Traditional African funeral for Mighty Composer

The Mighty Com­pos­er (Fred Mitchell) was giv­en an in­ti­mate tra­di­tion­al African fu­ner­al at­tend­ed by close fam­i­ly, friends and a few for­mer politi­cians on Mon­day.

Dressed in African garbs and re­ferred to by his African name — Awise Olu Sino Amono Ifay­o­mi — the late ca­lyp­son­ian was re­mem­bered as a man of wis­dom who des­per­ate­ly want­ed to up­lift his Afro-Trinida­di­an broth­ers and sis­ters by get­ting them out of the so­cial con­di­tion­ing of slav­ery.

Dur­ing his eu­lo­gy, his adopt­ed daugh­ter Fay­ola Layne said Mitchell, whom she fond­ly called Ba­ba, pre­pared her for a life of a good char­ac­ter. Re­call­ing his last words, Layne said Mitchell was a piv­otal fig­ure in the Or­isha fam­i­ly and was a founder of the Or­isha Coun­cil of T&T.

"He al­ways said, 'We African peo­ple were born to win but we have been pro­grammed to lose. We must iden­ti­fy this pro­gram­ming and deal with it ac­cord­ing­ly,' " Layne re­called.

She said Mitchell was a fa­ther to many and nine years be­fore his death, he pi­o­neered a vig­il be­fore Eman­ci­pa­tion be­cause he firm­ly be­lieved that peo­ple were not sleep­ing the night be­fore slav­ery fi­nal­ly end­ed on Au­gust 1, 1838.

Layne al­so said Mitchell saw him­self as a work in progress and in the years be­fore his death he be­came a more hum­ble hu­man be­ing who al­ways wore white, lived a sim­ple life and en­cour­aged peo­ple to live a life with good char­ac­ter.

Layne said her Ba­ba adopt­ed her when she was sev­en-months-old and al­ways told her she was dif­fer­ent. She said Mitchell schooled her in African stud­ies say­ing the main­stream ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem lacked im­por­tant as­pects of T&T's his­to­ry.

"He told me wise peo­ple speak when they have some­thing to say and fool­ish peo­ple speak just to say some­thing. He taught me to al­ways ex­pect the un­ex­pect­ed," she re­called.

For­mer Cul­ture Min­is­ter Win­ston "Gyp­sy" Pe­ters al­so paid trib­ute to Mitchell say­ing he was the one who en­cour­aged him to en­ter the ca­lyp­so fra­ter­ni­ty.

"If I was an or­gan­i­sa­tion, I would say the Mighty Com­pos­er cre­at­ed me," Pe­ters said to loud ap­plause. He said he was still reel­ing from the death of Lord Su­pe­ri­or when he got news that an­oth­er of his men­tor Com­pos­er had died. Pe­ters said Mitchell al­ways called him 'Lit­tle Gyp­sy' not­ing that he taught him every­thing he knew about ca­lyp­so.

"He has done a lot for a lot of peo­ple. We are eu­lo­gis­ing a man who did so much for oth­ers. I am ex­treme­ly hap­py that I had the Com­pos­er in my life. I have no re­grets," Pe­ters said. He added that Mitchell up­lift­ed the African com­mu­ni­ty.

"You caused black peo­ple to look in­to them­selves and see that black peo­ple are peo­ple. I am proud of our­selves and the per­son who caused that to­day is Com­pos­er. We share the same ide­ol­o­gy, re­li­gious be­liefs, ca­lyp­so back­ground and I am very proud of you," Pe­ters said.

An­oth­er ca­lyp­son­ian James 'Du­ran­go' Samuel said he en­joyed hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with Mitchell in pa­tois.

Akinde Rud­der, an­oth­er friend said she record­ed con­ver­sa­tions with Mitchell be­fore his death. She added that Mitchell had an undy­ing love for his fam­i­ly but al­ways lament­ed the lack of re­spect shown to old­er ca­lyp­so­ni­ans. She said a foun­da­tion will be opened in Com­pos­er's name next year so that his lega­cy of up­lift­ing the African broth­er­hood will live on.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva