Port of Spain, Trinidad: Wednesday, October 11, 2017: The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago (NCC) joins with the nation in remembering the life of John Gladstone Cupid – celebrated researcher, historian, organiser, and cultural visionary – who died on October 9, 2017 at the age of 88.
Cupid was an NCC stalwart and team member for decades until his retirement just four years ago. From the onset of joining the commission, he pledged his tireless energy, virtually encyclopaedic knowledge, and insight into developing and safeguarding many Carnival and cultural aspects that we have and savour to this very day.
What he didn’t contribute directly to its enhancement, he did so indirectly through his warm demeanour, optimism, and infectious passion that motivated and inspired those around him.
When it came to culture, nothing was out of Cupid’s scope as he advocated everything from Carnival traditions and history to celebrating diverse elements like Parang, Patois, local arts and crafts, folklore and traditional tales from colonial days. He was a pioneer of cultural celebrations including those held on Emancipation Day, Point Fortin Borough Day, and he was a crucial part of developing support systems for community organisations involved in the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition.
Whether he was at the Commission or not, Cupid spent much of his life in service to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, eventually becoming the architect in the shape and scope of not just our beloved Festival, but Carnivals all around the globe.
It was at the Commission, however, that Cupid would have his greatest impact as one of the primary architects of the revival of the Canboulay Riot Re-enactments, held each year on Carnival Friday at Piccadilly Greens, Port of Spain.
Remembering Cupid’s legacy and invaluable contributions, NCC Chairman, Kenneth De Silva said, “John charted an untrodden path in celebrating our rich and diverse cultural heritage. He worked hard and he worked without thanks. For him, the journey was equally as important as the destination.”
“He has been instrumental in keeping many Carnival elements alive; everything from the Canboulay Riots Re-enactment, which we can safely say is John’s godchild, to the parades of the Traditional Mas Characters like the Fancy Sailor, Dragon Mas, Bat Mas, Wild Indian Mas. You name it, once it was Carnival and Culture, John was pivotal in bringing it to life.”
““We have lost another icon of the field, and just like those who have gone before him, John will truly be missed,” De Silva added.
Ample Limited, Chairman and Managing Director, Alfred Aguiton fondly remembers his time with Cupid as he was NCC Chairman when he appointed Cupid to the Commission’s Board and later selected him to run the NCC Regional Carnival Committee.
“John was a professional colleague, a personal friend, and a proud compere. He made an inestimable contribution to Carnival and to culture. He was as energetic as he was well-versed; travelling the length and breadth of this country to speak to as many people as possible on any range of related topics,” Aguiton said.
“We first met in 1967 at the Montreal Expo and in the years that followed developed quite a friendship. When I was appointed to chair the NCC Board years later, I had no reservations in recommending that John be a commissioner given his resourcefulness, insight, and passion about all things Carnival and Culture.”
“In the end, he gave his life to Carnival and he gave life to Carnival; identifying and promulgating what he used to refer to in his newspaper column as the ‘rich leaf-mould of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago’. He did it all for love and not for money, and is truly one of this nation’s most energetic and genuine patriots and not a ‘paytriot’”.
The NCC joins with the nation in remembering John Cupid, who fought a hard battle to bring culture to the fore; forever grateful to have had John at our side, in many cases, leading the way in a larger movement that celebrates tradition, culture, legacy, and the ardent pursuit of never losing sight of who we are as a nation and a people.
As we remember the life of John Cupid, here are few photos from the grand sendoff that was his funeral service on October 14 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Truly an icon of the Carnival and Cultural Community, John will be dearly missed.