Review by Kevin Baldeosingh
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Central Bank hosts Capildeo exhibition
The life of T&T’s first Opposition leader Dr Rudranath Capildeo has been dissolving into the fabric of the country’s history.
According to Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran, it is a name that might be familiar to “only the generation of yesteryear,” but in the wake of an exhibition and an annual lecture series launched by the Central Bank in his name, UWI lecturer Dr Jerome Teelucksingh writes in a commemorative booklet for both, “There is the common designation of Williams as ‘Father of the Nation.. Similarly, there is some merit if perhaps Capildeo is remembered as the ‘Father of Democracy.’”
The Learning Resource Centre in Couva is named after Capildeo and his Theory of Relativity, a theory of rotation and gravity, kept him, according to Teelcuksingh, “in the esteemed fraternity of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.”
“Dr Capildeo’s story is a forgotten one,” adds Rambarran, in his speech for the Inaugural Dr Rudranath Capildeo Legacy Lecture, “but there is much richness in his life that is worth sharing with a new generation, as a source of inspiration.”
The exhibition, From Lion House to Legend, housed in the Central Bank, chronicles the life of the scientist/mathematician and politician, who can be seen in one of the images exhibited, side by side with Dr Eric Williams on Independence Day in 1962.
Like Williams, Capildeo was an island scholar. His Cambridge results at Queen’s Royal College took him beyond the sugar cane estates that marked his early childhood to the University of London, where he initially enrolled in medical school.
Unable to complete medical studies because of ill health—he had suffered irreversible heart complications from rheumatic fever in early childhood—Capildeo was encouraged to pursue mathematics and the sciences instead. He gained first-class honours in 1943 for his BSc in special mathematics, a master’s degree in mathematical physics and a PhD in the same in 1948.
These degree awards are displayed in the Central Bank along with Capildeo’s family tree, which show his name among other members of his illustrious family, including his nephew, Nobel Prize winner for literature VS Naipaul; grand-nephew Neil Bisoondath and his uncle, politician and lawyer Simbhoonath Capildeo, who helped to found the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha.
Capildeo’s years of political service, 1959-1967, were marked by constant absence, as he divided his time between the UK, where he met his need for ongoing medical care and worked at the University of London, and Trinidad where he was the leader of the Democratic Labour Party.
In 1967, the Speaker of the House declared Capildeo’s seat vacant. By then his health had so deteriorated that he was unable to return to Trinidad to receive the Trinity Cross he was awarded in 1969. Capildeo died, at the age of 50, in May 1970 at St James Hospital, London.
“It remains debatable,” reads one plaque, under a picture of Capildeo in his late 20s, “as to whether Capildeo’s involvement in the historical evolution of our new nation was a mistake or a sacrifice. Certainly his brief encounter with local politics was generated by patriotism and a great sense of hope for the future.”
From Lion House to Legend, a portrait of a life, Dr Rudranath Capildeo as “politician, lawyer, teacher, doctor of philosophy, scientist, activist, husband and father” exhibits everything from the last book that Capildeo was reading as he lay dying to the postcards he sent to his family and correspondence he sent to DLP party members during his absences.
The Central Bank of T&T has extended the Dr Rudranath Capildeo Legacy Exhibition until June 30.
For more information about the exhibition and to book a visit, please call 625-2601 ext 2400, 2342, 2082.
The public can also visit its Money Museum to learn about the history of money and banking in T&T. Admission is free.