PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Hundreds of people yesterday descended on the National Academy for the Performing Arts to bid farewell to the country’s third president and prime minister, ANR Robinson, who died on April 9.
In his tribute to his predecessor, former president of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor George Maxwell Richards spoke of Robinson as testing the office of the presidency.
“Arthur N R Robinson tested the boundaries of the office of president and left a mark that provokes fervent discussion as our country continues to search for a more appropriate construct of leadership. I am certain that you would agree that whatever replaces our present supreme law, must ensure that the quality referred to in the words of our National Anthem, and of our Constitution, is not marred in platitudes,” said Richards.
“As a people, we must seek to preserve the legacy of this fallen patriot, not merely to name building or other monuments in his honour but . . . Trinidad and Tobago must establish programmes and formulate policies which are geared toward a complete fulfilment of President Robinson’s dreams,” said Sitting President Anthony Carmona.
In her tribute, Prime Minister Kamla Bissessar acknowledged Robinson as a great citizen and Caribbean man.
“Even in death the life of Mr Robinson’s will evoke a lot of discussion at ports of entry. Some focused on his achievements, his bravery, his loyalty to democracy, and the mark he left on Trinidad and Tobago and indeed the world.
“But what has emerged out of all the discussion is really an evolving definition of who we are as a people, the ways we have grown and the things that tell the world what it means to be Trinidadian and Tobagonian.”
She added that the life and legacy of Robinson proved that despite a person’s background, he or she can achieve greatness through focus and dedication.
“He was not one to allow his environment to dictate his lot in life.”
Other tributes came from Andre Laperriere of the World Bank, Kenneth Gordon of the Integrity Commission, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Shridath Ramphal.
The three hour long memorial ceremony, organised to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the former the prime minister and pesident was preceded by a parade along Frederick Street, lined by flag bearing students.
The casket carrying the body of the late former president was transported on a gun carrier while members of his family walked behind it.
Robinson’s body was later flown to Tobago where a second funeral service will be held over the weekend and where he will be buried.