Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 12th 2015 Contents A14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 12, 2015
Former National Calypso Monarch Duane O Con-
nor received keys for a new Housing Development
Corporation (HDC) home from Housing Minister
Dr Roodal Moonilal after fire razed his childhood
home in Cocorite on Tuesday.
While he was happy to receive the house, having
been an applicant since 2007, O Connor said it was
a bitter-sweet moment for
him as everything he owned
was destroyed and he and
his family now had to start
all over again.
In a brief ceremony at
HDC s San Fernando office
yesterday, O Connor who
won the calypso crown in
2012 and took home the $1
million prize, his wife
Donessa Wickham and son
Duane O Connor Jr met with
Moonilal, HDC s chairman
Rabindra Moonan and
HDC s managing director Jearlean John.
There he signed documents for a three-bedroom,
two-bathroom home at East Grove Community in
Moonilal said since the fire, he had been receiving
calls from citizens and members of the calypso fra-
ternity to assist O Connor.
He said while he did not interfere in the distribution
of houses, he asked HDC to help out as there was
a policy window in place to deal with emergency
"We do have a policy window to assist citizens
who have been victims of natural disasters of some
kind so that we have moved to assist Mr O Connor
with great haste. Not only is this his season and he
is rehearsing as I imagine now, but it s really a time
when he should be out there performing, bringing
joy and entertainment to the national community.
"This morning we are very happy to assist in an
emergency situation and I want to tell my friends in
the calypso fraternity that the house is on and we
want to bring a little cheer here to our great enter-
tainer," Moonilal said.
O'Connor forges ahead
In spite of the setback, O Connor said, he would
compete for the title at Sunday s Dimanche Gras.
He will be performing Citizens Pride, a song which
calls on citizens to put country first despite whatever
struggles they face.
"Yes, I am going ahead with Sunday because if I
get anywhere close to the top or the top, I can probably
continue with more developments in my life," O Con-
However, he said, the suits he had prepared to
wear Sunday were also destroyed in the house. Even
his memorabilia from past competitions were
destroyed. O Connor won the Stars of Tomorrow in
1994 and 1999, was a seven-time Stars of Tomorrow
awardee, two-time Stars of Gold awardee, eight-
time Young Kings finalist, five-time National Calypso
Monarch semi-finalist, five-time Unattached Calypso
Monarch finalist, and winner of the Emancipation
Calypso Monarch title in 2003, Young King Calypso
Monarch title 2013 and Tuco North Zone Calypso
He is also a police constable attached to the Com-
munity Police division and supervises more than 115
children at the Patna/River Estate Police Youth Club.
Fire a mystery
It remains unclear what caused the fire at O Con-
24 hours after house destroyed by fire
nor s home, but initial reports from fire prevention
officers have ruled out an electrical failure.
O Connor said the damage to his house was esti-
mated at over $350,000, noting that he had just pur-
chased a $15,000 refrigerator and $12,000 stove.
Recalling Tuesday s event, he said: "I was coming
from a funeral from south here because I live
Cocorite/St James. On my way, my wife called and
said the neighbours called, because she herself was
heading to an audition with my son. She told me
that the house is on fire. When I got to about Fatima
College on Mucurapo Road, I was seeing the flames
and the smoke in the air and by the time I got home
the entire place was ablaze and it was destroyed.
"The initial investigation from the fire service states
that it may not be anything electrical because they
said if it was electrical, they would have seen some
bubbles on the wires and there are no bubbles on
HDC rescues former monarch
Former National Calypso Monarch Duane O'Connor, second left, hugs his son
Duane Ta'zyah, after he received keys for a Housing Development Corporation
(HDC) house from Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, at the HDC's San
Fernando office yesterday. Looking on are O'Connor's wife, Donessa Wickham,
and the HDC's chairman Rabindra Mohan. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
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