SIX months after his death, a promise to name a street in San Fernando after the "king of dance" Torrance Mohammed has been fulfilled.
The entrance leading to the Naparima Bowl – one of the homes of culture in San Fernando and a place where Mohammed spent his 70 of his 90 years on the stage – was named Torrance Mohammed Street on Friday.
The unveiling was done by two moko jumbies from the Kaisoca Moko Jumbies led by Junior Bisnath, and witnessed by city mayor Junia Regrello and members of the city corporation (SFCC); former culture minister Joan Yuille-Williams; co-founder of the Torrance Mohammed Culture and Arts Foundation Derron Attz; and calypsonian Joanne Foster .
At the unveiling, Attz recalled the idea for the street naming was birthed in March when he, actors Rhoma and Penelope Spencer, and Godfrey Martin of the United Kingdom, felt this southern cultural icon deserved more recognition in the city in which he lived and also served as a councillor.
“We felt that this particular street, connecting to the Naparima Bowl, where he produced and rehearsed most of his plays in the early days, was a fitting tribute.”
The SFCC approved the change before Mohammed was attacked and killed in May, and he was elated by the gesture, Attz recalled.
He said the unveiling was planned for around October 4, when Mohammed would have celebrated his 91st birthday, but it was deferred to the 33rd anniversary of City Week.
“We are happy this has taken place, for history to recognise his contribution, not just in San Fernando, but by extension, the creative community and Trinidad and Tobago as a whole."
Yuille-Williams, who was a member of Mohammed’s drama group, spoke of their long relationship.
“Anything cultural in San Fernando, the name Torrance Mohammed was always recorded. The life that he lived and work he did is something that our young people need to know and follow.
“This is a historic day and I am happy to be part of the history. I know wherever Torrance is, he would appreciate what we are doing here today.”
Regrello endorsed the historical significance of the event. Last year when the city celebrated its 32nd anniversary, thecouncil declared 2020-2021 the Year of the Arts.
“During that year we developed our perspective on how we would really commend those who contributed. We looked around the city and saw most of the streets were named after former governors, mayors and other distinguished politicians.
Unlike other cities which are pulling down statues and street signs commemorating those who committed atrocities against other people, Regrello said the intention is not to change history but to recognise those who made meaningful contribution and shaped the landscape of TT.
“We are of the view that the city was shaped by other people as well, particularly people in the arts, and we should pay recognition to those who contributed.
“Torrance contributed over 70 years of his life to the arts and we must be appreciative and cognitive of his contribution.”
He said it was against this background the council decided to name streets that were without names after cultural icons such as Ken "Professor" Philmore, Bobby Mohamed, Steve Achibar, Leroy "Black Stalin" Calliste and Dr Rupert Indar, the latter of whom revolutionised health care in San Fernando.
”This is a proud moment for all of us as we name this space and this street, the Torrance Mohammed Street. Torrance would have left his home many times and would have turned into this street by remote control, because he has known it all his life.”
On Sunday, at the Naparima Bowl. the Torrance Mohammed Culture and Arts Foundation will host a benefit concert that he was working on before his death, Part proceeds from this concert will go towards a scholarship fund for deserving young artistes.