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Richards: State of President House national disgrace (with CNC3 video)
Former president George Maxwell Richards has broken his silence on the dilapidated condition of the official residence for T&T’s Head of State, stopping short of declaring the condition of the structure a national disgrace.
Speaking at Sunday’s President’s command performance, inspired by the Artists’ Coalition of T&T, which featured top T&T performers at the Central Bank Auditorium, Richards said if the populace failed to demand that its heritage be preserved the country would lose its identity. He added: “We remember who we are when we look at, for example, the few remaining gingerbread houses in Woodbrook and other parts. There is one around the Queen’s Park Savannah, as you turn the bend at the top of Cipriani Boulevard, where there used to be quite a number.
“Then, as you travel further, past some of the Magnificent Seven, you come upon a symbol of the past which has not totally collapsed but which has crumbled beyond dignity. It is called President’s House. “What notes do we strike, when we take a look? What song of praise do we sing. What song of praise can we sing to such an icon?”
He said: “The notes are that of a dirge, so far as some can hear and if the truth be told, many can join and joined in it, with good reason. That building of which I speak is art and history to you, to many others, and should be to all of us and deserve our respect. “It cannot be allowed to collapse. Just as the defence of pan was sustained and successful and must not be diluted, so too must President House and all our iconic buildings be defended.”
Delivering his address a mere two hours before official demitting office Richards told the audience there were causes that as Head of State he could not champion publicly because megaphone conversations were not acceptable forms of practice in public office. He said the present state of President House was a cause that was significant in every aspect of national life and called on citizens not to let go of their vision for T&T.
He said: “I invite us to recall the history of the steelband, the story of pan. That needs no rehearsal, here. Suffice to say that pan has more than survived and has given us a name, all over the world. Perhaps with a stretch, you might see that what has come to us and the rest of the world, with powerful force, from the hills of Laventille, not forgetting the work done in our southland, can move us out of the sombre note to that of rejoicing.”
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