It is with deep sadness that the Agency for Rural Transformation Ltd. (ART) has learnt of the passing of 97-year old, calypso pioneer and icon, Ralph George, known in the calypso world as Cuk Gendai.
ART had the privilege of first meeting Cuk Gendai when he graciously accepted an invitation to perform at its Senior Citizens in Concert in 1998 and again, by popular request at the concert in 2001 where he performed his popular compositions, Terelene and Agriculture. He explained to us that his calypso sobriquet translated from creole meant Checkered Cock. It reflected his engaging personality and wit. Besides being a calypsonian, he was well-known cricketer — being an accomplished all-rounder who was a popular individual, particular with the ladies. He described himself as a “cock of the heart”.
Ralph George was born in Belmont, St. Andrew. As an agricultural worker, he worked on agricultural estates all over Grenada and finally settled in Florida, St. John, cultivating his own plot of land and offering agricultural labour services.
He sang all over Grenada and he shared some of these memories with us. He recalls with candid humour the calypso competitions in St. Andrew which were judged by the estate owners and if one sang in favour of a particular estate, one would be judged the winner. He recalled how he sang calypso for a drink of rum, helping the sales of the local rum shop as people came to drink and be entertained. When he was crowned as the calypso king in Gouyave, he was crowned with a cardboard crown and his prizes were a flashlight and a toothbrush!! But he proudly added, “The people respected me after that!!”
Singing in the calypso tent of the late Lord Melody, Firesticks, which was based in the Drill Yard, he would often, hitch a ride to St. George’s not knowing how he would be returning home. If he were lucky, he would get fifty cents for his performance.
Though the exploits and accomplishments of Cuk Gendai may not be well known, he is one of the early icons of calypso in Grenada. He was one of those who genuinely loved calypso and contributed to its development.
The Agency for Rural Transformtion Ltd. (ART) salutes the contribution of Ralph George a.k.a. “Cuk Gendai” to national development and remembers him with fond affection and deep appreciation.
We extend our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
May he rest in peace!
Submitted by the Agency for Rural Transformation
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