THE EDITOR: I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the awardees at this year's Republic Day national awards ceremony.
In this regard, I also wish to register my sincere concern at the failure, once again, to bestow the ORTT to our dearly departed and beloved Lord Kitchener. In my view, it is a major oversight in a year marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Kitch was undoubtedly a musical genius. Indeed, a prophet is without honour in his own country. Why is Kitch being denied the nation's highest award, even posthumously? His achievements are well known to the national community and I need not detail them here, although I had in a previous letter to the editor, some months ago, briefly addressed some of them.
Kitch was not a medical doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a banker, or someone with "Dr" before his name. However, his sterling contribution to this country far surpassed many who hold such academic accolades and have in the past received the ORTT. I wonder if at times the national awards committee is biased in favour of people who have attained high academic qualifications.
It could not be because Kitch died in 2000, admittedly a long time ago, since the late Adrian Cola Rienzi had been deceased for much longer when he was bestowed with a national award. It could not be because he refused the Chaconia Medal Gold sometime in the 1990s, because Makandal Daaga had also refused a national award and was later bestowed with the ORTT.
I note that the Mighty Sparrow has been awarded the ORTT. Maybe the fact that Sparrow holds an honorary doctorate from the UWI helped sway the awards committee to grant him the highest award. Who knows?
Sparrow is my favourite calypsonian. In his heyday he was a master entertainer. However, given that most, if not all, of his best calypsoes were composed by others, that gives Kitch the edge as a musical genius since he composed all of his calypsoes. But comparisons are odious. Nonetheless, they are both deserving of the ORTT.
Another glaring omission is the country's 2008 Olympic Games 4×100 metres men's relay team that was belatedly awarded gold medals following the disqualification of Jamaica.
If the national awards committee is consistent with past practice, then the athletes concerned should receive the ORTT. Our only other Olympic gold medallists, Hasely Crawford and Keshorn Walcott, have both received the nation's then highest national award.
I defer to the committee, but provided that it is not a breach of protocol, I recommendation that a special investiture ceremony be held to correct these glaring omissions. History will not be kind to us if they are allowed to persist.
LOUIS W WILLIAMS