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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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Letters to the Editor

The national status of pan

THE EDITOR: Research via the Heritage Library, Nalis, indicates “that although organisations such as Pan Trinbago and the National Steel Orchestra were established through acts of Parliament, apart from the steel pan being declared the national (musical) instrument by the Prime Minister (the late Patrick Manning) in his 1992 Independence Day address to the nation, we could not locate any Hansard records of it being established by an Act of Parliament.”

Pan Trinbago’s website advises that it was “formally incorporated by an act of Parliament in 1986 (Act No 5 of 1986). The act inferred corporate status on Pan Trinbago, set forth its aims and objectives and conferred extensive powers on the organisation to act locally and internationally in all manners to further the development of the steel pan and protect the interest and welfare of the members of steelbands.”

The above begs the question: What criteria were used and are being used to describe pan as being our national instrument, an instrument that gave birth to two legally constituted bodies, one of which has national and international oversight over its affairs? Was it sufficient for a former prime minister to make such a declaration without the full blessing of our Parliament?

The descriptive word “national” fosters an historical sense of ownership, pride, patriotism, community, respect and identity.

Is tacit knowledge sufficient to confer on pan the title of national musical instrument? Isn’t it long past the time for pan to be legally recognised as a national treasure? Pan, after all, preceded the national flag, the national anthem and the national coat of arms.

At the time of writing no amount of research has indicated that pan was ever proclaimed, via an act of Parliament, as being our national instrument.

Any attempt to bring pan’s predicament to the attention of our Parliament can only be of benefit to the national community in the quest to ensure that pan is legally elevated to the status of being our national musical instrument.

HENRY HARPER

via e-mail

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