Cultural Icon

Kamaluddin Mohammed

 

Kamaluddin Mohammed

In September 1947, Radio Trinidad was launched and Kamal was asked to arrange for the blessing of the station by both Hindu and Muslin clerics. He arranged for Haji Ruknudeen Sahib to give the Islamic blessing in Arabic and Urdu and Kamal translated that into English, while the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port-of-Spain, the Most Reverend Dr. John Pius Dowling, delegated the Adjutant Finbar Ryan, who later became Archbishop himself, to offer prayers on behalf of the Christian community. Pundit Bhagowtie conveyed the blessings of the Hindu community.

Kamal’s performance in translation was impressive and within a week he was invited to host the programme ’Indian Talent on Parade’ on Radio Trinidad every Sunday from 1 to 2p.m. In the Trinidad of the 1940Ôs there were not so many radios and so large crowds would gather at the few homes with radios to listen to this programme. Kamal’s ability to speak oriental languages (Hindi and Urdu) with such ease and fluency was a definite asset. This was interspersed with English which made for a really interesting and enervating broadcast in which the announcer would wend his way through a linguistic mosaic that conveyed an atmosphere of East meeting West.

His broadcasts featured the local musicians and artistes of that era. Among them were the renowned Naya Zamana Orchestra of Ostad Nazear Mohammed, Narsaloo Ramaya and Isaac Mohammed; Jit Seesahai and his Melody Makers and the S.M. Aziz Orchestra famous singers included Jhagroo Kawal, Tarran Persad, Noor Jehan, Jang Bahadoor, Sayeed Mohammed, Zora Seesahai, Champa Devi, Tooloom Dindial, Isaac Yankaran and Sonny Chandee to name a few.

For a young man of only twenty, this was a major achievement by any standards. When one considers that opportunities for such prestigious positions in the media even today are limited, one can fully appreciate the impact that a young twenty-four old East Indian male would have had to make in 1947 to get the nod of radio producers to host such a programme. But then again that was Kamal.