Photo : Ravi Ratiram (Chairman Building T&T)

The recent comments by San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello bashing the fact that the South Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) should never have been named after Trinidad and Tobago’s Cultural Icon, Sundar Popo, must be vociferously condemned.

At best the Mayor’s statement demonstrates a callous insensitivity in a country rich in its cultural diversity, and at worst it is a reprehensible comment which propagates racial discord that has absolutely no place in our society.

It demonstrates Regrello’s scant regards for our plural society and his one-dimensional attitude which is at the core of the divisiveness that we as a people have been trying to extinguish from this glorious country.

It is an insult not only to persons of East Indian heritage, it is an insult to the people of South Trinidad, and it is an insult to every citizen of this country who appreciate the rich cultural legacy and heritage that is made stronger for its diversity.

Sudarlal Popo Bahora is not just any performer; he is credited as being the father of the world famous chutney art form. He was the first to fuse the rhythms of soca with the traditional Indian art form, giving birth to an entire industry that has paved the way for such mega stars as Ravi B, Raymond Ramnarine, Rikki Jai,  Anand Yankarran, Drupatee, KI, Nishard and Neeval just to name a few. 

It is ironic that in 1995 it was Black Stalin himself (who Regrello would prefer SAPA be named after) that won the Calypso Monarch Title with his hit ‘A Tribute to Sundar Popo’. We daresay, Stalin himself must be most offended to have heard the callous statements by Mayor Regrello. 

Sundar Popo has copped numerous awards including a National Award for Excellence as well as the National Hummingbird medal in 1993. He is a hero to all persons, of all races and of all places, and it is insulting, reckless, myopic, inconsiderate, inappropriate and racially divisive that Junia Regrello should seek to so belittle the legacy of so great a servant of the people.

We demand that the Mayor issue an apology to all and sundry and we demand swift action by his Political Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, to address this tragic development.


Ravi Ratiram

Chairman Building T&T