Black Stalin Inspires Mia

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

IN an endearing tribute to Dr Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley says his work has inspired her personal journey.

The famed calypsonian passed away on Wednesday after ailing for some time.

Mottley described Stalin as one of the region’s finest masters of calypso as both his lyrics and his melodies expertly captured the rhythm and vibe and voice of the Caribbean.

She posted her tribute titled “From the heart” on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

Saying that anyone who knows her was aware of her love for music and one of the early artists who centred her and gave her context and perspective was Stalin with songs cemented in nation-building.

“He had a way of drilling down always to the core – his message always rooted in truth, justice and solidarity,” she said.

Stalin was also acutely conscious of shared history, culture, passions and concerns and expressed them in his songs in a way others never could, the Prime Minister added.

Mottley said, “In the true tradition of calypso, Stalin was also a griot, chronicling the issues and philosophies impacting our daily lives.”

With songs embedded in history, Mottley said Stalin’s songs were not limited to the Caribbean region and he emboldened those fighting the consequences of colonialism and the horror of apartheid.

Referring to his song “Burn Dem”, she said, “This was a powerful reminder of the exploitation and the oppression of black people by whoever and wherever! Yes his intention was achieved – to empower us with the resolve to keep fighting the battle for justice.”

Mottley said, “But perhaps his most far-reaching song was yet another anthem – that of the “Black Man”. After centuries of dehumanization of the Black Man and the Black Woman, Black Stalin validated the importance and dignity of the Black Man (after all his hard work and struggles) to be able just to fete with his woman.”

His song,  “We could make it if we try” was also one of the key songs that she choose to find hope in during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mottley ended her tribute with these words: “We in the Caribbean have lost one of our greatest nation builders. Each word of his, each sentence of his, carefully crafted by a maestro to  tell our story of the Caribbean and our people. Our story! May we work hard to keep his music alive across this Caribbean with each succeeding generation. May his work inspire others as it has me on my life’s journey!”


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