LOVE talk and floral wear ruled at the St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies’ annual all-inclusive fete on Sunday, billed as a Fete for Max in recognition of the contribution of former president George Maxwell Richards.
Richards, 86, died on January 8 of a heart attack.
Female patrons stuck flowers in their tresses, in keeping with the essence of the fete’s theme, ‘The Secret Garden’.
The fete attracted hundreds of patrons at $1,150 a ticket where a slew of performers paid tribute to Richards, a Carnival fete lover, cultural connoisseur and a former UWI principal. Patrons also felt although Max was not physically present, he was there ‘in spirit’.
MX Prime sang ‘Soca Train’ for Max, who created and nurtured the UWI fete while pictures of the former president engaged in various activities during his lifetime were shown in the background screen on the lone stage.
Kees, who is making waves with his hit ‘Hello Hello’ (after all, Adele sang ‘Hello’ and made it, right?), hailed Richards as ‘my President’.
‘We will always be friends to the Max,’ he said, and thanked the former president for living the example of an all-embracing citizen.
Kees noted that Richards partied with everyone, sending the message that citizens should not be looking for the differences in each other because ‘when we combine, we are so powerful….. invincible’.
Before the entertainment began, media personality Blaze, who was MC, led patrons in a moment of silence for beloved Max.
After the moment of silence, he led everyone in three cheers for the former president. Even the staple service providers said Max would be missed.
Max an innovator
Asked to share his sentiments, St Augustine campus principal Prof Brian Copeland said: ‘Max started a craze. That was what it was. He was an innovator. Of course, he did not
do it by himself. He did it with a team of people (including the late Ulric Cross). Max started it right here. He lived right here in the principal’s office. This was his home.’ Pointing to the first table left of the small white gate of his office, Copeland added: ‘Last year, Max was sitting right there. This year, he is not here. He is here in spirit. He really left a legacy at UWI. He will be missed.’ On the number of patrons, Copeland, who had a week before lamented the slow ticket sales. said: ‘We have about 2,000 guests. People support the brand, and, they know it is for a worthy cause. It is for students accessing tertiary education.’
Former UWI principal Clement Sankat, who visited and was on his way to Piarco International Airport for Belize where he’s the president of the University of Belize, added: ‘I just had to come on the invitation of Copeland. I miss my friend Max. He was truly a UWI man. When I was principal, he always liked the finest blends. Max liked his champagne. I would have his butler right there holding his champagne, when he was feteing to the max. Max was a good soul.’
On Sunday night, during a television interview Richards’s daughter Maxine said her father had indicated to her mother Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards that he would have liked to attend the UWI fete.
Sankat was one of the first signatories of UWI’s Max tribute board, which was littered with pictures of the former president and his wife Jean enjoying themselves to the max.
Main performers at the fete were Dil-ENadan, Olatunji and Rhapsody NG, Iwer George, Alison Hinds, Voice, Kees and Machel Montano.