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BIOGRAPHIES P-R

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  • Basdeo Panday
  • Lakshmi Persaud
  • Kamla Persad-Bissessar
  • Kenneth Ramchand
  • George Armsby Richards
  • George Maxwell Richards
  • Adrian Cola Rienzi
  • A.N.R. Robinson
  • Edwin Roberts

BASDEO PANDAY
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LAKSHMI PERSAUD
Born in Trinidad in 1939, Persaud worked for several years as a teacher in the Caribbean before leaving to pursue a Doctorate in Geography at the Queen’s University, Belfast.  Since the 1970s, Persaud has lived mainly in the United Kingdom and she has written numerous articles on socio-economic concerns for newspapers and magazines over the years. In the late 1980s she began writing fiction, and her short story “See Saw Margery Daw” was broadcast by the BBC World Service.

Persaud's first novel, Butterfly in the Wind, was published by Peepal Tree in 1990 to enthusiastic reviews in the UKSunday Observer and The Sunday Times. Persaud has written six novels to date, and her work is used in Caribbean and post-colonial literature courses in a number of universities. In recognition of her work, Warwick University in England established a Lakshmi Persaud Research Fellowship at its Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural studies. She was also recognized and awarded by the Indo-Caribbean Council, New York (ICC-NY) for the exploration in her writing of the Indo-Caribbean search for identity from a female perspective. In 2012, Persaud was honoured with a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award.

KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR
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KENNETH RAMCHAND
Ramchand is Professor Emeritus of West Indian Literature at the University of the West Indies, Professor Emeritus of English at Colgate University, and a former President of The University of Trinidad and Tobago. He has also been a Senior Fulbright Scholar affiliated to Yale University and the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma; a Visiting Professor at Indiana University, and a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation.

Ramchand is one of the Caribbean’s most prominent literary critics. He has written extensively on a many West Indian authors, including V.S. Naipaul, Earl Lovelace and Sam Selvon, and he has edited several significant cultural publications. Ramchand’s seminal text, The West Indian Novel and Its Background (1970), influenced the creation and internationalization of West Indian Literature as an academic discipline and his work transformed UWI’s syllabus in English.

In 1996, Ramchand was awarded a Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Gold for his work in Literature, Education, and Culture. In 2012, Ramchand was honoured with a NALIS Lifetime Literary Achievement Award.

SENATOR GEORGE ARMSBY RICHARDS
Senator Richards served as the first post-independence Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago for seven years, from 1962 to 1967. Born in the neighboring Caribbean Island of St Vincent, he first attended the Belmont Boys R.C. Primary School then went on to study abroad at the Tutorial College, London. He studied Law at the University of London, and was subsequently called to the Bar in 1940. After studying in London, Mr. Richards returned to Trinidad and Tobago and became a member of the San Fernando Borough Council. He was one of the Foundation members of the West Indian National Party in 1942. He is also the father of Trinidad and Tobago’s current President, Mr. George Maxwell Richards.


Source:

GEORGE MAXWELL RICHARDS
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ADRIAN COLA RIENZI
Labour leader, barrister, trade unionist and politician. His real name was Krishna Deonarine, but he changed it to Adrian Cola Rienzi, “Cola Rienzi” being the name of a 14th century Italian patriot who struggled for the rights of the peasants. Adrian Cola Rienzi joined forces with Cipriani at the outset of Cipriani’s career but broke with him and formed the Trinidad Citizens League in 1936. He was considered to be representing the Indian sugar workers, although he appeared to be just as interested in the fate of the other major ethnic group, the Africans.

When the oilfield workers rioted in 1937, Rienzi, who had a most cordial relationship with the leader of the oilfield workers, Uriah Butler (and was the legal representative of Butler’s party), showed great solidarity with Butler who went into hiding. While Butler was in hiding, Rienzi mediated between him and the government, trying to obtain a safe conduct for him which was not conceded. On July 25, 1937, in order to keep high morale and solidarity among the oil workers in the absence of Butler, he formed the Oilfield Workers Trade Union. The workers made him their President-General. During that period, he also helped to form the All-Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers Trade Union and served as the President of this union.

After Butler gave himself up in September 1937 and was arrested and tried, Rienzi, as his counsel, brilliantly defended him in the court and received high commendation from the trial judge. Butler was jailed for two years and during this period and Butler’s subsequent detention on war security grounds, Rienzi made spectacular efforts to keep the Butler followers united and Butler’s image alive. Indeed, it is due largely to Rienzi that when Butler was released in 1945 he was received warmly and with great acclaim.

Earlier, in January 1938, under the banner of the trade union movement, Rienzi fought and won the seat for San Fernando at the Legislative Council elections that year. Speaking in the Legislative Council on June 16, 1939, he called for the observance of June 19, the anniversary of the Oilfield Riots, as a public holiday. He was ridiculed then, and he heard Captain Cipriani declare: “All those who have the best interests of the working classes at heart, would like to forget forever June 19, and are not asking for the making of a day for the adulation of false heroes.” (However, in 1973 the Government declared the anniversary, June 19th, as Labour Day to commemorate the oilfield riots of 1937).

Rienzi became mayor of San Fernando in November 1939 and administered the borough for three consecutive terms, until November 1942. He was a member of the franchise committee which was appointed in 1941, and strongly advocated universal adult suffrage. He was made a member of the Executive Council in 1941, but he did not have a long stay in the House. He retired from active politics in 1944 at the relatively young age of 39. So far as his legal career was concerned, he was made a Second Crown Council in 1944, First Crown Counsel in 1949, and Senior Crown Counsel in 1952. He was Assistant Attorney-General from 1953 to 1958, Acting Solicitor-General in 1959, and Acting Director of Public Prosecutions from 1959 to 1961. His last post was that of Assistant Solicitor-General in 1964. He died on July 21, 1972.


Source:

  • Anthony, Michael. Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago. London: The Scarecrow Press, 1977. 480 - 481.

ARTHUR NAPOLEON RAYMOND ROBINSON (1926-2014)
Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson was born in Calder Hall, Tobago, on December 16th, 1926. He attended the Castara Methodist School where his father was the Head Master. From there he was the first Bowles Scholar to Bishop’s High School, Tobago, in 1939, and later the first House scholarship winner from Bishop’s High School in 1942. Mr Robinson was married to the former Patricia Rawlins. They have two children David and Ann-Margaret.

He attended the University of London, where he earned a Bachelor of Laws degree as an external student. Mr Robinson was called to the Bar of Inner Temple England in 1951 and subsequently obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from St John’s College Oxford in 1959.

On his return to Trinidad and Tobago, he had the desire to change the social and economic conditions of his people and a desire to redress the negative effects of an outdated colonial status as a form of government. He recognized an urgent necessity for creating a strong political force, supported by the collective will of the people.

Mr Robinson has had a long and distinctive political career. He was a founding member of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) and the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR). He represented Trinidad and Tobago in the Federal Parliament from 1958 to 1960. He was the first Minister of Finance of newly independent Trinidad and Tobago in 1961 and also served as Minister of External Affairs and acted as Attorney General. Mr Robinson was Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly from 1980 to 1986.

After the NAR won the 1986 General Elections, Mr Robinson assumed office as Prime Minister, a position he held until 1991. During his tenure, the Parliament was attacked by an armed group, and he and other members of Parliament were held hostage. Mr Robinson has represented the constituency of Tobago East in the House of Representatives since 1961 and was appointed Minister Extraordinaire and Adviser as part of UNC/NAR coalition government from November 1995 until his election as President.

Mr. Robinson’s political experience also extends to international matters. He has been involved in the establishment of the International Criminal Court since 1972 serving as consultant and Executive Director of the Foundation. He has been the recipient of a number of other Honours and Awards. Mr Robinson was a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Crime and Abuse Power in 1979.

He has written numerous articles and presented many speeches including ‘Mechanics of Independence’. A selection of his articles and speeches for the period 1960 to 1986 has been published under the title Caribbean Man (1986). He wrote the following books: The New Frontier and the New African (1961), Fiscal Reform in Trinidad and Tobago(1966), The Path to Progress (1967), and The Teacher and Nationalism (1967).

Mr Robinson was also bestowed the following honours: Distinguished International Criminal Law Award, International Criminal Court Foundation 1977, Distinguished Merit Award for International Diplomatic Achievement 1986.

For additional Information see: The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament Website.


OTHER PRESIDENTS:

EDWIN ROBERTS (Athletics)
Edwin Roberts first made an impression on the athletic world at Guaracara Park in 1961 when he defeated Milka Singh, who had placed fourth in the Olympic Games in Rome the previous year.

His international debut was made at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, Jamaica in 1962 when he won silver medals in the 200 metres and in the 4x100 metres relay, and a bronze in the 4x400.

Later in the year, he represented the country at the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, but was eliminated in the second round of both the 100 and 200 metre events.

He later accepted an athletic scholarship at the North Carolina College and was a regular on national teams from 1964 to 1972, winning gold in the 200 metres, and three silver medals in the 100 metres and both relays at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico in 1966.

In the same year, he won a bronze in 100 yards, silver in the 220 yards and shared in a world record of three minutes 2.8 seconds in the 4x440 yards relay in Kingston, Jamaica.

Four years later, Roberts won two silver medals in the 200 metres and 4x400 relay at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland. In his lone representation at the Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia, in 1971, Roberts won bronze in the 200 metres as well as the 4x400 metres relay.

Edwin Roberts goes down in history as the individual who won this country's first Olympic medal in athletics when he won bronze in the 200 metres at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He also shared in a bronze in the 4x400-metre relay.

In 1968, he again represented T&T at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico, placing fourth in the 200 metres. He became the second Trinidadian to compete in three successive Olympic Games then bowed out of competition after the 1972 Olympic Games.

See more information on Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic medalists