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Quintyn ‘Toiler’ Toby’s question relevant once more

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Fri, Dec 14, 2012

The news of the passing of local cultural and calypso veteran, Quintyn “Toiler” Toby has been met with sadness by several sectors of the Vincentian public. A small population like ours, cannot be but negatively affected, by the loss of such talent. Given the pressures that local cultural expression, and calypso in particular, are under, the death of titans like Toiler, in an era when there is increasingly less respect for this original art form, must represent a further dent in the national cultural consciousness.{{more}}

The arts have had more than their fair share of blows in recent years. Mas camps, kaiso tents and pan yards can all point to relatively recent losses. Even the entertainment industry has not been immune, for prominent local impressario, “Stilly” Fraser has not too long departed the scene. Those who can appreciate the humour of it all, claim that “Stilly”, proprietor of the Aquatic Club among other recreational promotions, must have summoned “Toiler” in time for a “Nine-Mornings” opening!

To last four decades or more in the entertainment business is no easy feat. When you are a calypsonian, an endeavour not adequately recognized for its value, it is even worse, prompting one calypsonian, much younger than Toiler, to remark that “de calypso business ain’t easy”. It is in that context that one must appreciate the contribution of Toiler to the development of the local art form and the cultural and entertainment sub-sectors in particular. We join with the rest of the nation in paying tribute to his outstanding contribution.

Having said this, it is opportune to recall Toiler’s prize-winning composition of 1974. Then, in the aftermath of a police

manhunt for Junior “Spirit” Cottle and some colleagues, a prominent police inspector, now deceased, is alleged to have shot a police dog, borrowed from Trinidad to assist in the manhunt. Toiler’s “Who shoot de puppy?” has been indelibly inscribed in local folklore.

It has been treated as somewhat of a local joke since then. In recent times however, we have had cause to reflect on Toiler’s rhetorical question. This time, it is not a canine situation, but a human one, and certainly not a joke, but a real-life misfortune. The recent guarded report of the shooting of a police officer by another, while on night-time duty at Rose Place, gives cause for concern.

A couple weeks ago, another police officer was found guilty of charges of manslaughter, in a case where his firearm discharged, killing his colleague. What is really going on here?

The police are supposed to protect us, to be our guarantors

of public safety. If in carrying out their operations, their own officers are being shot in friendly fire, how safe and secure can we feel?

The late Toiler raised the concerns almost 40 years ago. We should not now be repeating the question, in reference to our own police officers.

May Toiler rest in peace.

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