ADDRESS Delivered by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs At the Launch of the Africa-Trinidad and Tobago Steel Pan Development Company On Tuesday 10th July 2012, Regency Rooms I and II, Hyatt Regency Trinidad Hotel.
Mr. Bade Fuye, Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Friends, 2012 is indeed a special year for our country.
In the coming weeks, Trinidad and Tobago will intensify its celebrations of a momentous occasion in our nation’s history. I am very honoured to be part of the celebrations of our 50th Anniversary of Independence and I eagerly look forward to all of the events not only those on August 31st, 2012 but those throughout the ensuing months. Trinidad and Tobago will mark another significant milestone on August 01, when we commemorate 20 years of Emancipation Day observances. Trinidad and Tobago was one of the first countries to commemorate Emancipation Day as a public holiday and has aggressively encouraged and assisted in promoting the observance in other countries.
It is also noteworthy that 2012 marks 50 years of diplomatic ties between Trinidad and Tobago and a number of countries including the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These countries made the first step in welcoming a new Trinidad and Tobago to the fold of the international community and international affairs shortly after our Independence in 1962. It is in this context therefore, that I am here with you this evening to celebrate the formation of the Africa- Trinidad and Tobago Steel Pan Development Company Limited (ATTSDC).
The unification of forces across the Atlantic Ocean between Pan Trinbago and the Xcel Steel Pan Development Company of Nigeria signifies the widening, expansion and strengthening of historical and cultural ties between Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria as well as the promotion of South- South Cooperation. Pan Trinbago must be commended for this initiative which represents the first foreign investment made by the Organisation and the opportunity for us to focus on emerging markets in Africa in general and Nigeria, in particular.
Our national instrument is well known throughout the world. It is present on all of the continents with aficionados in more than 20 countries. I understand that it is the intention of the newly formed company to forge a new dynamic on the African continent. I am happy to learn that the ATTSDC will be more than a centre for steel pan manufacturing and distribution. It will also be a driving force in the development of youth projects and initiatives to encourage African youths to learn about and establish a close relationship with this amazing instrument.
These school and youth projects will provide opportunities for collaborative efforts and exchanges between Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria through the optimization of people-to-people contacts and linkages which can be formed and developed in the areas of culture, tourism, education and trade. Trinidad and Tobago already possesses a strong Junior Panorama model and Pan in Schools Programme which can be adapted and emulated in Nigeria. Our young people are currently the linch-pin behind the various steel pan orchestras throughout the country. As a positive alternative for youths in high risk areas and a motivator for youths to formally study music, steel pan bands have experienced large youth memberships that have developed into youth arms which effectively function as incubators for young arrangers and producers.
The legacy which Pan Trinbago is seeking to achieve is one which will be a testament to the development of culture into a viable economic product. The monetization of culture is key to the diversification and sustainable development of the economy as Trinidad and Tobago seeks to promote its services and creative industries to its competitive advantage. Pan Trinbago’s thrust towards the international promotion of the national instrument is therefore a positive and welcome step in the direction of the development of our cultural industry. It was just last month that the Ministry of The Arts and Multiculturalism invited all artistes and musicians to register in the National Registry of Artists and Cultural Workers. One can only imagine the benefits which could redound to the steel pan industry through the synergy of Pan Trinbago, the National Registry of Artists and Cultural Workers and the ATTSDC. Pan Trinbago has created a viable avenue for tuners, arrangers, producers and teachers versed in the steel pan to have a multiplicity of options for employment outside of the Carnival period and outside of Trinidad and Tobago.
These employment opportunities will serve as gateways for the exportation of our rich and diverse culture. The art-forms of calypso, wire-bending and ‘mas’ can all benefit in similar fashion through this initiative. I therefore encourage the various bodies to collaborate with Pan Trinbago and the ATTSDC to ensure the success of this investment and “Brand Trinidad and Tobago”. I would also like to take the opportunity to inform that our Embassy in Brussels was successful in having June declared ‘the month of Steel pan’ in Brussels. It was also through this Mission that Trinidad and Tobago recently donated a seven (7) piece steel pan orchestra to the Musée de la Musique in Paris, and a low chrome tenor pan to the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago continues to support culture and we anticipate the growing international presence of our cherished National Instrument and the vibrancy that is Trinidad and Tobago with this important and historic endeavour.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you.