At 82 years old and one of T&T’s most avid and prolific historians, Fr Michael Anthony de Verteuil CSSp, former principal (1978-1992) of his alma mater of St Mary’s College in Port-of-Spain, st
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King of calypso and authentic rude-boy
Cute dimples accentuate a rascal-like smile, and when he gets on stage the audience expects an amusing journey in vintage kaiso. He mimics the sounds of wild Africa, chuckles mischievously, lifts up one side of his jacket and puts down a wicked wine. Background music pumps, and then:
“Whoday Whoday…/Dis is a story ladies and gentlemen about two lovely white women/ travelling all de way to Africa/Found themselves deep in the heart of the Baluba in de Congo/in de hands of my big brother Umba/... He cook up one, he eat one raw/Dey taste so good he wanted more, more!...I envy de Congo man/I wish it was me ah want to shake he hand/He eat until he stomach upset and I/Never eat ah white meat yet.”
And he could still sing that calypso the way he did in 1965, but back then it had a different meaning to discerning listeners. The Congo Man is the epitome of double-entendre—a satirical dig at the superiority complex of the masters of colonialism and slavery. Generally, the words are taken literally, but it symbolises revenge and power. It is full of commess.