do not have the luxury of behaving like the rest,’” she said.
Although he was remembered as an entertainer, a Hummingbird Medal (Silver) recipient, founder of many sports and cultural bodies and great contributor to the Orisha community, to Fayola, Composer was the stern father.
“He was truly a man of many talents and a man who wore many hats, but what impressed me most was the legacy he left. His unrelenting work towards the attainment of Iwa Pele (good behaviour).
“He was a stickler for doing things the correct way, following protocol, exercising diplomacy. Book work, as he would call it, came first and foremost. If you came second in a test, he would question you as to why you did not come first.”
Fayola said he wanted the best not only for his children, Juliet Mitchell Dumas, Kenlis and Ricky Charles and herself, “but also the other young people around him. He would bring the neighbourhood children together, using sports as a means. He was an avid cricketer and enjoyed all sports. This was how the Barataria Ball Players Sports and Cultural Club was formed.”
“He was a true visionary. He was a mentor,” she said, a fact supported by the many mourners who recalled how Composer shaped and influenced their lives. Among them was Winston “Gypsy” Peters former culture minister and now chairman of the National Carnival Commission.
He said, “Composer taught me everything I know. He moulded me into what I am. I am extremely grateful to have had him in my life since I was 13 years old.”
One of Composer’s sons, Ricky, describing his father as a visionary, spoke of the great love he had for Ricky’s mother Cynthia, whom he met when he was 12. He also paid tribute to his mother for devoting the past 62 years of her life to the late calypsonian.
Akinde Rudder said Composer, who was born in Cedros, tried to raise his children to “be assets to TT, not liabilities.”
She said a foundation will be opened in his name to continue the legacy of the Night Vigil, a ceremony held on the night before the Emancipation Day holiday, on its tenth anniversary in 2019.
After the funeral, a procession was led through the streets of San Fernando before the body was interred at the Roodal Cemetery.