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Kaiso! Kaiso!

The Mighty Duke's Send-Off

Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope
Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope Reporters
Event Date: January 22, 2009
Posted: January 25, 2009

Departed Calypso icon the Mighty Duke (Kelvin Pope) got a true Kaiso send off in his home town of Point Fortin on Thursday 22nd January, 2009, at Coronation Park. Duke's family, including his wife Rebecca and his children Wendell, Makeda, Kurt and Ossasie, friends as well as many members of the Calypso fraternity, were on hand to celebrate the life and times of the Mighty Duke.

Attendants at Mighty Duke's send-off
Attendants at Mighty Duke's send-off

They came to remember and celebrate the Calypsonian with over 50 years of experience in the Calypso arena, who had won the National Calypso Monarch four times and who had given the nation such gems as "Thunder", "How Many More Must Die", "Mih Lover" (written by Duke and performed by Lord Nelson), "Black Skin, White Man", "What is Calypso", "Black is Beautiful" and "Teach the Children".

Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), deliveres the eulogy
Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), deliveres the eulogy
Close friend, Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), delivered a stirring eulogy that he started in true Kaiso style by singing part of Duke's song "What is Calypso":

I am sure you don't know what Calypso is.
The words that we rhyme and sing is only half the thing.
I could tell you that, Calypso is more than a work of art;
it is a feeling which comes from deep within.
A tale of joy or one of suffering;
an editorial of the life we living.
Only that I know, is true Calypso.

Chalkdust outlined Duke's early experiences in Kaisodom and the early Calypsonians such as Cypher and Syncopator who influenced him. According to Chalkdust, there was no Calypsonian who sang more songs about Africa than Duke as he sought to bring the African Diaspora closer together, to make Africans see themselves beyond gates of the Slave Trade and to build a bridge towards victory over colonialism, Apartheid and Eurocentrism.

Edwin Ayong (Crazy) sings a tribute to the Duke
Edwin Ayong (Crazy) sings a tribute to the Duke

Following Chalkdust's contribution, other tributes flowed, mainly in the form of Calypsos, both those composed by him and those sung in his honour. Veteran Calypsonian Relator (Willard Harris) performed Duke's "What is Calypso", Luta sang "Freaking Streaking", Singing Sandra sang "One Foot Visina", Crazy sang "Work It Up For Me", Bally sang the anti-Apartheid Classic "How Many More Must Die", Gabby sang "The World Today" while Gypsy sang "Black is Beautiful".

Austin Lyons (Superblue) gives a pore-raising performance
Austin Lyons (Superblue) gives a pore-raising performance

These performances of Duke's songs were appreciated by those gathered who cheered and applauded loudly. Mavis John gave a moving rendition of Kitchener's classic, apparently one of Duke's last wishes, "The Carnival is Over". However, it was Superblue who paid tribute to the Mighty Duke in a manner that only Superblue can. To a rhythmic booming bassline, Superblue gave a pore-raising and typically charged performance that resonated with the audience.

Brother Resistance and Hasely Crawford at Duke's Send-Off
Brother Resistance and Hasely Crawford at Duke's Send-Off

On hand for this send-off were Culture Minister Marlene McDonald, Sporting icon Hasely Crawford, COTT CEO Allison Demas, Rapso pioneers Brother Resistance and Karega Mandela, Brigo, Funny, Pink Panther, De Fosto, King Austin, Power, Striker, Short Pants, Explainer, Singing Francine, Composer, Trinidad Rio, King Wellington, Brother Mudada, Black Prince and many other members of the Calypso fraternity and the general public. Speaking with TrinidadandTobagoNews, several of them hailed the contributions of the Mighty Duke and highlighted the importance of recognising cultural icons when they are alive and not just when they pass away.

Procession into the Point Fortin Cemetery
Procession into the Point Fortin Cemetery

After the formal ceremony, Flagman Peter Diaz led the procession to the nearby Point Fortin Cemetery. With Pan playing, people in the procession sang various songs as they walked through the streets of Point Fortin to Duke's final resting place. At the cemetery, Duke's family and the general public took a last emotional look at the body of the Mighty Duke.

Duke's coffin being lowered into the grave
Duke's coffin being lowered into the grave

Onlookers broke into song as the coffin was lowered into the grave and the gravediggers filled the hole. The Mighty Duke (Kelvin Pope) will be remembered as the husband of Rebecca Pope, father of Wendell, Makeda, Kurt and Ossasie, grandfather of Faith, Joseph, Heaven, and Alabaster, son of the late Ernest and Hilda Pope, brother of Molly, Rudolph, Kathleen and others, and uncle of Dana, Kenrick, Marlon, Wayne, Valdine and others.

Family and friends pay respect to Duke
Family and friends pay respect to Duke

He was the recipient of the National Award Humming Bird Medal in 1970 and many other awards and accolades throughout his career.

Chalkdust's Eulogy for the Mighty Duke

Kelvin 'Mighty Duke' Pope Passes Away