Veteran masman Narrie Approo has died

A report by Laura Dowrich-Phillips for Loop News.

Veteran masman Narrie Approo has died.

Approo passed away at a home for elderly people in Arima on Thursday at 11 pm.

He was 94.

Born in Harmony Hall, San Fernando on April 22, 1927, Approo moved to east Port-of-Spain with his family at the age of five and first played mas as a small devil in 1934.

At the age of 11 he was inducted into the Warriors of Huaracan by his godparents, Claudius Pierre and Eudora Thompson and up until his passing was the oldest surviving Black Indian masquerader from the band.

Eric Mohammed, his great-nephew, told Loop News that his uncle was moved to the home as he started to decline with age and needed extra care.

He said Approo’s life was based on culture and he loved playing mas.

“He started his mas career at the age of seven. He played imps, bat, robber, dragon, all the traditional characters. He was a wire bender, and he was very creative. He used to make birdcages and make his own glue with cassava. He was the best draught player in T&T at one time,” recalled Mohammed, who lived with Approo briefly.

He said his uncle was his own archivist and kept a lot of records of his life, some of which are now stored at The UWI.

Close friend Robert Lee who knew Approo for over 20 years described him as unfailingly inventive, generous, resourceful and good-natured.

Lee, together with researcher Kathryn Chan, has been putting together Approo’s archives and spent time interviewing him about his life.

He said: “He should be remembered as an authentic person, he crossed all barriers. His Godmother was an Orisha priestess, here is a man who is the son of indentured immigrants who were Untouchables, a family incredibly talented and created. Musician Anand Yankeran was his cousin. He was and lived an authentic Trinidadian life and to live that and be that is his legacy.”

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