Ian K Ramdhanie, MSc,
Hundreds of students from primary and secondary schools across Tobago were among the first to file past the body of former president, prime minister and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chairman Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, after viewing was opened to the public at 6 am at the THA Legislature yesterday. The venue was buzzing with a constant flow of people, all of whom wanted their opportunity to pay their last respects to the son of the soil and to be a part of history.
Security was tight and individuals were allowed in the chamber in batches to avoid congestion in the area where the coffin sat. A mood of sombreness and reflection pervaded the chamber as people walked past the flag-draped, closed casket which bore Robinson’s body. Members of the Robinson family were also on hand to greet the public and accept condolences. The day saw past and present THA assemblymen and government ministers paying their last respects.
Christo Gift SC, George Stanley Baird, Pamela Nicholson, Beverly Ramsey-Moore, Merriam Caesar-Moore, Rennie Dumas, and ministers Vernella Alleyne-Toppin and Delmon Baker were seen paying their respects. THA Chief Secretary Orville London and the Executive Council viewed the body at 8 am. Many Tobagonians told the T&T Guardian that the body should have been in Tobago for no less than two days.
Two simultaneous Tobago-style wake and bongos were held last night in Robinson’s honour at the Roxborough Court Yard in Tobago East, the area he represented in Parliament from 1986 to 1991, and in Castara, where he attended the Castara Methodist School. Robinson was fondly known as “the Castara Kid” and “Ah We Boy”.
His public funeral is scheduled to start at 9.30 am today at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, with a private service with family and close friends to follow at the Scarborough Methodist Church. At 3.30 pm a final procession and interment will begin at the Coast Guard Base at Orange Hill Road, before making its way through Scarborough and ending at the Methodist Cemetery in Bacolet. A 21-gun salute will bring to end the five-day long national ceremony.