SEVERAL cultural groups in Tobago gathered on the Plymouth Recreation Ground on Monday to honour the life and contribution of veteran calypsonian Lord Nelson (Robert Alphonso Nelson).
The cultural presentation, which featured a procession of traditional Carnival characters, tambrin music and African drumming and dancing, preceded a gala concert honouring the calypso legend. The event was a part of a concert series, hosted by Tobago Music Arts and Culture (TOMAC), celebrating the island’s Nigerian ancestry.
Nelson, 91, was born in Plymouth on July 27, 1931, a stone’s throw away from the recreation ground.
He returned to Tobago on Sunday afternoon, almost one month after being bestowed with the title Bobagunwa of Iwo-Ate, Nigeria, Africa, on September 27.
Lord Nelson was brought out of the terminal constructing in a wheelchair to applause from members of the TOMAC executive team airport staff, passers-by and other well-wishers.
Historian and Newsday columnist Dr Rita Pemberton was also readily available to welcome the calypso icon.
Looking regal in a red and white, African-inspired outfit with headpiece, Nelson, on hearing the sweet tambrin music and drumming, got up and danced to the delight of spectators, who seemed visibly surprised by his zest and energy. Lots of them took out their cellphones to capture him dancing.
Among the many tunes played was his classic, All Ah We Is One Family. Some people wore jerseys with “Let’s Have A Good Time” printed on it, in tribute to a different of Nelson’s classic, Mih Lover.
Lord Nelson told reporters word couldn’t express how he felt to be in his native island.
“I feel wonderful, great, completely satisfied beyond happiness. There isn’t a way I could explain today. But I’m home,” he said.
Nelson said he returned from the mother country, where he was bestowed with the title Chief Bobagunwa.
“Chief Bobagunwa opens the way in which for all to return.”
After leaving the airport, Lord Nelson attended a Fisherman’s Day event in Black Rock. There it was revealed that, as a present from Nelson to the people of Tobago, Monday’s TOMAC festival opening ceremony and tribute concert would have been freed from charge to all general admission patrons.
The TOMAC subsequently announced that they might have been in touch with all general admission patrons to rearrange and upgrade or refund.