THE EDITOR: The Artists’ Coalition of TT (ACTT) believes that Diego Martin could be considered the home of calypso, because historical records show that during the late 1700s there were pioneering calypsonians who originated from the Begorrat slave plantation at Covigne Hill, such as Gros Jean, So-So, Papa Couchon, Possum and Hannibal the Mulatto.
The emergence of this art form by these chantuelles was facilitated and supported by St Hilarie Begorrat, the plantation owner, a consistent aficionado of the culture (reference: The Man from Diego Martin. Smuggler, politician and a lover of early calypso – the life story of a typical Diego Martin planter of the 18th century” by Gerard Besson).
Centuries later, Diego Martin continued to be a breeding ground and geographical location for the art form and its calypsonians. A number of calypso’s most illustrious kings took up residence in the valley including Sparrow, Kitchener, Chalkdust and David Rudder. Sparrow and Kitch even constructed palaces there. Many other calypso legends have also called Diego Martin home, like Winsford Devine, Lord Superior, Brigo, Marcia Miranda, Denyse Plummer and Funny.
These facts have inspired ACTT to crown this phenomenon via a drafted proposal that was supported by the heads of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation and the village of Covigne, in 2017. Its objectives were and still are: the activation of a heritage hub project and the branding of Diego Martin as the home of calypso – on the planet.
Part of the heritage hub project includes designating the Begorrat Cave (where St Hilarie Begorrat himself was entertained privately by his favourite calypsonians), Sparrow’s Hideaway and Kitchener’s Rain-O-Rama as national heritage sites to attract both domestic and overseas visitors, as well as other forms of tourism.
If this project ever gets implemented it will be creating the fertile ground to facilitate the establishment of record shops, a record plant and internet radio stations. Furthermore, the type of business landscape could contribute toward generating and circulating millions of dollars within Diego Martin as the home of calypso.