“Consistency is Excellence” (A tribute to King Dis & Dat)
As the 1975 Summer Term wound down, three youngsters – Renwick Jeffers, Crefton Warner and Keith Scarborough – sat in a classroom at the Charlestown Secondary School and pondered their future. Spurred on by the NEDACS-inspired (Nevis Dramatic & Cultural Society) inaugural Culturama the August Monday week-end prior (1974), the trio decided to make their first, diffident foray into the field of calypso, and the triumvirate of the Mighty Beno, Meeko and Dis & Dat was born.
And as they say in sport and music, the rest is history.
Beno, now deceased, never ascended to royalty, but Meeko and Dis & Dat have accounted for more than 50 per cent (20 of 38 *, 10 apiece ) of the crowns won in the 40 years which have elapsed. However, Dis & Dat has been by far the most consistent thread in calypso in the festival’s history. Through sun or rain – the King, His Majesty Supreme – has soldiered on, never missing a competition and has been as constant as the morning sun. He has reached every final, placed 30 times, crowned King ten (10) times, 1st runner up on thirteen (13) occasions and 2nd runner up seven (7) times, and also copped four (4) Road March titles along the way: “Pan Melody” (1979), “De King Coming” (1986), “Caution” (1994) and “King a de Road” in 1995.
In an island where consistency is not a hallmark those are amazing feats, and put King Dis & Dat in rare air. His friend and nemesis Meeko has also won ten (10) Culturama crowns, the inimitable Elston Nero (Elli Matt) 10 Carnival crowns, and the Sleeping Tiger, Konris Maynard, six (6). Nobody else comes close.
Take your pick: Keith Scarborough has been, the Muhamad Ali, the Michael Jordan, the Serena Williams, the Usain Bolt, of Nevisian calypso.
And the nation should Crown Him.
He has straddled the calypso art form like a colossus these 40 years.
With 10 crowns in 38 years, he has won the monarchy on average every 3.8 years.
1984, 1986, 1988, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2014.
His copious body of work consists of more than 100 gems.
From his well-tailored suits, his silken stage manouevrings, his often controversial lyrics delivered always in clear and succinct voice, his penchant for facing societal issues head-on, his daring to enter the realm of politics through calypso, and his ability to take a punch on the chin, fall down, dust off and start all over again – you either love him or hate him. Through it all, the man has been phenomenal – the consummate professional – professionalism personified – a Nevisian legend.
With Culturama 41 to be officially opened on Thursday, July 23, I am confident that the Culturama Committee, corporate and civic society will move to appropriately honour this calypso icon for his sterling contribution/achievements over 40 long years.
But I also expect the Premier of Nevis and his deputy – Minister of Culture Mark Brantley – to show leadership in this regard. Since the magic number is 40, the Premier should ask his deputy to join him in donating a sum of EC$40,000 in the name of Scarborough to the NCDF (the Nevis Cultural and Development Foundation – the organization Scarborough leads) from their princely “double salaries” taken on the backs of the struggling people of St. Kitts and Nevis since February 2015. The donation would go to the furtherance of the preservation of Nevisian culture.
That would be a fitting tribute to a King, would demonstrate that their hearts are in the ‘right place’, and would have ripple effects through society. A palpable demonstration of A FAIR SHARE FOR ALL.
The King should also be duly recognized during the next sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly.
The Federal Government for its part, should award His Majesty the National Medal of Honour, the highest honour a national can receive.
Amory and Brantley should also commit thereafter to forego future double payments.
After all, when elected to the NIA in 2013 they said they would gladly forfeit 10% of their salaries in the name of Country above Self. However, they have since selfishly taken an additional 100 per cent from the sweat and blood of the poor people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Premier himself has said and written on many occasions: “I don’t believe in the duality of the system. It is unwieldy, in my opinion to have one representative sitting in the Nevis Island Administration and sitting in the Federal Parliament.” Nevisians are living that unwieldiness first-hand, and paying handsomely for it to boot.
But then again, words are words, and deeds are deeds. Time to put words into action, boys!!!
More critically, however, the Premier, and Minister of Labour in both Federal and local administrations, must be doubly and acutely aware that it is unethical to be paid 100 per cent salaries for the same hours worked supposedly on two separate jobs.
As for us, the patrons – the King’s calypso subjects, we should applaud his efforts loudly for being a man not only of words but of action – for 40 years – and give him the keys to the city for the 2015 Culturama season.
For his own commemoration of the landmark anniversary, I sense that by dint of hard work he is poised to create calypso magic and history on the big stage on Saturday, August 1 to secure a feat never before attained, even by his own lofty standards – becoming the first calypsonian to win back-to-back titles in 41 years of Culturama.
If it is God’s will, and he can execute his genius, then so be it.
“Consistency is Excellence.”
No one can deny the age-old maxim, and neither friend nor foe can begrudge him any honour. The man has been ‘a beacon’ in our nation.
King, Your Majesty Supreme – Good Luck in your Royal Defence.
I sense history in the making.
*There was no Culturama in 1983 – the year of our Independence)