Eulogy for Teddy Belgrave By his son, Chenier To his brothers and sister, two of his children, and his countless numbers of partners, Ian Lindsay Belgrave was known as Teddy. To his QRC school mates and his Mangoe Rose admirers he was know as “Six base” Teddy. To his countless numbers of students he was know as Sir, Mr. Belgrave or just plane Belgrave. To the countless colleagues in the political and intellectual struggle he was Comrade Belgrave. And to his youngest daughter Koya he was Daddy But when he spoke of himself, his words were, “I was not put on this earth for kicks, I am a serious man”. Born on September 24th 1945 he was one of 9 brothers and sisters, and the only one born in the Port of Spain General Hospital. He was brought home to his family with the name Ian. His sisters, who dominated his household, took one look at him and immediately changed that name from Ian to Teddy. There was no way such a cute baby could be called Ian. It was to close to Iron. But from the time he could crawl Teddy was a freedom fighter. The house which opened out on to the Eastern Main, often found a crawling baby Teddy expanding his boundaries. It was lucky, back then that top speeds for local vehicles allowed for easy breaking or this may have been a very short eulogy. From a baby Teddy’s, curiosity was carrying him places. Aunty Molly retells a story of a frantic family search for a missing Teddy. Only to have him returned by a perfect stranger driving a Van. When questioned, the stranger’s response was that the boy wanted to go for a drive. Soon this stranger was adopted as “the Van man” allowing Teddy to push his boundaries even further.
His political career also started very young. He was born and grew up in a time when local intellectuals had now begun to realize their own independence and was seeking to muster support from the masses in the quest for freedom for colonial Trinidad. It was his father Joseph Belgrave who took Teddy along with him to all the different political meetings and debates that were taking place all over the country and at Woodford Square in particular. As a young boy he had heard Eric Williams debate and Uriah Buttler Speak. So it is no surprise that at age10 when called upon to the kill the Sunday lunch chicken his response to his older sister was . “Jemma I could kill the chicken for you /but killing would be against my principle of harming another living thing” . Along with his political and intellectual pursuits was his love for the pan. What began as him following his 2 older brother into the Pan Yard for the formation of Highlanders steel band, developed into a lifelong relationship with the six bass and Berty Marshal. This evolved over the years into the formation of Bird song, Woodtrin and the Arima Senior Comprehensive School Band. It was the foundation of the UTT program in the business of pan and the Pan Tuners course, and of course, to the creation of his pride and Joy – Mango Rose Ltd, an organization for the advancement of pan internationally. His love of Music and politics was only surpassed but his mathematically genius. Entering Queen Royal College on an exhibition scholarship, he showed his mastering of both the left and right side of his brain. He was a bass man at night and math wiz by day and a commander of the English language and of writing, at all times The stories can go on and on – from his being allowed to do A Level maths while still in O level classes (to the amazement of classmates) to that of the wirey 14 year old coming down George Street playing the newly invented six bass and never missing a note.
But all this was before my time. For me, Teddy was the father who knew where the ice creams trees grew – somewhere down Chaguramas. He taught me how to ride my first bike - A three speed chopper which I loved. He always had a story for everything under sun! And he was constantly taking the name of Jesus Christ anytime he was frustrated, as my younger sister, Jamila fondly remembers. And we all remember that smile when any of his children taught they had out smarted him. Most of all we remember his obsession with newspapers, his love for cricket which was only surpassed by his enjoyment of a good knock of cards. That was the Teddy I knew. “Discipline is absolutely necessary for human progress”, was the line that many a Trinity student had to painstakingly write as punishment for Mr. Belgrave. The watch words that he himself tried to live by. He had what can only be described as a “gift” , that ability to manipulate the English language as is evident in his many articles and his book “Dare to struggle, the history of communication workers trade union”. This gift was always a source of great pride to his family and comrades. He would want us all to remember that his efforts, struggle and achievements should be a legacy to be continued. The lesson to be learnt from this youth from laventille is that life holds no boundaries and that self discipline is the key to success.
The suddenness of Teddy’s passing has left the Belgrave family, his dear friend Carol and especially my self and my sisters Jamilla and Koya in terrible shock. Although the years ahead may soften the blow of this loss, I think his value to us and to the country will only grow as the years go by. Thank you!
Published on Jun 15, 2014