By Carlena Knight
A former chairman of the Carnival Committee has made a call for a scholarship fund for young and upcoming individuals in the performing arts, to be launched in honour of the late Sir Rupert “King Swallow” Philo.
Bernard Percival made the call as he paid homage to his friend of more than 40 years, calypso great Sir Rupert, during his funeral at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket stadium yesterday.
“We have truly lost a giant in calypso. You would recall that he was a magnificent performer, a dapper dresser, and I am sure for those of us that went against him, you would admit he was a fierce competitor. This is the kind of person whose life we celebrate today, and I wish to encourage that in recognition of magnificent talent and the contribution to which he has made in ensuring that the name of Antigua and Barbuda is known worldwide, that we begin a scholarship programme in arts and culture in his honour,” Percival said.
“I had the distinct pleasure of working with King Swallow for a number of years when we organised the Calypso Pepperpot. His interest here was to ensure that his fellow calypsonians would get an opportunity at the calypso tent to prepare themselves for the big stage. He was not in any way motivated by the financial consideration; he just wanted all calypsonians to have somewhere to practice their craft and so our friendship grew from there,” he added.
Percival also reiterated calls for the street on which Sir Rupert grew up, in Willikies, to be renamed in his honour as well.
The former minister of government was not the only dignitary to call on the government to bestow deserving honours on behalf of the late great calypsonian and soca artiste.
The Parliamentary Representative for St Peter, Asot Michael, also called on the relevant authorities to erect a statue of Sir Rupert at the entrance to Willikies Village.
“We owe him so much, not only for the international publicity he gave to this nation, but also to the joy, the happiness, the entertainment, the economic and financial benefits that his life’s work bestowed on Antigua and Barbuda. So, today, as our nation and the calypso world stand in honour of the life and times of Sir Rupert “King Swallow” Philo, let us do now what we did not do then.
“Members of Cabinet, in honour of his memory let us all agree to a life-sized statue of Sir Rupert at the entrance of Willikies Village,” Michael said.
Michael, who also delivered the eulogy, was very emotional as he spoke on the life and times of Sir Rupert.
Fans, family members, friends, fellow villagers, calypsonians, soca artistes, cricketing greats like Sir Curtly Ambrose and politicians were among the hundreds who turned out at the historical Sir Vivian Richards Cricket stadium yesterday to say their final farewell to their ‘hero’, ‘mentor’, ‘father’ and ‘close friend’.
His body was interred in the Grant’s community cemetery in Willikies Village, where the 78-year-old icon was born and raised, and where he lived until his death on September 11, 2020.