University hosts unique calypso-infused lecture to honor Caribbean leader

Carolina Perdomo/Contributing Writer

This year, the annual memorial lecture of Eric Williams, based on the calypso music style, is expected by its organizers to attract the public along with recognizable guests from the Caribbean to celebrate the 15th anniversary of this event.

Every year, a memorial is given to honor Williams’ life and contributions to Caribbean politics and history.

This year’s event will take place Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the School of International and Public Affairs in room 125.

Williams was the leader of the independence movement of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, People’s National Movement, and served as prime minister from 1956 until his death in 1981. Known as the “Father of the Nation,” Williams was known for his hard work and the legacy he left for the Caribbean nation.

In keeping with tradition, the Latin American and Caribbean Center will co-sponsor this year’s program.

According to LACC’s Associate Director Liesl Picard, the Center greatly appreciates the opportunity to support such a high-quality event.

“LACC and [African and African Diaspora Studies] have worked very closely over the years on a variety of programs designed to increase awareness regarding the Caribbean – and this is among the most successful,” said Picard.

“Through the generous support of the [Eric Williams Memorial Collection Research Library, Archives and Museum at the University of the West Indies], AADS is able to host this event at FIU every year, contributing to a more enhanced understanding of the region,” Picard said.

The LACC graduate student organization, Maloka FIU, is promoting the event through their networks as well.

‘‘I consider this event very particular and influential over the public because it is actually an academic lecture accompanied by live musical performance,’’ said Jean Muteba Rahier, professor of anthropology and director of AADS.

Shaneequa Castle, a graduate student in the AADS masters program, said she will be attending the event for the first time. One of the initial reasons this event sparked her interest was because of her passion for the Caribbean and its popular culture.

“I’ve also heard great reviews about past Eric Williams Memorial Lectures so I am excited to experience it for myself,” said Castle.

“I heard of this event prior to being admitted to FIU, just watching the videos online and seeing how fun it looked. Now I have the opportunity to actually attend the event, learn more and be part of it,” said Tonya St. Julien, another graduate student from the AADS master program.

“People should attend this event because there will be a lot of knowledge imparted on the culture, prominent leaders and learning the legacy of Eric Williams,” said St. Julien.

Calypso music has characterized the Caribbean culture because it has been the voice of the people by representing different social problems; putting them in lyrics and converting them to songs has become not only a form of expression, but a new style of music.

“When you look at the history of the prime ministry of Eric Williams, every important event was marked by at least one calypso song,” said Rahier.

According to Picard, this event directly supports LACC’s efforts to attract more people to the Center and serves to increase engagement across communities.

This lecture has been a major event in the intellectual life of South Florida, particularly in the West Indian and English speaking Caribbean communities, according to Rahier.

“This is a very positive event that only FIU has exclusively presented to the community. It brings to them their historical, political and cultural realities of the Caribbean,” said Rahier.

The event will include the performance of Rawle Ribbons, senior lecturer from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, and Lord Relator, a calypso performer.

“To coordinate this effort, we always begin a year in advance for reservations and putting together the ideas of a great performance to please the audience,” Rahier said.

The event is open to students and the public and admission is free; tickets can be found on Eventbrite.

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