Ali Rolston, Abdul Hamid, Michael Legerton & Paula Atherly
Paying Respect to Lewicito 'Cito' Velasquez
Tributes at Funeral Service
April 12, 2006
I have known Cito Velasquez since I was six years old. He lived next door to some family at Jenninham Avenue in Belmont. We attended Nelson Street R. C. School around the same time. I lost contact with him, but later on then we became friendly again because he was a popular guy. His sister, whom we used to call 'Neh Neh', was a sculptor. She made statues and so on for the churches. His brother Hue was a good sign painter. Cito took up wire-bending and he became quite famous. Everybody speaks about the bands that Cito brought for Carnival. He made costumes for Carnival like the 'Fish'and 'Cock a Doodle Doo'. He gave me one of the costumes to keep in my yard known as 'King Corbeau'. He made 'King Corbeau' for Tedder Eustace. At the end of Carnival, they didn't have any where to put 'King Corbeau', so it graced the grounds on which I live. 'King Corbeau' flew in my yard for years until he disappeared. I planted some bodie peas on 'King Corbeau'. When I came from England, Cito's band was the first band I encouraged my wife to play Mas with. Cito and I always got involved with Carnival and we always spoke about it. Every Sunday I used to come and meet him and we would go down to the Port of Spain market and lime with the butchers. Many people learned wire-bending and how to make things at Cito's place. Every Mas Camp in Trinidad has Cito's mark. He left his mark all over the place. He was a nice gentleman. He was my friend.
I was born across the street from Cito Velasquez. I am only giving testimony to the minor details about what I knew of him. I actually grew up under his hands. We joined many steelbands like La Blanca and so on. He loaned me a Sailor Suit to play Sailor Mas at one time but I was about five feet four inches and he was about three feet six inches (laughter). I played in one of the shortest Sailor Suits belonging to Cito Velasquez.
Cito has always been a good friend of ours. We will miss him tremendously. I appreciate the time I have known him and the times I have spent with him. I pray that Allah will forgive him of all his sins and transgressions, and he will enter Paradise on the day of Judgment. Praise be to Allah.
Michael 'Protector' Legerton
Cito was an Icon. He was one of the great people as far as Trinidad and Tobago is concerned. Again, we have lost another great one. It is time that we really start embracing. It has to become an 'All Embracing Fraternity'. In other words, we shouldn't divide Calypso, Pan and Mas. We have to come together as the cultural exponents in this country and start taking care of our people. Let us preserve them because we are losing them fast.
Today marks a really sad day in the history of our Traditional Carnival Characters. This passing brings to an end, a true Legend; one which has taken an aspect of our culture and blended that, with so much of our own traditions. Although it is sad to see him go, I think that we, the ones who are left behind, need to continue the work. We need to continue the dream and ensure that our culture lives on in our children and that it also lives on in the work that Cito has done and in his life.
We at Regional Carnival and at the National Carnival Commission are working very hard. We are putting some form of funding in a special place that would aid people such as Cito, Traditional Carnival Characters and so on. To aid those who have given to our art form in all aspects so that when they fall on hard times, or if they need financial assistance in terms of medical care which is one of the harder things to come by when one has reached this age. Really good care takes a lot of money. I think as a government and as an institution it is extremely imperative that we do what is necessary to take care of our own. To take care of those people who have given their lives to the culture and art form of this country.
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