AS San Fernando celebrated its 34th anniversary as a city with a religious service on Friday, Anglican priest Fr Edwin Primus impressed upon elected members of the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC), that their priority and focus should be on the people.
“It is not about party or self. It is about service to humanity. You are elected to serve the people. Not only those who voted for you, but all of the people of San Fernando.
“The city belongs to all of us and you must treat all as stewards of God.”
At the St Paul’s Anglican Church, Harris Promenade on the evening of November 18 – the day San Fernando was officially made a city in 1988, Primus reminded them, “God has favoured you to make San Fernando the kind of city he wants it to be.”
He said in the midst of the turmoil of crime, violence, unemployment, neglect and abuse, people were looking to the elected members for hope.
He sang the refrain from one of calypsonian Black Stalin’s classic songs, “We can make it if we try,” to illustrate the point of collective responsibility to nurture and build the city, “transforming it into a new San Fernando, into a place of love and goodwill.”
As the city goes through a transformation, Primus urged the decision makers not to forget their past.
“Give thanks to those who laid the foundation, so we can celebrate 34 years as a city at this time.”
Councillors offered prayers for the nation, for the economy to prosper, for the leaders not to be distracted or divided by partisan politics, but be committed to co-operatively seeking the common good, and for favour on the city and protection of citizens.
Culture impresario Dawad Phillip presented to San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello, the manuscript of a book Regrello commissioned him to write on the history of San Fernando carnival.
Phillip said he very proudly and unexpectedly discovered during his research, the important role St Paul’s Anglican played in the development and transformation of carnival, not only in San Fernando, but in Trinidad and Tobago.
The manuscript, which was blessed by Primus, will be launched for Carnival 2023.
Pointing out it was the first time in three years they were able to host a physical celebration to commemorate city day, Regrello told the congregation, in spite of the pandemic they have done a lot with limited resources, which is cause for celebration.
“We celebrate the brand new Skinner Park which is to be opened in a few weeks, we celebrate the transformation of the waterfront, we celebrate the commissioning of Dawad Phiillip to write a book about the history of carnival, and the commissioning of Prof Brinsley Samaroo to write the history of San Fernando from 1950 to present.
After the church service, celebrations shifted to the city hall auditorium where long and distinguished service awards were presented to SFCC workers – CEO Indarjit Singh, Michael Elliot, Jacinta Baksh, Gerard Ramarack and Imtiaz Hosein.
St Benedict’s College, La Romaine, which lifted the coveted Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) title in October, was also the recipient in the sphere of education. Proud principal Haymatee Jaleel collected on the school’s behalf.
It was a sort of St Benedict’s reunion as two of its past students, one of TT’s most prolific calypso writers Gregory “GB” Ballantyne received an award for culture, while legendary football coach Jan Steadman also received an award for sports.
Old Tech Steel Orchestra’s Sean Ramsey, who has dedicated his life to working with youths, also received an award for culture.
Advocate for human rights and the elimination of violence against women Ursula de Castro received an award for community service.
Dalvi Paladee, known for his philanthropic service, and who grew Pennywise from a stall in the Chaguanas Market to one of the largest retail operations in the Caribbean, was awarded in the sphere of business.
Paladee, who lost his only sister to crime and whose businessplace in La Romaine was the scene of a robbery which claimed the lives of two security guards, injury to others and death of four suspects, responded on behalf of the honorees.
He told the audience their focus should be on giving unconditional love to TT.
“The most important thing after God and your parents, is your motherland. Today we see it literally bleeding.”
He posed a question to the audience. “If your mother is bleeding, would you go about your business?
“No. We need to spend time and give her that extra love.”