Internacionales

Ring de Bell for another icon

Ca­lyp­so and rap­so have lost an icon with the sud­den death of Lu­ta­lo “Broth­er Re­sis­tance” Masim­ba, artiste and ac­tivist, ear­ly yes­ter­day.

He was serv­ing as pres­i­dent of the Trin­ba­go Uni­fied Ca­lyp­so­ni­ans’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (TU­CO) at the time of his pass­ing, nav­i­gat­ing the dif­fi­cult straits the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has brought up­on the en­ter­tain­ment and arts sec­tor.

His ac­tivism on be­half of two in­dige­nous mu­si­cal gen­res pre­dat­ed his time at the helm of TU­CO and through­out his life he was in­spired by the oral tra­di­tions that birthed both art forms.

But while he was known first and fore­most as an ex­po­nent of the rap­so tra­di­tion, Broth­er Re­sis­tance was al­ways at pains to point out that he didn’t in­vent the art form.

As a 16-year-old po­et­ry-liv­ing stu­dent at Queen’s Roy­al Col­lege, he was in­spired by the mu­sic of rap­so’s ac­tu­al cre­ator, the late Lancelot Layne. This was in 1970, a time of rev­o­lu­tion in T&T, with events that led many to a deep­er ap­pre­ci­a­tion of their African iden­ti­ty. It was al­so the year when the first-ever rap­so, Layne’s “Blow Way,” was re­leased.

So be­gan what be­came a life­long mu­si­cal and cul­tur­al pur­suit for Broth­er Re­sis­tance. As the 1970s end­ed, he was emerg­ing as an ex­cit­ing new tal­ent at the helm of the Net­work Rid­dim Band.

In­flu­enced by the Black Pow­er Move­ment, the mu­sic he wrote and per­formed con­tained mes­sages about so­cial jus­tice, hu­man rights and the en­vi­ron­ment. He sel­dom strayed from those themes and was nev­er lured in­to the “wine and jam” which brought easy but fleet­ing suc­cess to some of his fel­low artistes, giv­ing us hits like Ring De Bell, Tonight is De Night and Moth­er Earth

Ca­lyp­so and rap­so have lost an icon with the sud­den death of Lu­ta­lo “Broth­er Re­sis­tance” Masim­ba, artiste and ac­tivist, ear­ly yes­ter­day.

He was serv­ing as pres­i­dent of the Trin­ba­go Uni­fied Ca­lyp­so­ni­ans’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (TU­CO) at the time of his pass­ing, nav­i­gat­ing the dif­fi­cult straits the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has brought up­on the en­ter­tain­ment and arts sec­tor.

His ac­tivism on be­half of two in­dige­nous mu­si­cal gen­res pre­dat­ed his time at the helm of TU­CO and through­out his life he was in­spired by the oral tra­di­tions that birthed both art forms.

But while he was known first and fore­most as an ex­po­nent of the rap­so tra­di­tion, Broth­er Re­sis­tance was al­ways at pains to point out that he didn’t in­vent the art form.

As a 16-year-old po­et­ry-liv­ing stu­dent at Queen’s Roy­al Col­lege, he was in­spired by the mu­sic of rap­so’s ac­tu­al cre­ator, the late Lancelot Layne. This was in 1970, a time of rev­o­lu­tion in T&T, with events that led many to a deep­er ap­pre­ci­a­tion of their African iden­ti­ty. It was al­so the year when the first-ever rap­so, Layne’s “Blow Way,” was re­leased.

So be­gan what be­came a life­long mu­si­cal and cul­tur­al pur­suit for Broth­er Re­sis­tance. As the 1970s end­ed, he was emerg­ing as an ex­cit­ing new tal­ent at the helm of the Net­work Rid­dim Band.

In­flu­enced by the Black Pow­er Move­ment, the mu­sic he wrote and per­formed con­tained mes­sages about so­cial jus­tice, hu­man rights and the en­vi­ron­ment. He sel­dom strayed from those themes and was nev­er lured in­to the “wine and jam” which brought easy but fleet­ing suc­cess to some of his fel­low artistes, giv­ing us hits like Ring De Bell, Tonight is De Night and Moth­er Earth.

He de­fined rap­so as “the pow­er of the word, in the rid­dum of the word” and as its best-known ex­po­nent, pro­mot­ed it well be­yond T&T’s bor­ders, per­form­ing and con­duct­ing lec­tures and demon­stra­tions across the Caribbean, North Amer­i­ca and Eu­rope.

His decades of work as an ac­tivist, re­searcher and ed­u­ca­tor carved a niche for many artistes who have gone on to rap­so suc­cess, among them the wide­ly ac­claimed 3 Canal, Kin­dred and Atak­lan.

But he al­so worked to push the mu­sic in­to main­stream per­for­mance spaces, such as the sea­son­al ca­lyp­so tents and mu­sic fes­ti­vals, well be­yond the fringe events to which rap­so had been lim­it­ed in its ear­ly years.

His ef­forts, how­ev­er, were not sole­ly about pro­mot­ing and de­vel­op­ing the genre. Broth­er Re­sis­tance al­so worked for the cause of cul­ture at the Na­tion­al Car­ni­val Com­mis­sion (NCC), Copy­right Mu­sic Or­gan­i­sa­tion of T&T (COTT), As­so­ci­a­tion of Caribbean Copy­right So­ci­eties and oth­er groups. He was al­so very close to the steel­pan move­ment.

In 1992, he was ho­n­oured for his decades of cul­tur­al ac­tivism with the Hum­ming Bird Sil­ver Medal—an ac­co­lade he ac­cept­ed with his char­ac­ter­is­tic hu­mil­i­ty.

To the end, Broth­er Re­sis­tance was known for his sim­plic­i­ty and au­then­tic­i­ty. His Afro­cen­tric style of dress, the po­et­ry that was his life­long pas­sion, a dis­arm­ing style and easy man­ner were his trade­marks.

He nev­er strayed far from his Laven­tille home­town, even as his mu­si­cal in­flu­ence earned him le­gions of fans from all walks of life.

But his pass­ing, in a year where this na­tion has al­ready lost oth­er cul­tur­al icons — Singing San­dra, Tor­rance Mo­hammed, Wins­ford “Jok­er” Devine and Bob­by Mo­hammed among them—plunges the cul­tur­al fra­ter­ni­ty deep­er in­to mourn­ing.